The traditional six week congressional recess was interrupted yesterday when House members gushed back to Capitol Hill voting on a measure the Senate passed just last week. The Senate, House and President have now approved a bill for a $26 billion plan that will provide additional aid to states, including an additional $655 million for Massachusetts. These additional funds are expected to help prevent states and local governments from laying off hundreds of thousands of teachers, firefighters, and police officers.

Governor Deval Patrick stated yesterday the $655 million allocated to Massachusetts will be divided as follows:

  • $200 million for education programs in the state
  • $75 million for state colleges & universities
  • Remaining funds will be used to “fully fund” Chapter 70 state aid to local schools

The votes cast for this piece of legislation closely followed political party lines – only three Democrats voted against it and two republicans for it. The final count of 247 – 161 confirmed the bill’s pathway to the President’s desk where it was signed only a couple hours after passing through the House vote.

On a national level the new bill will provide $16 billion to offer increased Medicaid payments to states. This increase in funding will allow additional funds to be re-routed into other areas of the budget. According to an article by the Boston Globe advocates of the legislation have estimated this measure to keep more than 150,000 police officers, fire fighters and other public employees on payrolls. It has also been estimated this bill would decrease the deficit by 1.4 billion over the next 10 years.

Although the bill has been passed into law, much opposition remains. Businesses and Republicans have objected to $0 billion that would be raised via raising taxes on certain US-based multinational companies. Additionally Democrats and advocates of the bill are irritated over the plan to phase out an increase in food stamp payments. We will need to wait and see how this measure affects America and what obstacles lie ahead.