News from the State House, May 10, 2024

Dear Cambridge and Somerville Constituents —

I recently joined with my Cambridge and Somerville colleagues in the House of Representatives to pass our version of the FY25 state budget.

As you've probably heard, this year's budget is our most constrained in years — as revenue numbers have been mostly down since the legislature passed a $1.1 billion annual tax cut last year (a tax cut I voted against, because some portions of it were too generous to the very wealthy and to big corporations). 

Nevertheless, I am very pleased to report that we managed to make the best of a challenging situation. Despite the choppy revenue picture and the ongoing strain of the homelessness emergency and the Steward hospital bankruptcy, we were still able to take some major steps forward with our FY25 budget, while also keeping the budget balanced and adding to our "rainy day" fund.

In particular, House Leaders agreed to appropriate a total of $555 million for the MBTA. This represents the largest-ever investment in the MBTA by the House of Representatives in an annual budget. Our budget also includes $184 million for regional transit authorities across the state. In all, this represents a whopping 41% increase in transportation spending over FY24. This spending is funded by both money from the state’s general fund and new revenue from the Fair Share Amendment.

Another highlight from this year's budget is the increases we've made to fund various housing programs. The Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP) is funded at $219 million, and the Rental Assistance for Families in Transition(RAFT) program is funded at $197.4 million, an increase of $7.4 million from FY24. Perhaps most notably, we are finally moving forward with access to counsel for people facing eviction, thanks to a $2.5 million pilot program to provide legal representation to low-income families at risk of displacement.

Other budget highlights include:

  • Universal School Meals — $190 million to provide free school breakfast and lunches to students, which includes funds from the Fair Share Amendment. As someone who benefited from free school lunch as a kid, I can personally attest to the importance of this program.
  • No Cost Calls — a $35 million transfer to the No Cost Calls Trust Fund to provide free phone calls for people who are incarcerated and their families. I recently visited the Middlesex County Jail and House of Corrections and got to see firsthand how no cost calls is already working to keep families connected right now.
  • Environmental Justice Fund — this year's budget includes a new fund for remediation projects in disadvantaged communities, including restoration of natural resources, projects for community health or wellbeing, and mitigation of environmental pollution or harm. It's worth noting much of the 26th Middlesex District qualifies as an EJ community, from Cambridgeport to East Somerville.
  • Making Permanent Early Education and Childcare Programs — this year's House budget makes permanent several pandemic-era early education and care programs, including the "C3" program to provide operational grants to early ed and childcare providers, along with a scholarship program and loan forgiveness for EEC providers.
  • Responsibility and safety in gambling — I co-sponsored an adopted amendment to create a lottery advisory board with representation from the Counsel on Problem Gambling to help ensure the Commonwealth implements gaming in a more responsible way (as I have long been a critic of how gaming has impacted the most vulnerable in our state).
  • Closure of MCI Concord — in keeping with our work on criminal justice reform, I'm proud to report this year's budget makes provisions to close the MCI Concord prison and authorizes DCAMM to convey the real property at MCI Concord.
  • Support for The Dance Complex in Central Square and Groundwork Somerville. I am also very pleased to report two of my budget amendments were adopted, providing a total of $60,000 in earmarked funds to help two organizations doing extraordinary work in our community — the Dance Complex (which needs help renovating its historic building in the heart of the Central Square Cultural District) and Groundwork Somerville, Inc., which organizes youth sustainability programs behind the Roosevelt Towers in Boynton Yards and also in East Somerville.

The budget now moves to the state Senate this month for further consideration, and then in June, a conference committee will be appointed to reconcile the differences between the two branches, with the goal of getting the budget to the Governor's desk by June 30, the last day of the current fiscal year.

There's lots, lots more I could write about this year's House budget —so if you'd like to learn more, or if you have any questions on this or any other matter, then I invite you to join me for Office Hours next week...


This Tuesday, May 14, from 5 to 6:30 pm, I will be joining with Cambridge City Councillor Jivan Sobrinho-Wheeler for office hours — outdoors! — at Dana Square Park, 70 Magazine Street. Food and refreshments will be provided. And we've set a rain date of Thursday, May 16, same time and place, if necessary.

Please join us next week to talk about the state budget, the city budget, or any other city or state issue on your mind.

As always, thank you for being an engaged and informed constituent, and please do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or concerns.

Yours in service,

Rep. Mike Connolly