Major Budget Wins This Week in the State Senate

Special to the Times-Free Press

The Massachusetts State Senate convened this week to debate and finalize the $57.999 billion Senate budget package, bringing significant resources to the residents of the Commonwealth, particularly those in Senator Lydia Edwards’ Third Suffolk district. The community-focused budget achievements this session promise substantial investments in the essential needs of the Commonwealth’s residents. Budget highlights for the Third Suffolk include the following:

Environmental Resiliency and Parks Preservation

A grant of $50,000 has been awarded to the Friends of Belle Isle Marsh to support the implementation of critical environmental preservation programs. Additionally, the Friends of the Public Garden will receive $50,000 for the enhancement of public bathroom accessibility infrastructure.

Recovery and Expungement Services

The Big Home Project, Inc. has been allocated $50,000 to reduce recidivism through record expungement and workforce education. Furthermore, Community Against Substance Abuse, Inc. (CASA) of Winthrop has been granted $30,000 to bolster substance use treatment programs in Winthrop.

Food Insecurity

To combat food insecurity, $10,000 grants have been provided to each of the following food service providers: the Veterans Food Bank in Winthrop, Grace Church Federated Food Pantry in East Boston, Friday Night Supper Program, Inc. in Back Bay, and the First Congregational Church of Revere. Additionally, $50,000 has been allocated to support food services at the Women’s Lunch Place, Inc. in Back Bay.

Arts and Sports Accessibility

The East Boston community has received a $50,000 grant for the organization of the East Boston Latino Festival in the summer of 2024. Another $50,000 has been dedicated to supporting arts education in Winthrop public schools, alongside a $25,000 grant to the Winthrop Little League to help support the upgrade of the dugouts.

Housing Resources

A grant of $75,000 has been allocated to the City of Revere to establish a pilot program offering grants of at least $5,000 directed to eligible first-time homebuyers. This program targets individuals who have resided in a selected jurisdiction for a minimum of 18 months. The Crossroads Family Shelter in East Boston has been awarded $50,000 to provide comprehensive mental health, substance use, and clinical recovery services for individuals and families affected by homelessness.

Translation Services for Winthrop public schools

Winthrop public schools have been granted $200,000 in additional funds for programs that concern English as a second language instruction and technical support.

Low-Income and First-Generation College Education A grant of $75,000 shall be allocated to Bottom Line, Inc. to offer college transition and retention services for low-income or aspiring first-generation college students.

Health Center Coverage Equity

This legislative fix works to adjust reimbursement rates at health centers at Neighbor Health/EBNHC, Codman, Dorchester House, and South Boston. These health centers have large uninsured patient populations. Of the four health centers, EBNHC is the most impacted. Ultimately, this budget-neutral resolution will increase reimbursement rates resulting in up to $3 million a year for EBNHC and up to $1 million a year for the other health centers.

Water Transportation

By allocating $7.5 million to ferry services the state senate made the largest annual investment in water transportation in years. This has been a long journey in the district to ensure that we have reliable, accessible, and permanent transportation. In the FY23 budget, Senator Edwards obtained $1 million to sustain ferry operations during the closure of the Sumner Tunnel. The following FY, she obtained an additional $1 million to support transportation during the closure of the Sumner Tunnel. Today, the ferry is operated by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), another win for Winthrop. Senator Edwards continued her work to improve ferry services with additional funding and an East Boston stop. Sincere gratitude is given to the Healy administration, who’s support in water transportation endeavors includes the appointment of David Perry as the first ever Director of Commuter Ferry Services.

The water transportation funds obtained in this budget will be used to expand service hours, increase frequency by transitioning seasonal services to year-round operations by July 1, 2025, and introduce weekend services in Winthrop and Quincy by the same date. Additionally, fare equity improvements in Winthrop to pay Zone 1A rates, route streamlining for Quincy, Hingham, Hull, and Winthrop, and new routes to and from Logan International Airport will further enhance our transportation infrastructure and provide better accessibility for all residents with consistent infrastructure for payments so that all riders can use their Charlie Cards.

Other Budget Highlights


The senate’s budget codifies MassEducate, a $117.5 million investment creating a universal free community college program. In addition, the budget allocates $15 million for Early College programs and $13.1 million for the state’s Dual Enrollment initiative, both of which provide high school students with increased opportunities for post-graduate success. Finally, the budget provides $59.7 million for adult basic education services to improve access to skills necessary to join the workforce.


During FY25 debate, the Senate unanimously adopted an amendment codifying the Women Veterans Network into Massachusetts state law and instituting new responsibilities to ensure we are reaching all women veterans. Women continue to be the fastest growing population of veterans, and the Senate has championed increased funding and studies on the needs of women veterans since the FY22 budget.

The budget allocates $51.3 million for libraries, including $19 million for regional library local aid, $20 million for municipal libraries and $6.2 million for technology and automated resource networks.


The senate budget provides for $23 million to support implementation of a low-income fare program at the MBTA and $214 million for Regional Transit Authorities (RTAs) to support regional public transportation systems.

Seniors The senate provided for $582.1 million for nursing facility Medicaid rates, including $112 million in additional base rate payments to maintain competitive wages in the Commonwealth’s nursing facility workforce. It also provided $28.5 million for grants to local Councils on Aging to increase assistance per elder to $15 from $14 in FY24. A conference committee will now be appointed to reconcile differences between the versions of the budget passed by the Senate and House of Representatives.

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