Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey will make news tomorrow when she releases her first state budget proposal for fiscal year ’24. It will be a fiscal snapshot of her policy priorities, and we’re excited to see how she invests in early education and care.
Healey stands on a strong funding foundation. As our budget analysis explains, the state’s FY’23 budget made historic investments in the early childhood system, including:
• a $1.16 billion budget for the Department of Early Education and Care, which is a 45% increase over FY22.
• a new $175 million High-Quality Early Education & Care Affordability Fund, which supports recommendations made in the Special Legislative Early Education and Care Economic Review Commission
• an Economic Development bill signed into law in November that provided an additional $150 million for C3 Stabilization Grants, and $315 million for the Affordability Fund
Advocates hope Healey will continue to increase the state’s investment, and so far, the signs are promising. Yesterday, Healey announced a major tax relief proposal that includes $458 million for a new Child and Family Tax Credit that will “provide families with a $600 credit per dependent, including children under 13, people with disabilities, and senior dependents aged 65 and older,” a press release says.
This tax relief proposal “will be factored into the budget Healey will file on Wednesday,” according to a State House News story published in the Lowell Sun. “It will be up to the Democrats who control the House and Senate to decide whether to increase or decrease the scope of Healey’s proposals.”
Healey’s goal is to provide economic relief.
“Everywhere we go,” Healey says in the press release, “the Lieutenant Governor and I hear from people who are struggling to get by as the cost of living continues to skyrocket past them – the family watching their grocery bill grow each week, the young mom who wants to return to her dream job but can’t afford child care…”
Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll adds, “Massachusetts is a national leader in so many ways – in education, business, science and technology, democracy and civil rights. But we’re not leading when it comes to affordability… Our tax relief package will put more money back in the pockets of those who need it most while also making key reforms in areas where we are an outlier among other states.”
And Bill Eddy, the executive director of the Massachusetts Association of Early Education & Care, says, “Throughout the campaign, the Governor spoke about the need to make early education more affordable for Massachusetts’ families. Today’s expansion of the Child and Family tax credit is an important step in that direction as it offers parents a straightforward and easy-to-understand approach that prioritizes their bottom line.”
Healey’s tax relief proposal is also important because it aligns closely with the Early Childhood Agenda. Priority three in the Agenda calls for the creation of “a robust and inclusive Child and Family Tax Credit.” (Click here to learn more about the Early Childhood Agenda, a plan for making progress in Massachusetts based on input from more than 1,000 early childhood partners across the state.)
The Early Childhood Agenda’s lead advocate for establishing a tax credit is the Healthy Families Tax Credits Coalition, which is led by Children’s HealthWatch at Boston Medical Center and “consists of community-based agencies, legal advocates, researchers, professional associations, social service providers, tax preparers, health providers, and Massachusetts workers and their families.” If you’d like to get involved with this coalition, fill out this Google form.
Please, stay tuned. Later this week, we’ll share more about Healey’s budget proposal and what it could mean for young children and their families and for early educators.