Massachusetts 2024 budget includes major investments in education, housing, transportation
BOSTON, Mass. (WLNE) — Gov. Maura Healey signed Massachusetts’ state budget for Fiscal Year 2024 on Wednesday.
Healey’s office said the nearly $56 billion budget is balanced and does not rely on taking funds from the state’s stabilization account, and reflects $200 million set aside to fund collective bargaining agreements.
“This budget makes significant investments in schools, child care, clean energy, the environment, and access to mental and physical health care,” Healey said.
Healey outlined specific proposals she pushed to include in the budget, which include making community college free for students aged 25 and older, expanding Commonwealth Cares for Children grants for early education and care providers, and dedicating 1 percent of the budget to energy and the environment.
It also includes investments to make the state more affordable, including adding 750 vouchers to the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program and providing $37 million for HomeBASE to connect eligible families with more permanent housing.
Economic development is supported in the budget through $8 million for targeted initiatives at the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative to support workforce, manufacturing, cybersecurity, and the innovation economy, while workforce development sees $16.2 million for Summer Jobs Program for At-Risk Youth and $3.8 million for the Registered Apprenticeship Program.
Housing and homeless-focused items include the creation of the creation of the Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities and making Chapter 257 eviction protections permanent for renters with pending Emergency Assistance Family Shelter applications.
Healey declared a state of emergency Tuesday due to the state’s housing and migrant crisis.
$368 million of the budget funds transportation, with major focuses being a new Municipal Partnership grant program for a road construction, MBTA capital investments including station accessibility and improvements, and the Work and Family Mobility Act, which includes extended public transportation service hours.
Healthcare items in the budget include an increase of $44.6 million for behavioral health initiatives and $6.1 million for immigrant and refugee services, as well as supporting a pilot program to expand subsidized insurance coverage to individuals at or below 500 percent of the federal poverty limit.
Healey added that education was also a major focus of the finalized budget with an investment of $524 million.
This includes a program for permanent universal lunch for public school students and $475 million to child care providers, as well as $25 million to support Food Security Infrastructure Grants and more than $330 million in student financial aid.
The budget also further solidifies the partnership between the state and municipalities by making investments in Chapter 70 school aid, unrestricted government aid, and student transportation, fully funding the Student Opportunity Act for another year, as well as dedicating funds to redeveloping downtowns.
Healey also signed several outside sections into the budget to support in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants, universal school lunch, and tenant protections.
The governor said that in order to balance the budget, she had to veto approximately $410 million in spending from the plan.