Guest Op-Ed: Healey-Driscoll Administration Highlights 100 Days of Making Massachusetts More Affordable, Competitive and Equitable

Special to the Journal

Governor Maura T. Healey and Lieutenant Governor Kimberley Driscoll’s 100th day in office was on April 15, and they are highlighting their key accomplishments to make Massachusetts more affordable, competitive and equitable.

In addition to building out a strong team of cabinet members, the administration filed its first budget and tax package that propose historic investments in education, transportation and climate and deliver relief for seniors, renters and families. Governor Healey also swiftly followed through on key pledges, such as establishing a housing secretariat and proposing an expanded Child and Family Tax Credit, free community college for students over 25, full funding of the Student Opportunity Act, one percent of the budget for the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs and tripling the budget of the Clean Energy Center.

And when faced when a radical ruling from a federal court judge in Texas that threatened reproductive freedom in Massachusetts, Governor Healey took immediate action to protect access to medication abortion in the state.

“As we pass the 100-day mark of our administration, our entire team is just as energized and committed to delivering results as we were on Day One. I’m proud that we hit the ground running, building out a strong Cabinet of experienced, dedicated leaders who share our drive to meet this moment for Massachusetts,” said Governor Healey. “We’ve made important progress on housing, food security, transportation, climate and education, and we’ve brought new voices to the table and gotten out into communities to meet people where they are. There’s much more work to be done to make Massachusetts more affordable, competitive and equitable, but we’ve set a solid foundation in these first 100 days that we will continue to build on in the years to come.”

“100 days goes by in the blink of an eye when you’re busy working for the people of Massachusetts all day every day. We knew when we took office that the challenges before us were daunting, but that there was enormous opportunity as well,” said Lieutenant Governor Driscoll. “We’re proud to have made important strides in making Massachusetts a better place to live, work, go to school, raise a family and build a future. In the days, months and years ahead, we’re not going to let up steam. We’re going to continue to hustle every day to deliver results for Massachusetts.”

100 Days Highlights

The Healey-Driscoll administration filed a $55.5 billion budget proposal and $750 million tax relief package that builds a strong economy, livable communities, and a sustainable future by:

• Creating a Child and Family Tax Credit, increasing the rental deduction and senior circuit breaker, and reforming the estate and short-term capital gains tax to keep up with other states.

• Creating MassReconnect, which offers free community college to students over 25 years old and expanding Early College and Innovation Pathways programs.

• Dedicating 1% of the state’s overall budget to the Executive Office of Energy and Environment.

• Tripling investment in the Clean Energy Center, which is leading the way in clean energy entrepreneurship, job creation, and home electrification.

• Creating the Environmental Justice Office, led by the Undersecretary of Environmental Justice and Equity, and hiring 14 Environmental Justice Liaisons.

• Establishing a new Education and Transportation Fund to protect Fair Share revenue and maximize this new funding source.

• Fully funding the Student Opportunity Act for K-12 education, the largest dollar-amount increase in Massachusetts’ K-12 schools in state history.

• Notifying municipalities of local aid funding levels early to give them a head start on planning to deploy these funds for residents.

• Freezing the tuition at the University of Massachusetts for four years and freezing fees at other state universities for four years.

• Fully supporting the Commonwealth Cares for Children (C3) to help child care providers keep the doors open and invest in programming and staff.

• Investing in transportation across the state, including MBTA fares program, the Red-Blue connector, West-East Rail, and Regional Transit Authorities.

Governor Healey signed a $389 supplemental budget for fiscal year 2023 that combines many of the priorities the administration outlined in three separate bills filed by the Governor, including:

• Investments in C3 grants, MassWorks, the Clean Water Trust, RAFT, broadband infrastructure, a reproductive health services awareness campaign, the NAACP Conference, and support for the public health workforce ahead of the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency.

• Matching grants to compete for federal dollars through the CHIPS and Science Act.

• Funding for the state’s housing shelter system to support families and children.

• Universal school meals through the end of the 2023 school year to make sure kids can focus on learning in the classroom instead of worrying about hunger.

• A three month off ramp for the end of enhanced federal SNAP benefits, providing families with 40% of the previous federal benefit to help keep food on the table.

Governor Healey announced the appointment of a new, experienced transit leader as MBTA General Manager and took steps to improve transparency and address staffing shortages at the MBTA, including:

• Launched an online safety dashboard to provide transparency around the status of FTA special directives, as well as an online speed restrictions dashboard.

• Implemented $7,500 sign-on bonuses for all eligible positions across the MBTA (Bus Operators, Rail Repairers, Track Laborers, Streetcar Operators, Subway Train Operators, Service Technicians and Fuelers) and proposed $20 million for recruitment and retention efforts in a supplemental budget.

• Established a technical working group to identify process improvements at CRRC to expedite car delivery and improve safety.

By Executive Order, Governor Healey:

• Appointed the nation’s first cabinet-level Climate Chief to lead the new Office of Climate Innovation and Resilience and established a Climate Cabinet.

• Established a Housing Working Group to examine the structure of the administration’s new Housing Secretariat.

• Established Governor’s Councils on Black Empowerment and Latino Empowerment.

• Reconstituted a historically diverse and talented Judicial Nominating Commission.

• Led the Executive Branch to conduct equity assessments.

The Healey-Driscoll administration also:

• Joined the multistate Reproductive Freedom Alliance, stockpiled mifepristone and issued an Executive Order protecting access to medication abortion and protection for patients and providers.

• Filed a supplemental budget for fiscal year 2024 that extends universal school meals through the end of 2024 school year and explores how to keep the program running long-term, invests in MBTA hiring, and makes preparations for the end of the COVID-19 health emergency.

• Launched a $50 million grant program to fund decarbonization retrofits of existing low- or moderate-income residential buildings.

• Created the Office of Federal and Regional Energy Affairs to promote regional cooperation and advocate for advancing the state’s clean energy transition with federal, state, and other stakeholders.

• Created the position of Director of Federal Funds and Infrastructure to drive and support the state and municipalities’ competition for federal funding and convened an Interagency Task Force.

• Filed and worked with the Legislature to establish the Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities.

• Created the position of Director of Rural Affairs to serve as a dedicated advocate and ombudsman for rural communities, responsible for cultivating rural economic development to ensure that state government is attuned to the unique needs of rural communities.

• Appointed the state’s first Secretary of the newly established Executive Office of Veterans’ Services.

• Announced 9 new early college programs including the first partnership with UMass to expand access to high schools.

• Created the Office of Environmental Justice and Equity and the Office of Federal and Regional Energy Affairs.

• Announced a Director of Data Initiatives to strategize the state’s economic growth and launched a Future Skills awareness campaign to connect talent with employers.

• Established the Municipal Cybersecurity Awareness program to fund 177 cities and towns with cybersecurity training.

The following Op-ed was written by the Healey Driscoll offices.

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