(Boston) Senator Jason Lewis last month joined his colleagues in the Massachusetts State Senate in unanimously passing a $49.78 billion state budget for Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23), which starts on July 1, 2022. The budget makes significant investments in education, mental health care, housing, local aid for cities and towns, and many other areas to help address the needs of the Commonwealth’s residents and communities.
“I’m excited that this budget will help move the Commonwealth forward and continue a strong and equitable recovery from the pandemic,” said Senator Jason Lewis, Chair of the Joint Committee on Education and Assistant Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “I’m particularly pleased that we are continuing to fully fund the Student Opportunity Act as well as beginning to implement the recommendations of the Early Education and Care Economic Review Commission in order to expand access to high quality, affordable early education and childcare. Thank you to all the advocates and constituents who shared their priorities and feedback with me throughout the budget process.”
Senator Lewis was also successful in securing $500,000 to fund local projects and programs, including $60,000 for the Friends of the Fells campaign to support increased safety and responsible stewardship of the Middlesex Fells Reservation and $100,000 for Triangle’s School to Career Program that connects students with intellectual disabilities with the services they need to successfully attain employment.
Highlights of the Senate’s FY23 budget include:
- $1.2 billion for local aid for cities and towns, an increase of $63 million over FY22, which is significantly more than Governor Baker included in his budget proposal.
- $6 billion in Chapter 70 funding for K-12 public schools, an increase of $495 million over FY22, which continues to fully implement the landmark Student Opportunity Act, passed with the leadership of Senator Lewis in 2019.
- $1.1 billion investment in early education and childcare, including $300 million in new resources to begin implementation of recommendations made by the Early Education and Care Economic Review Commission, which was co-chaired by Senator Lewis. These investments will help to stabilize providers, support the early educator workforce, and provide access to high quality, affordable care for more young children and working families.
- $175 million for higher education scholarships to help make Massachusetts public colleges and universities more affordable for students.
- With skilled workers in high demand and job openings plentiful, the Senate’s budget invests more than $100 million to bolster job training programs, help connect unemployed and under-employed people with higher-paying jobs, and support career services that help students gain access and skills to apply for future jobs.
- More than $900 million in increased funding for housing stability and homelessness assistance to work towards keeping people in their homes and helping individuals and families find permanent housing solutions.
- New liability protections for receiving and providing reproductive healthcare in response to laws in other states allowing their residents to bring legal action against individuals for traveling out-of-state to receive abortion services and against clinics who provide this care.
- A further extension for COVID-19 state-of-emergency provisions related to remote public meetings, flexible town meetings, remote notaries, remote corporate meetings and remote mortgage video conferencing.
- Eligibility for state veterans benefits for veterans who were unfairly discharged from the military due to the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, following action at the federal level by President Biden.
The Senate’s full FY23 budget is available on the Massachusetts legislature’s website: https://malegislature.gov/Budget/SenateWaysMeansBudget. Now that the Senate and House of Representatives have passed their respective budget proposals, the two branches will form a conference committee to reconcile the differences and send a final FY23 budget to Governor Baker’s desk.