Lawmakers in the Massachusetts Legislature voted Monday to approve a $56 billion budget for fiscal year 2024 after filing it Sunday evening.
The House voted 156-2 in favor of the agreement, while the Senate approved it unanimously.
House and Senate Democrats announced Friday they "reached an agreement in principle" on the budget, which is now four weeks overdue.
State Rep. Todd Smola, R-Hampden, said the budget features significant increases to local aid, a universal meals program to ensure students across the state are being fed, as well as investments in transportation and infrastructure. Tax breaks also a big part of this year's budget.
"So right off the top, we took $581 million and what we roughly thought would be the tax relief package, we set it aside, bake it into this budget so it's already there,” Smola said. “So when that conference committee completes its work, they don't have to go around hunting for the dollars to bring tax relief. So that's a really significant big one, I think we jumped in with both feet.
“I really do believe this is an investment in people in this year's budget. Not that we don’t focus on people every year, we do, but I think if you look at what Massachusetts has done in comparison to other states across the country, we've managed our money extremely well.”
Smola said there's investments in incentivizing people to become nurses and making the state more environmentally conscious.
State Rep. Jim O’Day, D-Worcester, is happy with the budget as well. He said he’s particularly pleased with what is being done in education.
“[I’m] happy to see we're going to have undocumented students who have been students at least for three years who are in our public schools, now eligible for tuition at our state universities and colleges, as well as eligible for scholarships,” O’Day said. “I think it's great."
The budget now goes to Gov. Maura Healey's desk. She said a fan of a lot of things in the budget, including the investments in education.
"We're still reviewing it right now, but I’m really pleased to see there's a budget,” Healey said. “Really important investments on a number of issues and we look forward to getting through it and eventually getting it signed. We're going to move through things as quickly as possible. These are important investments, and again, just really pleased that the legislature acted, delivered a budget, and we'll look to quickly get it done."
Healey will have 10 days to review and sign the budget, along with making vetoes and amendments.