Next week, the Massachusetts State Senate is debating and voting on its version of the Fiscal Year 2023 State Budget! It’s up to us to make sure the final budget includes funding for our Commonwealth’s immigrants and refugees! The state budget is a values statement – it signals what the Commonwealth is prioritizing for the next fiscal year. This year, MIRA has been working hard to support two budget amendments having to do with language access. Both would build state and local capacity to provide equal access to state services and the ballot for all residents.
Amendment #139, Language Access Implementation, filed by Senator Sal DiDomenico, would provide $8 million to improve the capacity of our public-facing state agencies to meet the critical language access needs of our Commonwealth’s increasingly diverse population. Massachusetts is one of the most linguistically diverse states in the country with nearly one in ten residents considered limited English proficient. We must ensure that limited English-speaking residents have equal access to public health information, education, unemployment assistance, healthcare, housing, and other crucial services! Email your state representative and ask them to co-sponsor budget Amendment #139.
Amendment #143, the New American Voters Fund, also filed by Senator Sal DiDomenico, would provide for greater linguistic access to the ballot. Nineteen municipalities in Massachusetts are required by federal law to provide full bilingual access to voters, but they lack sufficient funds. This amendment would provide $4 million for municipalities & community-based organizations to improve language access at the polls. Email your state representative and ask them to cosponsor budget Amendment #153, the New American Voters Fund.
Both of these budget amendments are critical investments in language access that will allow our Commonwealth to better serve all of its residents. Please take a moment to send two emails to your state representatives, asking them to support Amendment #139, improving language access at State Agencies, and Amendment #47, improving language access at the polls.