First budget signed by the new administration makes historic investments in schools, higher education affordability, climate resiliency and local aid
BOSTON – Gov. Maura Healey today signed a $55.98 billion state budget for Fiscal Year 2024 (FY24), making historic investments in schools, child care, workforce development, public transit, housing, climate resiliency and other key areas that will help make Massachusetts more affordable, competitive and equitable. The budget includes hallmark proposals from Governor Healey, including making community college free for students aged 25 and older through MassReconnect, expanding Commonwealth Cares for Children (C3) grants for early education and care providers, increasing funding for Early College, Innovation Career Pathways, apprenticeships and other workforce development programs, and dedicating 1 percent of the budget to energy and the environment for the first time.
The FY24 budget also solidifies the state’s partnership with its cities and towns, making historic investments in Chapter 70 school aid, unrestricted government aid, and student transportation. This spending plan fully funds another year of the Student Opportunity Act and dedicates resources to help cities and towns redevelop and revitalize their downtowns.
The budget, for the first time, makes strategic use of $1 billion in new revenue generated from the voter-approved Fair Share income surtax and establishes a blueprint for how this revenue will be tracked and spent in future years on priorities in education and transportation, as directed by the voters.
“Our administration is proud to deliver our first budget that meets the moment by making Massachusetts more affordable, competitive and equitable. This budget makes significant investments in schools, child care, clean energy, the environment, and access to mental and physical health care,” said Governor Healey. “We are grateful to Speaker Mariano, Senate President Spilka, Chair Michlewitz, Chair Rodrigues and the entire Legislature for their hard work on this budget that reflects our shared values. We look forward to finishing the job by delivering a tax relief package that will put money back into the pockets of families, renters, seniors and more.”
“This budget delivers many of the hallmark provisions proposed by our administration – including the MassReconnect program to make community college free for students aged 25 and older, grants for child care providers, support for critical workforce development programs like early college, and dedicating 1 percent of the budget to energy and the environment for the first time,” said Lieutenant Governor Driscoll. “It’s also a demonstration of our shared commitment with the Legislature to supporting cities and towns and our acknowledgment of the important role they play in serving the people of Massachusetts by making historic investments in local aid and school funding.”
The FY24 budget is balanced and does not rely on any use of one-time funds from the state’s stabilization account, the balance of which will grow to an all-time high of more than $8.5 billion after an anticipated $525 million deposit. The bottom line responsibly reflects $200 million set aside to fund collective bargaining agreements for the new fiscal year.
The plan also sets aside $580 million for the first year of a tax relief plan the Healey-Driscoll Administration filed in March that is pending final resolution with the Legislature, where each branch has approved their own versions of the bill. This tax package would put money back in the pockets of residents who need help with costs like food, housing and child care. Notably, the budget includes a section initially filed in the tax package to reauthorize Brownfields Tax Credits, which will allow for contaminated sites to be remediated and redeveloped for critical uses like housing.
The FY24 budget includes key investments to help make Massachusetts more affordable. It invests in programs like the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP) by adding 750 new vouchers for low-income tenants and providing $37 million for HomeBASE to connect Emergency Assistance (EA)-eligible families with more permanent housing opportunities.
It funds and makes permanent universal lunch for public school K-12 students and dedicates $475 million to child care providers through the C3 program. The budget also uses $25 million to permanently support Food Security Infrastructure Grants and delivers more than $330 million in student financial aid, including $84 million to expand MASSGrant Plus scholarships for low-income, in-state, undergraduate students attending public higher education institutions.
“This FY24 budget shows that Massachusetts can address critical needs like housing, college affordability and hunger while also remaining fiscally responsible,” said Administration and Finance Secretary Matthew J. Gorzkowicz. “This spending plan is both affordable and necessary to meet the array of needs confronting our families, businesses and municipalities, and I am thankful to my partners in the Legislature for their collaboration to get this done.”
Outside Sections and Vetoes
Gov. Healey also signed 103 of the 112 outside sections included in the budget and has returned eight sections with amendment and vetoed one section. Of those outside sections signed into law, the administration is proud to support in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants, universal school lunch, tenant protections and an expansion of ConnectorCare for low- to middle-income individuals earning up to 500 percent of the federal poverty level.
Other outside sections returned with technical amendments, but supported by the administration, include:
- Extending the implementation date for no cost calls for inmates at state and county correction facilities by five months to make sure the policy can be thoughtfully implemented and is affordable in FY24.
- Giving employers and the Department of Family and Medical Leave more time to effectuate the section allowing workers to supplement their weekly PFML benefit amount with accrued vacation time, sick time, or other paid time off to collect their average weekly wage.
In signing the FY24 budget, Gov. Healey has vetoed an outside section authorizing the use of $205 million in one-time funding from the Transitional Escrow account to support ongoing programming. To balance the budget, the Governor has also vetoed approximately $205 million in net spending from the plan.
Gov. Healey and Lt. Gov. Driscoll believe strongly that the health of the state’s finances and its ability to continue to invest in its people depends on being fiscally responsible. That means keeping the budget structurally balanced by not tapping into one-time resources generated by prior year surplus to fund ongoing expenditures.
FY24 Budget Highlights
- $524 million for education
- $71 million for early education and care will increase childcare slots for income-eligible families and put the Commonwealth on a path to universal Pre-K
- $224 million for K-12 education will guarantee access to free lunchfor students across the Commonwealth, expand pathways for high school students to earn college degrees and fund clean energy infrastructure in schools
- $229 million for higher education that will help make community college and a four-year degree more accessible through the MassReconnectprogram and financial aid expansions
- $477 million for transportationwill:
- Preserve critical highway bridge infrastructure
- Improve accessibility at MBTA stations
- Initiate means-testedMBTA fares
- Create a path for innovative service pilots and increased rural connectivity for regional transit authorities
Education and Local Aid
- Fully funding of the Student Opportunity Act, including a $594 million, or 9.9 percent increase, in Chapter 70 funding
- $475 million for Commonwealth Cares for Children grants to early-education providers
- $10 million for a career pathways program for early educators
- Extends in-state tuition rates at the state’s public universities to immigrants without documentation
- $172 million in permanent funding to provide universal school lunch for public school K-12 students
- A 3.2 percent increase to Unrestricted General Government Aid
- Major increases of $21.3 million for school transportation reimbursement and $9.5 million for rural school aid
- Full funding of Special Education Circuit Breaker
- Increases payments in lieu of taxes (PILOT) for state-owned land by $6.5 million or 14 percent
Housing and Homelessness
- Supports the creation of the new Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities
- Creates 750 new Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP) vouchers for low-income tenants
- Creates 150 new Alternative Housing Voucher Program (AHVP) vouchers for individuals with disabilities, including, for the first time, 50 project-based vouchers
- Reauthorizes the Brownfields Tax Credit recommended in our tax relief package
- $324 million for the Emergency Assistance Family Shelter (EA) program, representing a 48 percent increase over Fiscal Year 2023
- $37 million for HomeBASEto connect EA-eligible families with more permanent housing opportunities
- Addressing and preventing homelessness by makingChapter 257 eviction protections permanent for renters with pending EA applications
- $8 million for targeted initiatives at the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative to support workforce, manufacturing, cybersecurity, and the innovation economy
- $5 million for Small Business Technical Assistance Grants to leveragethe expertise of nonprofits to offer technical assistance, education, and access to capital for small businesses
- $600,000 for the Massachusetts Downtown Initiative for municipalities looking to revitalize their downtowns
Health and Human Services
- $173 million for Chapter 257 rate increases for human service providers
- $192 millionfrom the Behavioral Health Trust Fund for one time programming aimed at recruiting and supporting a diverse behavioral workforce, including a $100 million enhancement to the Loan Repayment Program for mental and behavioral health professionals
- An increase of $44.6 million for behavioral health initiatives at the Department of Mental Health to expand inpatient and community capacity
- Adds $6.1 million for immigrant and refugee services, including $1.8 million for health assessments and $1.5 million for employment programs
- $2.75 millionfor Technology Forward to provide assistive technology and remote supports/monitoring
- Supports a pilot to expand subsidized ConnectorCarecoverage to individuals at or below 500 percent of the federal poverty limit
- Expands access to contraceptives by allowing pharmacists to prescribe and dispense hormonal contraceptives to individuals without previous prescriptions
- $16.2 million for Summer Jobs Program for At-Risk Youth (Youthworks) to subsidize wages and facilitate career development of at-risk youth
- $15.4 million for Career Technical Institutes
- $3.8 million for the Registered Apprenticeship Program to fund approximately 1,000 placements
Serving Our Veterans
- Funds the new Veterans’ Services at $185.6 million, a $11.4 million, or 7 percent, increase from FY23 GAA
- Prepares for the opening of new Soldiers’ Homes facilities:
- Chelsea’s long-term care transition from the Quigley Building to Community Living Center will begin March 2023
- Holyoke is set to replace its long-term care facility by 2027 and is in the design phase of the project with DCAMM
- Invests in payroll and overtime costs for nursing staff at the Homes
- $100 millionfor a new Municipal Partnership grant program for a road construction reserve
- $28 millionfor implementation of the Work and Family Mobility Act, including extended RMV service hours
- $200 million for MBTA capital investments including station accessibility and improvements and design for the Red-Blue connector.
- $20 million for the MBTA Workforce Safety Reserve, which can be used to support employee recruitment and retention
- $5 million for implementation of means-tested fares
- $15 million for fare-free pilot programs at Regional Transit Authorities
Energy and the Environment
- Funds the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs at $557.9 million, 1 percent of total available funding for FY24 GAA
- This represents a $119.5 million, or 27 percent, increase over FY23, including new environmental justice staff and funding to establish a Federal and Regional Strategic Planning Office to coordinate market reform, transmission, and hydropower
- $25 million to permanently support Food Security Infrastructure Grants
- $30 million for the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center to support wind technology, clean homes, and workforce training programs in the clean energy industry
- $4.8 million for a decarbonization clearinghouse for energy efficiency, electrification, and storage
- $5 million to address deferred maintenance at the Department of Conservation and Recreation parks and facilities
Criminal Justice and Public Safety
- Funding for re-entry pathways including green career training programs
- Supports new and enhanced training requirements through the POST Commission and Municipal Police Training Committee
- $2 million to establish a Safe Neighborhood Initiative, a collaborative effort with law enforcement and community leaders to develop comprehensive solutions to reduce crime and protect communities
Technology and Cybersecurity
- $9.2 million in additional cybersecurity investments
- $2.6 millionin software licenses for Web security, network endpoint protection, and threat detection
- Supports continued consolidation of IT services for executive branch departments