Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey has signed a $55.9 billion budget that includes significant education and tax measures. The budget grants eligible undocumented students in-state tuition rates at public universities and colleges and provides free meals for students at participating schools. The budget also allocates funds for local schools, offers free community college for residents aged 25 and older, and utilizes $1 billion in new revenue from a voter-approved surtax on incomes over $1 million.
Notably, any student who has attended school in Massachusetts for at least three years is now eligible for in-state tuition at state schools. This provision aims to promote “tuition equity” for all students. Additionally, universal school meals are extended to students at schools participating in the National School Lunch Program, with $172 million allocated to fund the program.
While Governor Healey returned eight policy sections with amendments, including a delay in implementing no-cost calls for inmates at correctional facilities, she vetoed a policy section that would have used $205 million in one-time funding for universal school meals and grants. The governor cited the need to ensure sustainable funding for programs.
The budget also maintains the Legislature’s plan to allocate $1 billion in new revenues from the “Millionaires Tax” or “Fair Share Amendment.” A substantial portion of this funding, $524 million, is earmarked for education initiatives, including offering free community college education for those aged 25 and older. The remaining revenue will address transportation needs.
With the budget signed, focus on Beacon Hill shifts to private negotiations on a tax relief plan among a panel of six lawmakers. The Governor emphasizes the importance of tax relief for affordability and competitiveness and anticipates ongoing policy discussions in the coming weeks.