Governor Haley makes reducing housing costs, MBTA funding, and school aid priorities for the new year
Affordable housing, educational funding and economic development are among the priorities identified by Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey in her State of the Commonwealth address Wednesday night.
It was Haley’s first State of the Commonwealth address since taking office one year ago.
Haley highlighted the work her administration has done during its first year to cut costs for people and grow the economy, starting with passing the state’s first tax cuts in 20 years, making school meals free for all families, and launching MassReconnect to allow students ages 25 to 25 years old. Seniors to attend community college for free, among other topics.
“The state of our commonwealth, like the spirit of our people, is stronger than ever,” Governor Healey said.
Governor Maura Healey said the biggest challenge facing Massachusetts is housing, which threatens progress on all other fronts.
“You know the numbers. Rents and prices are at all-time highs,” Healey said. “We have to act, and we have to act now, to make it easier for everyone to find affordable places to live.”
Healey urged lawmakers to pass the Affordable Homes Act, a $4 billion proposal to make it easier for first-time homebuyers, renters, seniors and everyone else to find affordable places to live. She plans to testify in favor of the bill at a State House hearing on Thursday.
“We are dealing with a housing shortage that has been decades in the making. To cut costs, we have to expand, and we have to expand now,” Governor Healey said Wednesday night.
Healy says Executive order for “universal, high-quality access to pre-K” for gateway citieswhich was announced Tuesday, and ways to make child care more affordable and accessible.
The plan will ensure that every 4-year-old in 26 cities — which includes Worcester, Springfield, New Bedford, Taunton, and Chelsea — has the opportunity, at low or no cost, to enroll their child in a high-quality preschool program. By 2026.
Haley’s proposal would also help an additional 4,000 low- and moderate-income families afford child care by increasing eligibility for child care financial assistance — state programs that help families pay for child care and out-of-school programs.
Her budget proposal would also call for $10 million to ensure the state’s most vulnerable youth have access to mental health care.
“Let us be a country where every young person knows that they are not alone, that they can ask for help, and that they will get it,” she said.
The title came just over a week later Haley announced $375 million in budget cuts For the current fiscal year, as the administration seeks to close the expected deficit of $1 billion, with monthly revenues arriving at a slower pace than expected.
Republican state Sen. Peter Durant said Healey ignored many of the difficulties facing Massachusetts.
“As we enter 2024, we find ourselves asking some simple, but familiar questions: Are we better off today than we were 12 months ago, and are we moving in a direction that will make us better off? Unfortunately, for many, the answer is Of the families he does not.”
Over the past year, the state has become less affordable, finances are in trouble, and the state is grappling with a migrant crisis that costs taxpayers billions of dollars annually, Durant said.
“It doesn’t have to be this way. As we enter this new year, we are at a critical juncture, and with some course adjustments, bipartisanship and cooperation we can get back on track,” he added.
During his speech, Healey also said the influx of migrants putting pressure on emergency shelters could cost the state $1 billion this year.
This is a difficult issue, and there are no easy answers. It’s also not something we created. “But I want to be clear: While Massachusetts did not create this problem, we will continue to demand that Congress take border reform action to get funding for us,” Healey said.
Next week, the governor said she will submit her budget proposal to the House.
Haley said her budget will be balanced, responsible and forward-looking
This is a developing story. Check back for updates when more information is available.
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