1st Suffolk Year-End Report

I write to you with important Legislative Updates and information. Since being sworn in this January for the 193rd General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts my staff and I have attended hundreds of public legislative hearings and community meetings while responding to an equal amount of constituent inquiries and requests. These essential parts of our day-to-day inform the important work we do to bring better access to state government services and our legislative agenda.

In the same time period in the Senate, we have passed key pieces of legislation including the FY2024 State Budget. We have also passed several supplemental spending bills aimed at targeted interventions in community hospitals and health centers. While our budgets set our Commonwealth’s spending priorities, the policies we legislate are equally important. We have created legislation to address the ongoing public health and safety crisis at Mass & Cass, provided our first responders with the support and benefits they deserve, and increased labor standards to ensure our Commonwealth’s competitiveness.

It is with great pleasure and honor that I am able to continue this work, with a committed staff and with your support. So while this newsletter aims to inform you of the important work we’ve been doing on your behalf and the people of the First Suffolk District, I want to also say thank you for your partnership and unwavering support. Without it, I wouldn’t be able to get up every day and do the job I love with gratitude in service.

Sincerely,

Winter

Spring

Senate Passes Legislation creating Secretary of Housing and Livable Communities

Dedicated Secretariat designed to assist the administration in prioritizing housing for all residents.

The Massachusetts State Senate passed a reorganization plan to create a state Secretary of Housing and Livable Communities, a cabinet-level position which will assist the Commonwealth with meeting its long-term goals in addressing the housing crisis and expanding safe, accessible, and affordable housing for residents. In Massachusetts, housing-related issues are currently addressed by the administration through the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development. The reorganization plan passed in the Senate today would elevate housing issues to a separate executive agency tasked with supporting housing availability and assessing the Commonwealth’s progress in this area. In response to ongoing concerns over housing availability, last session, the Massachusetts Legislature allocated over $1 billion in direct appropriations to support affordable housing in Massachusetts. This followed a session that saw the long-awaited ‘housing choice’ legislation become law with important housing production incentives, including requiring multi-family zoning near transit.

In Massachusetts, housing-related issues are currently addressed by the administration through the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development. The reorganization plan passed in the Senate today would elevate housing issues to a separate executive agency tasked with supporting housing availability and assessing the Commonwealth’s progress in this area.

Summer

The Massachusetts State Senate passed a $513 million supplemental budget for Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23). The legislation funds relief for hospitals, pension liabilities, special education costs, and flexible assistance for farms throughout the Commonwealth impacted by recent severe weather events. The bill also extends simulcast and harness horse racing and extends reporting dates for several governmental agencies. In addition, the legislation ratifies several outstanding collective bargaining agreements.

Appropriates $513M of fiscal year 2023 direct appropriations, including:

  • $180M for relief to fiscally strained hospitals
  • $100M for a supplemental transfer to the Pension Liability Fund
  • $75M to support school districts with extraordinary special education costs
  • $60.3M for staffing needs at the Department of Transitional Assistance
  • $40M for a reserve to support costs related to Tatum vs. Commonwealth of Massachusetts
  • $26.2M for collective bargaining agreement costs
  • $20M for natural disaster relief for farms and affected areas
  • $10.7M for public health hospitals
  • $506k for interstate flood compact costs
  • $200k for EEC contingency contract costs

Policy impacts:

  • Clarifies an internal citation for large building energy reporting.
  • Extends simulcast wagering and live horse racing in the Commonwealth until July 31, 2024.
  • Extends the reserve to meet the costs of oversight functions in the Office of the State Auditor, the Office of the Attorney General, the Office of the Inspector General and the Office of the Comptroller related to the expenditure of federal 2019 pandemic-related funding to July 30, 2027.
  • Increases the maximum allowable amount for the Department of Early Education and Care contingency contracts from $320,000 to $520,000.
  • Extends for 12 months the reporting date for the intergovernmental coordinating council’s initial analysis of electric vehicle charging infrastructure deployment.
  • Extends the reporting date for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation analysis of the operation of electric charging stations to October 1, 2024.
  • Ratifies several collective bargaining agreements.
  • Authorizes the Department of Public Utilities to allow electric distribution companies to recover expenditures and payments associated with the construction delay of certain clean energy generation power purchase agreements.
  • Authorizes the Commissioner of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance to convey certain parcels of land to the city of Framingham.
  • Allows a city or town to amortize, over fiscal years 2025 to 2027, the amount of its 2024 major disaster related deficit.

Fall

MASSACHUSETTS LEGISLATURE PASSES COMPREHENSIVE TAX RELIEF PACKAGE

Bill includes $561.3 million in tax relief in Fiscal Year 2024, $1.02 billion in Fiscal Year 2027 and beyond

The Massachusetts State Senate passed a reorganization plan to create a state Secretary of Housing and Livable Communities, a cabinet-level position which will assist the Commonwealth with meeting its long-term goals in addressing the housing crisis and expanding safe, accessible, and affordable housing for residents. In Massachusetts, housing-related issues are currently addressed by the administration through the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development. The reorganization plan passed in the Senate today would elevate housing issues to a separate executive agency tasked with supporting housing availability and assessing the Commonwealth’s progress in this area. In response to ongoing concerns over housing availability, last session, the Massachusetts Legislature allocated over $1 billion in direct appropriations to support affordable housing in Massachusetts. This followed a session that saw the long-awaited ‘housing choice’ legislation become law with important housing production incentives, including requiring multi-family zoning near transit.

In Massachusetts, housing-related issues are currently addressed by the administration through the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development. The reorganization plan passed in the Senate today would elevate housing issues to a separate executive agency tasked with supporting housing availability and assessing the Commonwealth’s progress in this area.

The compromise bill includes the following tax changes:

SUPPLEMENTAL BUDGET TO CLOSE FISCAL YEAR 2023 PASSED BY SENATE, SIGNED INTO LAW

Earlier this week, the Massachusetts Senate took final action on a supplemental budget designed to close out Fiscal Year 2023. This funding includes $3.1 billion and contains several provisions to support the ongoing operations of programs and services that benefit the residents of the Commonwealth. It was signed by the Governor shortly after its passage.

“I am proud to have supported this legislation that will fund the badly needed raises, back bay and settlements for tens of thousands of employees across the Commonwealth. They have earned them and have been wanting too long.”, said Senator Nick Collins.

This closeout supplemental budget includes:

  • $798 million to shore up the healthcare system
  • $378 million to fund collective bargaining increases for the following state and county employees including police officers, correction officers, firefighters, professors, engineers and human service workers. Overall, 95 contracts were ratified.
  • $250 million to support the emergency shelter system
  • $100 million pension payment to remove any further increased liability resulting from the 2015 early retirement incentive program.
  • $75 million for school districts impacted by special education tuition rate increases
  • $15 million for disaster relief for municipalities impacted by storms and natural disasters that occurred in 2023;
  • $1.25 million toward the Department of Mental Health, Massachusetts State Police, MBTA Transit Police and Boston Police to combat the public health and safety crisis facing the City of Boston.

Morrissey Commission

Finally, last month, a commission charged with coordinating state and city resources to plan critical improvements to Morrissey Boulevard and related infrastructure convened for its first meeting after creating it via Legislation in the Transportation Infrastructure bill and updated in our FY24 budget legislation.

The meeting was convened by the Mass Department of Transportation (MassDOT) and was the first of four public meetings to be held between now and next summer. A report will then be submitted to the Executive Branch and Legislature. The commission’s report will include recommendations in time to secure funding in state capital budget.

The commission is chaired by the state‘s Transportation Secretary Monica Tibbits-Nutt. In addition to me, the commission also includes the following elected and appointed officials or their designees: Mayor Michelle Wu, Rep. David Biele and Rep. Daniel Hunt, and Councillor Frank Baker, and officials from the state’s Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), the UMass Building Authority, and the Boston Planning and Development Agency.