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State Senate approves repeal of 'cap on kids'


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BRAINTREE -- The Massachusetts Senate's recently approved $41.5 billion state budget would see the "cap on kids" lifted on Jan. 1, 2019, six months earlier than the July 1, 2019 date the House budget approved.

The "cap on kids," also called the "family cap," is a 1990s state law that restricts families from receiving additional welfare benefits when a child is conceived while the family receives benefits.

The law denies an estimated 8,700 children in poverty across the Commonwealth $100 per month in benefits and clothing allowance of $300 per year.

In April, the House of Representatives passed an amendment in their state budget bill that would essentially repeal the law. The bill proposes that the amendment take effect July 1 of next year.

A coalition of about 120 organizations, including Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Boston and Catholic Social Services of Fall River, Inc., advocated for the amendment through the "Campaign to Lift the Cap on Kids." It served as a unifying cause, with organizations of different religious faiths and from different sides of the political spectrum coming together in support of the amendment, including both pro-life and pro-choice organizations.

In May, the Massachusetts Catholic Conference (MCC), the public policy arm of the Catholic Church in the Commonwealth, issued a letter to state Senate leaders calling for "making the repeal effective July 1, 2018," a full year earlier than the date proposed by the House.

In the senate's proposed bill, the law would be repealed Jan. 1.

A conference committee will work to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate proposals. A final proposal will likely be presented for Gov. Charlie Baker to approve or veto in the summer.

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