House bulks up, approved $49.7B budget | News
BOSTON — The House passed a $49.7 billion fiscal 2023 budget Wednesday evening after adding nearly $130 million in spending through seven mega-amendments over the course of three days.
Speaking from the floor of the House at the outset of the debate, House Ways and Means Chair Rep. Aaron Michlewitz said the state has witnessed a “roller-coaster revenue experience” over the last four years, including the last two in a pandemic.
“[The] budget that is before us today presents the commonwealth with a unique opportunity to be forward-thinking while solving some immediate needs by investing in the middle class as we start to tackle some of the challenges the post-COVID world has created,” the House’s chief budget writer said Monday.
“This once in a generation opportunity allows us to build for a better future, one that is more resilient, more equitable, and more rewarding for all of us in the commonwealth.”
Lawmakers dispensed with 1,522 budget amendments through a number of large packages that were split up by subject category. The House approved the first on Monday, which included $500,000 for the new Genocide Education Trust Fund, a program lawmakers have said will help younger generations learn about some of the world’s worst mass killings and genocides.
Representatives worked through three more consolidated amendments on Tuesday, adding another $88.3 million in spending and approving language outlawing child marriage in the state and increasing judicial system salaries.
The House added another $33 million Wednesday through three more mega-amendments covering energy, environmental affairs, and housing; state administration, constitutional officers and transportation; and economic development. Rep. Josh Cutler said the bill includes $137 million for the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development, a $20 million increase over last year, and $15 million for MassHire, which he called one of the state’s “key cogs in our workforce system.”
“These one-stop regional career centers serve as a conduit between job seekers and businesses looking to fill positions,” Cutler said. “Since March of 2020, more than 100,000 workers in Massachusetts have turned to MassHire for career counseling, job search support, and referrals to vocational training.” House Democrats rejected Monday a Republican push to include tax relief in the budget including efforts to temporarily suspend the gas tax, lessen impacts of the estate and capital gains tax, and boost a tax break for senior citizens.