Last week, the Massachusetts House of Representatives passed a balanced budget for the 2023 fiscal year, which starts July 1, 2022. As the Vice Chair of the House Committee on Ways and Means, I had the privilege of working closely with Chair Aaron Michlewitz and the House Ways and Means Committee and staff in developing this budget to ensure that the budget is a statement of the Commonwealth’s priorities.
Chief among the Commonwealth’s priorities are to address the ongoing challenges of COVID-19, to provide for the physical and mental health of our residents, to rebuild our economy and workforce post-pandemic, and to invest in all levels of education: early education, K-12, and higher education.
The FY23 House budget provides over $5.5 million in unrestricted government aid to Cape Ann’s communities and over $14.3 million in aid for Cape Ann’s public schools. Additionally, it includes over $500,000 in spending directed at organizations that serve the people of Cape Ann:
- $195,000 for Gloucester Marine Genomics Institute for the development of a rapid test for the detection of harmful algal blooms such as red tide
- $100,000 for Gloucester Celebration Corporation for the planning and celebration of the 400th anniversary of the settlement of Gloucester
- $80,000 for Wellspring House to provide career support for Cape Ann’s students and adults
- $50,000 for the town of Rockport for coastal resilience planning and mitigation
- $50,000 for the town of Essex for the design, purchase, and installation of lighting in the town’s business district
- $30,000 for Gloucester World War II Memorial Fund to support our local veterans’ organizations
- $25,000 for the replacement of the turf field at Manchester-Essex Regional High School
- $20,000 for the Gloucester Police Department Community Impact Unit to help them continue their preventative community policing mission
Additionally, I wanted to highlight a few items that are particularly notable. For our youngest residents, the FY23 House budget appropriates an unprecendented $912 million to fund early education and care. The House Early Education & Care Recovery Advisory Group, which I co-chaired along with Rep. Alice Peisch, reiterated the importance of early childhood care, not only for our children, but as a means for parents to be able to advance in their own careers. I am pleased that the House budget is continuing to make critical investments in this area. It also provides $110 million for a year-long extension of universal school meals, providing immediate relief to families by saving them up to $1,200 every year in reduced grocery expenditures.
The FY23 House budget also includes language creating a common application for services such as MassHealth, SNAP, and other programs that help those who are most in need. Under current law, each of these programs require a separate application, leading many who qualify to miss out on these critical resources. This change will help to connect our residents with the services they qualify for. The push for a common application has been a focus of our local social service organizations, such as The Open Door and Action, and I want to thank them for their valuable advocacy on behalf of the members of our communities.
These are only a few of the investments the FY23 House budget is making into our residents and communities. If you would like more details about what is included in this budget, please visit https://repamf.link/FY23-HBudget.
The budget now goes to the Senate for consideration. As always, I am looking forward to working with Senator Tarr as the budget moves forward in order to make sure Cape Ann is well-represented in the process and that our communities get their fair share.