(The Center Square) – Massachusetts’ $52.7 billion budget is headed to Gov. Charlie Baker’s desk.
The Legislature unanimously passed the fiscal document late Monday. It makes investments that are designed to strengthen the state’s foundation while saving for the future, yet ensuring the state remains competitive.
“Massachusetts is resilient, and this budget helps us create the conditions to continue being resilient into the future,” Senate President Karen E. Spilka, D-Ashland, said in a release. “This budget incorporates the lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic by continuing to save money for a rainy day, invest in support for the most vulnerable among us, and chart a course to ensure that Massachusetts remains a competitive place to innovate for generations to come."
Spilka said she was pleased the fiscal year 2023 budget, which was passed two weeks after it was due, will provide investments for early childhood education and care, workforce development, affordable housing, and mental health.
Paul D. Craney, spokesman for Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance, said the budget is “the most important task for lawmakers” each year, and it was “simply impossible that lawmakers could give this $51.7 billion spending plan the due diligence it deserves.”
“Speaker Ron Mariano and Senate President Karen Spilka continue to set new records for their unprofessional and opaque practices,” Craney said. “Not only are they once again the last Legislature in the country to pass their budget, but its release on Sunday night gave lawmakers and the public mere hours to review the document before leadership forced a vote on it Monday.”
The budget, according to the release, features a $2.66 billion increase in revenue projections to a total of $39.575 billion, which is more than what was estimated in a December 2021 fiscal forecast. The budget, if enacted, would place $7.53 billion into the Stabilization Fund for the end of the fiscal year.
According to the release, the budget was designed to provide long-term investments in the state’s obligations, such as $175 million for the High-Quality Early Education and Care Affordability Trust Fund. The fund is designed to support recommendations of the Early Education and Care Economic Review Commission. Plus, a $150 million payment would be placed in the Student Opportunity Act Investment Fund, pushing its total to $500 million.
The budget also proposes $1.231 billion for the state’s cities and towns to provide for improvements coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, and includes $187 million for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, including an additional $226.2 million for safety efforts and workforce reserve funding as the organization is tasked with making safety a priority.
According to the release, the document calls for a $6 billion investment in Chapter 70 funds for education, increasing per student spending to $60 from $30. Universal school meals are also included at a cost of $110 million, in an effort to take the burden off working families.