DiDomenico’s Lift the Cap on Kids Bill Included in Budget

May 17, 2018
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Last week, Senator Sal DiDomenico (D-Everett) and his colleagues on the Senate Committee on Ways & Means released their Fiscal Year 2019 budget, which includes funding and language from Senator DiDomenico’s bill to lift the Cap on Kids.

The Cap on Kids – also called the “family cap” — denies benefits to children conceived while, or soon after, a family began receiving benefits. As a result of the Cap on Kids, Massachusetts does not provide benefits for nearly 9,000 children living in poverty. Their parents struggle to provide even the most basic essentials for their children, causing everyone in the family to suffer.

“I am thrilled that the Senate’s Fiscal Year 2019 budget includes language and funding to lift the Cap on Kids,” said Senator Sal DiDomenico, Assistant Majority Leader of the Massachusetts Senate. “Lifting the Cap on Kids is simply the right thing to do to ensure that families are not denied basic benefits simply because of when their children were born. This is a critical policy change that will help thousands of children and families across the Commonwealth, and I would like to thank Chairwoman Spilka and Senate President Chandler for their partnership and making the repeal of this ineffective policy a priority in the Senate budget.”

The Senate budget proposal says “aid shall be provided for each such child without regard to whether the child was conceived or born after the parent began receiving aid.” Senate Ways and Means Chairwoman Karen Spilka’s Executive Summary of the Budget describes the current policy as “outdated,” “unjust,” and “failed.” Under the Senate budget, the family cap would be repealed effective January 2019.

“We are grateful to Senate President Chandler, Assistant Majority Leader DiDomenico, and Chairwoman Spilka for taking the next step to Lift the Cap on Kids in Massachusetts,” said Deborah Harris of the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, a lead member of the Campaign to Lift the Cap on Kids, a coalition of 118 organizations. “Parents shouldn’t have to let a child cry itself to sleep because they can’t afford a clean diaper. They shouldn’t have to send a child to school without a winter coat or boots. With this budget provision, the Senate recognizes the humanity and dignity of every child.”

“The Cap on Kids has been harmful to children and their families, forcing parents to make incredibly difficult decisions about what basic necessities they may not be able to provide for their children,” said Naomi Meyer of Greater Boston Legal Services, a lead member of the Campaign to Lift the Cap on Kids. “We applaud Senate leadership for including family cap repeal in the Senate budget proposal.

The House budget also repealed the family cap, but with a later effective date. Differences will be resolved by the conference committee on the budget.

Massachusetts is currently one of only 17 states – including Arkansas, Mississippi, and North Carolina – that still have a Cap on Kids. Many states have repealed their family cap policies, and Massachusetts is now set to join them.

The House budget also repealed the family cap, but with a later effective date. Differences will be resolved by the conference committee on the budget.