Senate Passes Fiscal Year 2023 Budget

The Massachusetts State Senate on May 26th passed a $49.78 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23). Advanced with unanimous support, the budget makes significant, critical and targeted investments in the areas of education, health care, housing and community supports to meet the on-the-ground challenges brought on by the global pandemic and ongoing financial uncertainty. For his part, State Senator Julian Cyr (D-Truro) secured funding for a spate of local priorities and statewide investments including reproductive rights and LGBTQ+ protections.

“The Senate sought to secure smart, thoughtful, and effective investments in key areas that benefit residents and ensure our state’s resiliency,” said Senate Majority Whip Julian Cyr (D-Truro). “I am encouraged that we were able to make tangible investments for Cape Cod and the Islands. Further, this budget stands as a testament to the Commonwealth’s commitment to promoting equity in the face of hateful national assaults on our basic rights.”   

“The residents of Massachusetts are at the center of our work and their voice, advocacy and contributions are interwoven throughout our Fiscal 2023 budget,” stated Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). “I take great pride in advancing a budget that contains meaningful investments in early education and childcare, K-12 schools, public higher education, mental health and substance use disorder treatment as well as a record level of assistance for low-income residents. At a time when reproductive and gender equity rights are under attack across the country, I am also grateful that the Senate budget adopts new, critically needed measures to protect our providers and health care centers. I want to thank Chair Rodrigues, Vice Chair Friedman and Assistant Vice Chair Lewis, as well as their staffs, the members of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, all of my Senate colleagues who contributed ideas and energy as this budget came together and every advocate and member of the public who made sure we knew what was important to them.” 


Senator Cyr secured critical funding for Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket based organizations. Among the beneficiaries of his work were the Center for Coastal Studies, Sustainable CAPE, Cape Cod Commercial Fisherman's Alliance, Cape Cod Regional Technical High School, Nantucket Cottage Hospital and Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, the Artists Association of Nantucket, the Cape and Islands Veterans Outreach Center, the Blinded Veterans Association of Cape Cod, Calmer Choice, and the Barnstable County Fire Training Academy.  

In addition to his advocacy for local funding priorities, Cyr also shepherded amendments over the finish line on statewide issues which will also benefit Cape Cod and the Islands. Cyr filed Amendment 520 to allocate $150,000 to establish a pilot program that provides livestock slaughtering and processing options to geographically isolated communities and allows for the commercial sale of these products to be sold within the Commonwealth. Small farms face tremendous challenges – even more so when they are located on an island. Local processing services would save small farmers high transportation costs and help to meet the processing needs of the entire state. 


“Access to gender-affirming care is a civil right that is secured by the laws and the constitution of the Commonwealth; ensuring meaningful access to this fundamental health care is core to the public policy of Massachusetts,” said Senator Cyr (D- Truro). “Regrettably, reproductive care and LGBTQ+ rights and protections are under assault in states across the country, particularly for transgender youth. In our debate, the Massachusetts Senate affirmed our incontestable dedication to reproductive and gender affirming care and bodily autonomy.” 

As one of only two openly LGBTQ+ lawmakers in the Senate, Cyr worked to ensure that the FY23 budget addressed pressing issues impacting the LGBTQ+ community including health care and bodily autonomy. Cyr’s Amendment 369 allocates $50,000 to the Transgender Emergency Fund of Massachusetts to support housing insecure and homeless individuals. Amendment 573, sponsored by Cyr, also passed securing $250,000 to support qualified medical providers in improving and safeguarding transgender health care access. Senator Cyr also spoke during the debate in support of Senator Friedman’s Amendment 388 that supports reproductive and gender affirming care access, protects providers, and guarantees this care is a civil right in Massachusetts.  

The Senate passed two Cyr amendments that support individuals struggling with substance use disorders. Amendment 553 addresses the rise of stimulant use in the Commonwealth by implementing recommendations from the Methamphetamine Use Commission’s April 2021 report. The report noted disparities in populations that use stimulants, and gaps in both treatment and knowledge of stimulant use disorder in our behavioral health care system particularly within Black, Latinx, and LGBTQ+ communities. Amendment 553 provides funding for increased access to adequate care and treatment for individuals with a stimulant use disorder, with a particular focus on disproportionately impacted populations. The amendment paves the way for the creation of an anti-stigma, culturally-tailored education program, supports health care and harm reduction providers who serve LGBTQIA+ patients, and improves access to treatment in both inpatient and outpatient settings. Amendment 142 complements Senator Velis’s Amendment 802, which provides enabling language to expand medication-assisted treatment (MAT) options to those with opioid use disorders at correctional facilities. Amendment 142 provides funding to expand the MAT Pilot Program to include the six remaining Sheriffs’ Offices that hold incarcerated individuals including Barnstable County. 

During the debate, Cyr was able to successfully negotiate the passage of key amendments that champion employees and workers and strengthen business resiliency. Among these was Cyr’s Amendment 282, which provides $300,000 to the Massachusetts Center for Employee Ownership (MassCEO). In 2018, Cyr led the revitalization of the Massachusetts Office of Employee Involvement and Ownership (MassEIO), now called MassCEO, which had been forced to suspend its operations in 2008 due to a recession. Since that time, the Senate has successfully funded the MassCEO at $150,000 per year. MassCEO has been inundated with outreach from businesses to assist them with the transition to worker-owned models, which have proven to be more resilient during recessions than non-worker-owned businesses. This funding will enable MassCEO to significantly expand its capacity to offer these services to Massachusetts businesses. Cyr amendment 517 adds 1199SEIU as an additional entity to be consulted on the expenditure of the $75 million included in new supplemental rates for Massachusetts nursing homes in order to ensure nursing home workers have a say in their industry.  

Senator Cyr also championed amendment 64, which implements one of the recommendations of the PFAS Interagency Task Force Report released on April 20th, 2022, which presented a series of recommendations on how the Commonwealth can address environmental contamination from per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Cyr co-chaired the PFAS Interagency Task force with House Speaker Pro Tempore Kate Hogan (D-Stow). One of the report’s 30 recommendations, which focuses on Supporting Firefighters and local fire departments, addresses the disposal and destruction of aqueous film-forming foams (AFFF), which contains high concentrations of PFAS, and is one of the primary exposure pathways by which PFAS enters the environment. Amendment 64 allocates $250,000 to recapitalize the AFFF take-back program. The program was implemented in 2018 by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection in partnership with the Department of Fire Services to assist local fire departments in identifying and disposing of firefighting foam containing PFAS. 


Senator Cyr continued his efforts to improve mental health care in the Commonwealth through the passage of Amendment 702, which adds $200,000 for the Department of Higher Education (DHE) to administer a new, $4,000,000 grant program created by the Senate to help higher education institutions support student behavioral and mental health. Amendment 702’s funds ensure DHE disperses these grant funds swiftly. 

In total, the Senate’s FY23 budget includes a total of $49.78 billion in spending with $854.4 million deposited into the state’s rainy-day fund, bringing that account’s total to $6.74 billion. Structured upon a consensus revenue estimate of 2.7 per cent growth, the budget also funds Unrestricted General Government Aid (UGGA) at $1.231 billion. Other budget highlights are detailed below. 


Drawing on its belief that the state’s recovery is made stronger by a commitment to invest in early education and care, the Senate’s budget makes a $1.13 billion investment into this sector of the care economy, including $300 million in new resources to begin implementation of recommendations made by the Early Education and Care Economy Review Commission. These investments will help to stabilize providers, support the early educator workforce, and provide access to affordable care for children and families. Funding includes: 


  • $25 million for a new infrastructure and policy reform reserve to bolster the statewide system of care and assist families in navigating the early education landscape 
  • $25 million for the center-based childcare rate reserve for reimbursement rates for subsidized care 
  • $16.5 million for grants to the Head Start program to maintain access to early education services for low-income families 
  • $15 million for the Commonwealth Preschool Partnership Initiative to expand access to pre-kindergarten and preschool opportunities in underserved areas 
  • $5 million for the Early Childhood Educators Scholarship 


In K-12 education, the Senate delivers on its promise to fully fund and implement the Student Opportunity Act (SOA) by FY 2027, investing $6 billion in Chapter 70 funding, an increase of $495 million over FY 2022, as well as double minimum Chapter 70 aid from $30 to $60 per pupil. This investment ensures the state remains on schedule to fully implement the law by FY2027, provides school districts with resources to provide high quality educational opportunities, and addresses rising costs and administrative challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic.  


This budget also confronts head-on the issue of higher education student costs by providing $175.2 million for the scholarship reserve, including an additional $37.5 million for the MassGrant and MassGrant Plus programs. An amendment adopted by the Senate also dedicate $1 million to pilot a digital textbook and materials program at a community college or state university to provide student with the opportunity to access free textbooks online. 


The Senate also expands access to inclusive education opportunities for young adults with disabilities through the removal of existing barriers and codifying the Massachusetts Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment grant program. The budget dedicates $4 million in flexible resources for the public higher education system to implement and support inclusive learning options for this diverse student population. Other education investments include: 


  • $10 million for Early College programs and $9 million for the state’s Dual Enrollment initiative, both of which provide high school students with increased opportunities for post-graduate success 
  • $5.5 million, after adding $1.5 million through an amendment, for targeted aid to rural schools 
  • $1.5 million for the Genocide Education Trust Fund, fulfilling our commitment to educate middle and high school students on the history of genocide and support implementation efforts in accordance with Chapter 98 of the Acts of 2021, An Act Concerning Genocide Education, passed by the Legislature in 2021 


Health, Mental Health & Family Care 

For too many—especially children—the post-pandemic world continues to be wrought with uncertainty. To address these concerns, the Senate’s budget focuses on funding a range of services, including social emotional learning (SEL) support for students, domestic violence prevention, substance use disorder treatment, and strengthening our regional boards of health. The budget also supports the expansion of Family Resource Centers (FRCS), which offer resources to families seeking health, safety, educational, and employment services.  


The Massachusetts State Senate’s FY23 budget also sends a strong message that reproductive health and gender affirming health will be protected, despite growing legal uncertainty across the United States. Investments include $2 million for grants for improvements in reproductive health access, infrastructure, and safety. An amendment to the budget also codifies new protections for receiving and providing reproductive and gender-affirming health care in Massachusetts in response to laws in other states allowing their residents to bring legal action against individuals for traveling out-of-state to receive services and against workers who provide care. 


The Senate budget funds MassHealth at a total of $18.56 billion, providing more than 2.1 million people with access to affordable and accessible health care services. Other health investments include: 


  • $514.6 million for Department of Mental Health adult support services, including assisted outpatient programming and comprehensive care coordination among health care providers 
  • $210.3 million for a complete range of substance use disorder treatment and intervention services to support these individuals and their families 
  • $112.5 million for children’s mental health services 
  • $56 million for domestic violence prevention services 
  • $40.4 million for Early Intervention services, ensuring supports remain accessible and available to infants and young toddlers with developmental delays and disabilities 
  • $28.3 million for Family Resource Centers to grow and improve the mental health resources and programming available to families 
  • $20 million to recapitalize the Behavioral Health, Access, Outreach and Support Trust Fund to support targeted behavioral health initiatives 
  • $18.5 million, increased during the amendment process, to expand to all correctional facilities the existing pilot program for the delivery of medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder 
  • $18 million for family and adolescent health, including $7.8 million for comprehensive family planning services and $6.7 million to enhance federal Title X family planning funding 
  • $15 million for grants to support local and regional boards of health, continuing our efforts to build upon the successful State Action for Public Health Excellence (SAPHE) Program 
  • $15 million for emergency department diversion initiatives for children, adolescents, and adults 
  • $8.2 million to support student behavioral health services at the University of Massachusetts, state universities and community colleges 
  • $6 million for Social Emotional Learning Grants to help K-12 schools bolster social emotional learning supports for students, and $1 million to provide mental health screenings for K-12 students 
  • $4.4 million for the Office of the Child Advocate 


The Senate also adopted an amendment that prevents correctional facilities from charging fees to incarcerated persons or their loved ones for prison phone calls, and it also sets a new requirement that commissary items in correctional facilities shall not be sold at more than 3 per cent over the purchase cost. Both changes ensure that our correctional facilities do not unjustly profit off the basic needs of incarcerated persons. 


In addition, the Senate adopted an amendment to address the failures that led to the tragic death of Harmony Montgomery, who was released from state custody in 2019 when she was five years old, but then went missing for two years without being reported. To ensure that a tragedy like this will not happen again, this budget establishes a Harmony Montgomery Commission to study, examine and make recommendations regarding the welfare and best interest considerations of children in care and protection cases and petition to dispense with consent cases. 


Expanding & Protecting Opportunities 

The Senate remains committed to continuing an equitable recovery, expanding opportunity, and supporting the state’s long-term economic health. To that end, the budget includes a record investment in the annual child’s clothing allowance, providing $400 per child for eligible families to buy clothes for the upcoming school year. The budget also includes a 10 per cent increase to Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC) and Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled and Children (EAEDC) benefit levels compared to June 2022 to help families move out of deep poverty. 


With skilled workers in high demand and job openings plentiful, the Senate’s budget invests more than $100 million to bolster job training programs, help connect unemployed and under-employed people with higher paying jobs and support career services that help students gain access and skills to apply for future jobs. Economic opportunity investments include: 


  • $15.4 million for Career Technical Institutes to increase our skilled worker population and provide residents access to career technical training opportunities 
  • $7.5 million for community foundations to provide emergency economic relief to historically underserved populations 
  • $5 million for the Secure Jobs Connect Program, providing job placement resources and assistance for homeless individuals 
  • $4.8 million for the Innovation Pathways program to continue to connect students to trainings and post-secondary opportunities in the industry sector with a focus on STEM fields 
  • $2.5 million for the Massachusetts Cybersecurity Innovation Fund, including $1.5 million to continue partnerships with community colleges and state universities to provide cybersecurity workforce training to students and cybersecurity services to municipalities, non-profits, and small businesses 



An amendment passed by the Senate would also establish a veteran equality review board to ensure that veterans dishonorably discharged under “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” receive state-based veterans’ benefits. Another adopted amendment directs the state to develop one common application portal through which residents can simultaneously apply for multiple forms of state-administered needs-based benefits and services. 



Based on the Senate’s understanding of the strong link housing security has to positive health and economic outcomes, the Senate FY23 budget invests over $900 million in increased funding for housing stability and homelessness assistance to work towards keeping people in their homes and helping individuals and families find permanent housing solutions.  


The budget prioritizes relief for families and individuals who continue to face challenges brought on by both the pandemic and financial insecurity, including $213.2 million for Emergency Assistance Family Shelters and $210 million for Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT), including $60 million carried over from the March supplemental budget. The budget also upholds the emergency-level maximum amount of rental assistance that a household can receive at $10,000. Eligible households facing a housing crisis would also be given access to apply for RAFT and HomeBASE. The budget, through adoption of an amendment, also requires the Department of Housing and Community Development to study and report on the execution of no-fault evictions between 2019 and 2022.  Other housing investments include: 


  • $175 million for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP), including $20.7 million in unspent funds carried forward from FY 2022; the budget also recommends structural program changes that, starting January 1, 2023, will allow households to pay no more than 30% of their income for rent to receive rental vouchers for up to 110% of fair market value   
  • $92 million for assistance to local housing authorities 
  • $83.3 million for assistance for homeless individuals 
  • $56.9 million for the HomeBASE diversion and rapid re-housing programs, bolstering assistance under this program to two years with a per household maximum benefit of $20,000 
  • $19.3 million for the Alternative Housing Voucher Program (AHVP), which provides rental assistance to people with disabilities, including $5.6 million in unspent funds carried forward from FY 2022 and $2.5 million for grants to improve or create accessible affordable housing units 
  • $5 million for sponsored-based supportive permanent housing 
  • $3.9 million for the Home and Healthy for Good re-housing and supportive services program, including $250,000 for homeless LGBTQ+ youth 


Community Support 

The Committee’s budget reflects the Senate’s unwavering support for cities and towns and provides a significant amount of local and regional aid to ensure communities can provide essential services to the public while addressing local impacts caused by the pandemic. This includes $1.231 billion in funding for Unrestricted General Government Aid (UGGA), an increase of $63 million over FY 2022, to support additional resources for cities and towns. In addition to traditional sources of local aid, the Committee’s budget increases payments in lieu of taxes (PILOT) for state-owned land to $45 million, an increase of $10 million over FY 2022. PILOT funding is a vital source of supplemental local aid for cities and towns working to protect and improve access to essential services and programs during recovery from the pandemic. Other local investments include: 


  • $96.5 million for Regional Transit Authorities (RTAs) to support regional public transportation systems, including $2.5 million for the implementation of pilot programs for fare innovation and reduction across the state 
  • $40.8 million for libraries, including $14.5 million for regional library local aid, $16 million for municipal libraries and $4.7 million for technology and automated resource networks 
  • $22.3 million for the Massachusetts Cultural Council to support local arts, culture and creative economy initiatives 
  • $3 million for Non-Profit Security Grants, after an increase of $1.5 million through the amendment process, to cover vital security enhancements to houses of worship, community centers, and other institutions at heightened risk of violence 
  • $1 million for the New American Voter Grant Program to provide accessible election materials to municipalities with significant non-English speaking populations and promote public awareness about voting  


The Senate also adopted an amendment based on recommendations of the PFAS Interagency Task Force, which would provide $250,000 for the continued implementation of the AFFF Take-Back Program that funds the collection and proper disposal of Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF) stored by municipal fire departments and other public safety partners in Massachusetts. 


Another amendment passed in the budget would also extend COVID-19 state-of-emergency provisions related to remote public meetings, flexible town meetings, remote notaries, remote corporate meeting and remote mortgage video conferencing.  


The Senate’s FY23 Budget is available on the Massachusetts legislature’s website: Now that the Senate and Massachusetts House of Representatives has passed their respective budget proposals, both branches will now work together, form a conference committee and reconcile differences.  


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