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Published on May 24, 2024
Massachusetts Senate Approves Historic $58 Billion Budget, Ushers in Free Community CollegeSource: Google Street View

In the wee hours after a brief evacuation due to a water leak scare, the Massachusetts Senate hammered through a colossal $58 billion budget deal, culminating in a vote that will forever change the educational landscape for its residents. This unanimous vote, interrupted by State House alarms, paves the path for free community college across the Commonwealth. The Senate pushed the bill through just after midnight Friday, assuring support for a spectrum of initiatives from K-12 education to transportation infrastructure.

Despite the interruption causing a rare nocturnal evacuation, senators regrouped to lay down a landmark unanimous vote—a declaration that not only will physically open college doors, but also symbolically open an era of heightened accessibility and opportunity in higher education. "Today our chamber took a vote of confidence in every Massachusetts resident going to school, raising a family, and working to make ends meet—today we took a vote for an affordable, competitive and equitable Commonwealth," Senate President Karen Spilka proclaimed, as relayed by NBC Boston.

The WCVB reported that the Senate meticulously scrutinized and adopted over 400 amendments, leading up to the final vote, which will also shower funding upon universal school meals, early education, public transportation, emergency housing, and notably, $1.4 billion towards housing investments. This also includes plans to tackle the contentious issue of equity theft—a practice where properties can be seized and profited from over unpaid taxes, a topic having been under the investigative lens since last summer.

But the headline grabber of the night—MassEducate, a $117.5 million dollar commitment, will make fully paid community college a right for state residents, to be fostered by revenue generated from the millionaire tax. This budgetary consecration of MassEducate was hailed by Senator Spilka, who said in a statement obtained by NBC Boston, "This budget is an investment in our people, and it is an investment in our collective future." With the Massachusetts fiscal 2025 budget set to kick in come July 1, committee meetings will soon convene to reconcile the House and Senate's approved budgets.