Special to the Patriot-Bridge
Senator Sal DiDomenico with his colleague Representative Marjorie Decker and the Lift Our Kids Coalition have accelerated the timetable for lifting kids out of Deep Poverty by filing Senate and House bills (SD 501, HD 507) at the start of the 2023-2024 legislative session. A campaign launch event was held last week to build support for this legislation and introduce it to members of the Legislature. The Act to Lift Kids Out of Deep Poverty, which Senator DiDomenico has led on for years, would raise the maximum cash assistance grant by 25% a year until it reaches half of the federal poverty level. Families living below half the poverty level are considered to be in Deep Poverty. Under the bill, grants would increase each year and would keep pace with inflation as the poverty level goes up.
After decades of frozen cash assistance levels, Senator DiDomenico and Representative Decker led the charge in the Legislature to raise grants three times for a total increase of 32% beginning in January 2021. This was a huge step forward for families in our communities and they are looking to continue building on this momentum.
“It is simply unacceptable that we have nearly 70,000 children in the Commonwealth living so far below the federal poverty level,” said Senator DiDomenico, the lead sponsor of the Senate bill and Assistant Majority Leader of the Massachusetts Senate. “While the recent increases in cash assistance were an important step towards helping our families, I am committed to continuing our work and pushing for further bold action to ensure that no child lives in Deep Poverty, suffering without nutritious food, winter clothing or basic needs such as diapers. We live in one of the wealthiest states in the nation and there is no excuse for children living in poverty. Now more than ever, we must make this bill one of the highest priorities for the legislative session.”
The Lift Our Kids Coalition (liftourkidsma.org), comprised of 155 organizations, formed in late 2016 to advocate for repeal of the welfare family cap, the law that barred benefits for children conceived while the family received assistance. DiDomenico and Decker led the repeal of the family cap in 2019, and the Legislature overrode the Governor’s veto of repeal by an almost unanimous vote.