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Tax relief waits as negotiators file $56.2 billion Massachusetts budget accord



By Michael P. Norton

JULY 30, 2023…..Legislative negotiators filed a compromise $56.2 billion annual state budget Sunday night, packing major education, transportation and health care policy measures and spending into an overdue fiscal 2024 accord that is expected to win House and Senate approval on Monday.

A tax relief bill had been moving in concert with the budget, but House and Senate Democrats did not reach an agreement on that bill, which contains many ideas that legislators were touting in early 2022. Budget negotiators did set aside $581 million for tax relief this fiscal year, and allocated $1 billion in revenues from the state’s new surtax on annual income above $1 million. Of that, $523 million will go to education and $477 million for transportation.

According to House and Senate officials, the accord includes a Senate measure that will allow students without legal immigration status to qualify for in-state tuition rates, and state financial aid, at public colleges or universities here if they have attended a Massachusetts high school for at least three years or obtained their GED here.

Also in the higher education arena, the budget provides $50 million to support free community college across all campuses by fall of 2024, including $38 million for free community college programs for students aged 25 or older and for students pursuing degrees in nursing starting in the fall of 2023.

It also includes a House-backed initiative requiring schools to provide school meals to all students free of charge, a program that began in the pandemic with federal money and which has been retained by the state due to its popularity. The program will cost about $172 million.

In the early education and care sector, negotiators agreed to $475 million for the Commonwealth Cares for Children (C3) grants, a funding level that budget analysts said represents an historic commitment. The initiative draws funding from three sources: the state’s General Fund ($270 million), a transitional escrow fund ($102.5 million) and an early education trust fund ($102.5 million).

The House backed a measure to allow online Lottery sales to fund early education and child care grants; Senate negotiators did not agree to that idea.

Budget analysts said the conference committee bill lays out $6.59 billion in Chapter 70 K-12 public education funding, an increase of $604 million beyond fiscal 2023, and doubles the minimum Chapter 70 aid level from $30 to $60 per pupil.

Unrestricted general government aid to cities and towns landed at $1.27 billion in the compromise, an increase of $39.4 million.

In health care, ConnectorCare coverage eligibility will be expanded under a two-year pilot to individuals earning up to 500 percent of the federal poverty level, or $73,000 a year for an individual. Supporters say 47,000 to 70,000 residents will become newly eligible for more affordable coverage.

The budget also requires state officials to create a standard, pre-hospital care protocol related to the assessment, treatment and transport of stroke patients by emergency medical services providers to a hospital designated by the Department of Public Health to care for stroke patients.

State employees will also be able to take advantage of another measure that will let them access health insurance coverage on their start date or the first day of the first full month of their employment.

Reviving the “free calls” initiative that nearly passed last session, the budget requires the Department of Correction and county sheriffs to provide voice communication services for free to people who are incarcerated.

The budget also raises a spending cap and allocates state funding to allow schools that signed building project contracts before the COVID-19 pandemic and those that are working toward signing contracts to “catch up” with inflationary costs.

According to information provided to the News Service on Sunday night, surtax appropriations of $1 billion in education and transportation break down as follows:

• $69 million towards Universal School Meals;
• $100 million for Mass. School Building Authority capital supports;
• $84 million for expanded financial aid;
• $50 million for a Green School Works initiative;
• $50 million for higher education capital projects;
• $25 million for “high demand” scholarships;
• $40 million for early education initiatives;
• $20 million for the MassReconnect community college program.

• $205 million for the MBTA;
• $70 million for station repairs;
• $50 million for bridge maintenance;
• $30 million for track and power repairs;
• $20 million for MBTA safety and workforce needs;
• $100 million for local road and bridge funds;
• $90 million for regional transit authorities;
• $50 million for highway bridge repairs;
• $5 million for water transit.

Once the budget reaches Gov. Maura Healey’s desk, she gets 10 days to review it. Governors announce budget vetoes and amendments when they sign the bill.



  1. The first one

    July 31, 2023 at 12:31 am

    Watch. No relief. Taxes will go up.

    • AntifaCatPiss

      July 31, 2023 at 9:00 am

      You should worship your government masters. Stop whining about taxes and be thankful you’re allowed a pittance of your earnings because being enslaved is freedom. Massachusetts is a “Commonwealth” instituted and chartered for the Good and benefit of all who cross it’s borders, including the illegal aliens whom you support. Just say thank you and stop with the me, me, me mentality. Communism is our favorite ism, get in board or get out of our utopian dream…

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