BOSTON – Today, Governor Charlie Baker signed H.3448, which will double the line of duty death benefit for the families of first responders from $150,000 to $300,000. Governor Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito were joined by State Fire Marshall Peter J. Ostroskey, State Police Colonel Richard D. McKeon, and Speaker of the House Robert Deleo to sign the bill.
“The Commonwealth is grateful for the devoted service of our first responders and their families who work tirelessly to keep our communities safe,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Our administration is pleased to increase this benefit as a small token of our appreciation and gratitude for those who sadly make the ultimate sacrifice and hope it will provide some relief for their loved ones.”
“Further supporting the families and loved ones of our fallen heroes is the least we can do to express our gratefulness for the brave men and women protecting our Commonwealth,” said Lt. Governor Polito. “We thank the legislature for including this important and timely provision in the legislation.”
Increasing the line of duty death benefit was included in a mid-year supplemental budget bill that will provide additional funding for several state programs. This benefit is afforded by statute to any firefighter or police officer, whether their status is full-time or reserve, as well as public prosecutors, municipal or public emergency medical technicians and correction officers who are killed in the line of duty or who sustain injuries that were the direct cause of his or her death. The $300,000 benefit was made retroactive to March 15, 2017.
“I am very pleased that this increase to help the families of our first responders was included in the supplemental budget, along with necessary funding for other essential accounts,” said Administration and Finance Secretary Kristen Lepore.
“Individuals who pursue inherently dangerous careers represent a special kind of public servant, and the respect we have for them is especially strong,” said Secretary of Public Safety and Security Dan Bennett. “Increasing this benefit is one more way to honor the sacrifice that they and their family have made in order to keep the rest of us safe.”
“I often hear first responders talk about their trade as a brotherhood, in triumph and in sorrow, they come together and selflessly put others first,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo. “And while I’ll never fully know the bonds of that brotherhood, I believe that public officials must find ways to support those bonds, especially for the families of the heroes who are tragically killed in the line of duty.”
“We can never do enough to thank those that put themselves in harm’s way to protect our residents,” said Senate President Stan Rosenberg (D-Amherst). “Increasing the line of duty benefit will not make the pain of losing a loved one go away but it will hopefully help take care of those family members that are left behind. The Commonwealth stands with our first responders and their families.”
“No amount of money will bring back Watertown Firefighter Joseph Toscano,” said Rich MacKinnon, Jr., president of the Professional Firefighters of Massachusetts. “But by increasing the line of duty benefits for him, and anyone in the future that makes the ultimate sacrifice, we are sending a strong message to their families that they are not forgotten. Like all of our proposed legislation, the goal is to see that our families are taken care of in the event that something happens to us. I applaud the Governor and legislature for their swift action on this legislation.”
The supplemental budget also included funding for a new contract providing clinical patient care for patients Bridgewater State Hospital, home care services for seniors, the Department of Developmental Services’ Turning 22 program, and homeless emergency assistance family shelters.
To simplify the tax filing process for business taxpayers, the bill also includes a provision aligning 2018 state tax filing dates for certain business organizations with applicable federal deadlines.
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