In The People's Blog

On the final day of July, both the House and Senate took up and passed a $56.2 billion Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 budget. This is the last step in the annual budget process. The budget is now on the Governor’s desk for her review.

This comes after the House and the Senate separately passed their own versions of the budget earlier this spring. I wrote about the Senate’s budget when it passed, and the record levels of funding it included for statewide priorities, key policy advances, as well as critical local funding my team and I secured. 

Then a bipartisan, bicameral, six-person conference committee reconciled the differences between the two branches’ budgets. Legislators cannot file amendments to a conference committee’s report and so on July 31 there were no amendments to be debated and the vote to pass the budget was unanimous in the Senate.

I’m pleased that all of the local and regional funding I worked to secure in the Senate budget was retained in the conference committee’s budget.

Below is a summary of the major statewide investments in this budget, bolstered by the first year of revenue from the Fair Share amendment.

The Governor has ten days to review the budget and has the power to approve of some sections while disapproving of others. Then, once the Governor has signed the budget, the work continues as my team begins to engage with state agencies to get the dollars to their end recipients.

The $56.2 billion FY24 budget represents a $3.8 billion increase over the Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) Budget. This spending recommendation is based on a tax revenue estimate of $40.41 billion for FY24, representing 1.6 percent growth with an additional $1 billion from the new Fair Share surtax, as agreed upon during the consensus revenue process in January.


Fair Share Investments to Grow Our Economy

Consistent with the consensus revenue agreement reached with the Healey-Driscoll Administration in January, the FY24 budget includes $1 billion in revenues generated from the Fair Share ballot initiative voters approved in November 2022, which established a new surtax of four percent on annual income above $1 million and invests these new public dollars to improve the state’s education and transportation sectors. To safeguard this new source of revenue, the FY24 budget establishes an Education and Transportation Fund to account for Fair Share revenues in an open and transparent manner, ensuring the public is informed about how this new revenue is collected and used to improve public education and transportation systems in accordance with the ballot initiative.

Notable Fair Share education and transportation investment highlights:


Universal School Meals: $171.5 million to require public schools to provide universal school meals to all students free of charge, making Massachusetts the seventh state in the country to make the program permanent. According to the Feed Kids Campaign, 56,000 additional children ate school lunch daily in October 2022 compared to October 2019 as a result of this program. The budget also includes two studies to examine school meal waste avoidance and nutrition standards under the program.

School Construction: $100 million for Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) capital supports for cities, towns and school districts experiencing extraordinary school project costs impacted by post-COVID inflationary pressures.

  • In addition to the $100 million, the budget increases the statutory limit on the estimated amount of grants approved by the MSBA to $1.2 billion. This increase in the statutory spending cap, coupled with an infusion of state funding, will allow schools who signed MSBA project contracts before COVID—as well as those who are working towards signing a contract—to catch up to construction costs impacted by inflation.

Free Community College: $50 million to support free community college across all campuses by fall of 2024. As Senate chair of the Higher Education Committee, my team is leading the efforts to design how the free community college program will operate, with a goal of promoting equity and opportunity. The funds include:

  • $20 million for MassReconnect, as a first step toward free community college for those aged 25 and older starting this fall. 
  • $18 million for a free community college pilot program for nursing students.
  • $12 million for free community college implementation supports to collect necessary data, develop best practices, and build capacity for free community college in the fall of 2024.

Worker Education: $25 million to encourage degree completion in disciplines that will address the workforce development challenges facing the Commonwealth. This expansion will provide financial assistance to students pursuing graduate, undergraduate, or certificate programs for in-demand professions at public institutions of higher education. After graduation, students who accept this financial assistance are required to work in an in-demand industry in Massachusetts for five years.

Green Schools: $50 million to create Green School Works, a competitive grant program for projects related to installation and maintenance of clean energy infrastructure at public schools. Preference will be given to schools serving low-income and environmental justice populations.


Road and Bridge Construction: $100 million in supplemental aid for roads and bridges, with half spent with a focus on the total mileage of participating municipalities. I fought for this provision that helps rural regions like ours that have low populations but many miles of roads to maintain.

Regional Transit Authorities: $90 million for regional transit funding and grants to be used exclusively to support the work of Regional Transit Authorities (RTAs), more than doubling the total funding for RTAs to $184 million. This will allow the PVTA to improve service in our area.


Education: Early Education and Care, K-12 and Higher Education

The FY24 budget supports students across the full spectrum of the Commonwealth’s education system, from Massachusetts’ youngest learners to adults re-entering higher education. The budget report delivers historic levels of investment in education, including:

In-State Tuition: The budget provides access to in-state tuition for students without a documented immigration status. All students who have attended a Massachusetts high school for at least three years and graduated or obtained a GED in the state will qualify for in-state tuition rates at Massachusetts public colleges or universities, regardless of immigration status. I strongly support this policy, which came before the Higher Education Committee I co-chair at a hearing two weeks ago. By investing in our young people, we will increase the number of graduates who pursue a college degree and raise student incomes and tax contributions. The students likeliest to seize these new opportunities are high achievers – goal-oriented, ambitious young people determined to succeed. I’m proud that Massachusetts will finally join over 20 other states in expanding opportunities to all who want to learn.

School Assistance: $6.59 billion in Chapter 70 funding, an increase of $604 million over last year, as well as doubling minimum school aid from $30 to $60 per pupil. This will help many of our schools, which unfortunately receive minimum aid under the state’s education assistance formula.

Early Education: $1.5 billion investment in early education and care — the largest-ever annual appropriation for early education and care in Massachusetts history. The budget also includes $475 million for the Commonwealth Cares for Children (C3) grants, which supports salaries and fixed expenses at childcare centers, and $85 million in rate increases for subsidized childcare providers.  

Children’s Needs: $714 million for childcare for children involved with the Department of Children and Families, Department of Transitional Assistance, and for low-income families.

Special Education: $504.5 million for the special education circuit breaker program, which assists cities and towns with high special education costs, including many in our district.

Regional School Transportation: $97.1 million to reimburse school districts for regional school transportation costs, representing a 90 percent reimbursement rate. This will be an immense help to the regional schools in our district, which are increasingly burdened with higher and higher transportation costs.

Head Start: $17.5 million for Head Start grants.

Rural Schools: $15 million for rural school aid assistance. This was a key priority of mine and thankfully is a substantial increase over the $5.5 million allocated last year. 

Early Childhood Mental Health: $5 million for early childhood mental health grants.


Health, Mental Health and Family Care

Investments in the FY24 budget allow more than 2 million people to receive affordable, accessible, and comprehensive health care services. Health care investments include:

MassHealth: $19.81 billion for MassHealth, representing the largest investment made in the state budget. MassHealth provides health care for over 2.4 million Bay Staters, including seniors, people with disabilities and low-income families and adults.

Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities: $2.9 billion for services and focused supports for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Also, the budget includes $42.9 million for Early Intervention services, ensuring these supports remain accessible and available to infants and young toddlers with developmental delays and disabilities.

Mental and Behavioral Health: Increased funding for a number of valuable programs, including $597.7 million for Department of Mental Health adult support services, $213.3 million for substance use disorder treatment and intervention services, and $119.8 million for children’s mental health services. The budget also includes $20 million to support targeted behavioral health initiatives and $6 million for Social Emotional Learning Grants to help K-12 schools bolster social emotional learning supports for students, including $1 million to provide mental health screenings for K-12 students. Also included is $33.8 million for Family Resource Centers (FRCs) to grow and improve the mental health resources and programming available to families and $25 million for emergency department diversion initiatives for children, adolescents, and adults.

Early Intervention: $5 million for Children Advocacy Centers to improve the critical supports available to children that have been neglected or sexually abused. I have worked closely with the Child Advocacy Center of Franklin County and the North Quabbin and advocated for their needs. 

Reproductive Health: $2 million for grants for improvements in reproductive health access, infrastructure, and safety, $1 million for the development, expansion and operation of freestanding birth centers and support for community-based maternal health services, and $1 million for the University of Massachusetts’ acquisition of abortion medication, such as mifepristone, as national access to abortion medication is currently a pending issue in the courts.

Preventive Care: The FY24 budget codifies into law the federal Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) provisions that protect access to preventive services, such as certain cancer screenings and HIV preventive medications, such as PrEP, that have been jeopardized by a recent federal court ruling in Texas. By enshrining the ACA protections into state law, insurance carriers across the Commonwealth will be required to provide coverage for preventive services without imposing cost-sharing such as co-pays and deductibles.

Affordable Health Care: The budget includes a provision expanding eligibility for ConnectorCare, the state’s health insurance program providing sliding-scale assistance to moderate-income people. Under the two-year pilot, individuals and families earning up to 500 percent of the federal poverty level (approximately $73,000 a year for an individual) will become eligible for insurance with reduced premiums and minimal co-pays and deductibles. Around 47,000 to 70,000 Massachusetts residents will be newly eligible for the more affordable coverage. I urged the Senate conferees to accept this provision. Just this week, we had a constituent who faced unaffordable health insurance premiums after her MassHealth coverage ended, and this program will likely allow her to get good coverage.

Public Health: The budget continues funding local public health excellence grants to local communities at $15 million. I have been working to pass legislation to codify and expand this program to support local public health. Acknowledging that stroke is a leading cause of long-term disability and death in the United States and Massachusetts, the FY24 budget directs the Department of Public Health (DPH) to establish a comprehensive system of stroke response and care to ensure patients receive appropriate urgent care quickly. In addition, the budget includes provisions codifying Operation House Call, which directs DPH to establish standards on best practices for the treatment and care for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities for a certified training program for students pursuing a health care profession.

Health Care for State Employees: The FY24 budget also requires the state to offer a new state employee Group Insurance Commission health insurance coverage effective as of the employee’s start date if the employee starts work at the beginning of the month. 

With these important provisions, the FY24 budget helps to improve and expand continued access to programs and services for millions of our residents, while further protecting the rights of residents to make their own health care choices.



The FY24 budget makes a historic $1.05 billion investment in housing, dedicating resources to programs that support housing stability, residential assistance, and assistance to those experiencing homelessness.

The budget prioritizes relief for families and individuals who continue to face challenges brought on by the pandemic and financial insecurity, including $324 million for Emergency Assistance family shelters and $190 million for Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT), which provides rental assistance up to $7,000 per household.

Other housing investments include:

Homeless Assistance: The budget includes $110.8 million for assistance for individuals experiencing homelessness, $107 million for assistance to local housing authorities, and $180 million for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP), creating more than 750 new vouchers and allowing the program to move to a payment standard with a benefit of 110 per cent of the federal small-area fair market rental price, significantly broadening housing options for those served by the program. There is also $37 million for the HomeBASE diversion and rapid re-housing programs, bolstering assistance under this program to two years with a per household maximum benefit of $30,000, $26 million for the Alternative Housing Voucher Program (AHVP), including $9.1 million in funds carried forward from FY 2023. This funding increase will create 250 new vouchers and will pair with $2.5 million in grants to improve or create accessible housing units, which will stimulate the building of new deeply affordable and accessible homes.

In addition, the budget includes $8.9 million for sponsor-based supportive permanent housing and $8.89 million for the Home and Healthy for Good re-housing and supportive services program, including $250,000 for homeless LGBTQ youth

Eviction Protection: In addition to these substantial investments, the FY24 budget makes permanent a pandemic-era eviction protection for renters with pending applications for emergency rental assistance under RAFT or any other program administered by the Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities (EOHLC), a municipality, or a nonprofit entity. Under the program, a judge cannot order an eviction before an emergency rental assistance application has been approved or denied.


Expanding and Protecting Economic Opportunities

The budget includes a record investment in the annual child’s clothing allowance, providing $450 per child for eligible families to buy clothes for the upcoming school year. The budget also includes a 10 per cent increase to Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC) and Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled and Children (EAEDC) benefit levels compared to June 2023.

Economic opportunity investments include:

Low Income Assistance: $444.7 million for Transitional Assistance to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC) and $204.4 million for Emergency Aid to Elderly, Disabled and Children (EAEDC) to continue efforts to lift families out of ‘deep poverty’—defined as is income below half the federal poverty level—and to provide the necessary support as caseloads increase.

Food Insecurity: $21 million in Healthy Incentives Programs to maintain access to healthy food options for households in need. I’ve been a leading advocate for this program in the Senate which helps our farmers and families. There is also $36 million for the Massachusetts Emergency Food Assistance Program.

Workforce Initiatives: The budget includes a number of initiatives to strengthen and grow our workforce, including $60 million for adult basic education services to improve access to skills necessary to join the workforce, $20 million for the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund to connect unemployed and under-employed workers with higher paying jobs, $15 million for a Community Empowerment and Reinvestment Grant Program to provide economic support to communities disproportionately impacted by the criminal justice system, $15.4 million for Career Technical Institutes to increase our skilled worker population and provide residents access to career technical training opportunities, and $5.9 million for the Innovation Pathways program to continue to connect students to training and post-secondary opportunities in STEM fields.


Community Support and Local Aid

The FY24 budget — in addition to funding traditional accounts like Chapter 70 education aid — demonstrates the Legislature’s ongoing commitment to state-local partnerships, dedicating meaningful resources that meet the needs of communities across the Commonwealth. This includes $1.27 billion in funding for Unrestricted General Government Aid (UGGA), an increase of $39.4 million over FY 2023, to support additional resources for cities and towns.

In addition to traditional sources of local aid, the budget includes the following local and regional investments:

Untaxed Land: $51.5 million for payments in lieu of taxes (PILOT) for state-owned land, an increase of $6.5 million over FY 2023, ensuring a vital source of supplemental local aid for cities and towns working to protect and improve access to essential services and programs during pandemic recovery. This funding is crucial for many towns in our region which host non-taxable state-owned land like conservation areas or lands around the Quabbin.

Libraries: $47.3 million for libraries, including $16.9 million for regional library local aid, $17.6 million for municipal libraries and $6.2 million for technology and automated resource networks. I am a consistent voice for libraries in the Senate and I am pleased to see this funding.


No Cost Calls: The FY24 budget removes barriers to communication services for persons who are incarcerated and their loved ones. Under this provision, the Department of Correction (DOC) and sheriffs must provide phone calls at no cost to persons receiving and initiating phone calls, without a cap on the number of minutes or calls. As part of this initiative, DOC and sheriffs must maximize purchasing power and seek to consolidate voice communication services contracts.

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