January 26, 2024
On January 24 Governor Healey released her second budget proposal, proposing continuing and increasing some important investments in a challenging fiscal environment. The Governor’s commitment to environmental justice is reaffirmed, proposing Environmental Justice liaisons across the EEA agencies to support community outreach, public hearings, and stakeholder involvement, and better align hiring practices and inter-agency coordination with environmental justice principles – in addition to $2 million for a secretariat-wide training program to ensure the principles of EJ are embedded in all EEA activities at all levels.
The governor’s budget proposes $25 million in funding for the Healthy Incentives Program, recognizing the program has grown with the addition of 100 new farmers in 2022. The Campaign for HIP Funding is grateful to the Governor’s administration to see this confident investment in the program, and looks forward to working with the Legislature to support this funding.
MDAR would be re-organized to gain a division of food security under this proposal. This new division would oversee FSIG, MEFAP and local food supply investments. The proposed budget would again support the Food Security Infrastructure Grant program with $25 million. Under this proposal, the program would be moved from the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) to the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR). This is an exciting development and we look forward to continuing to work with agency staff on the FSIG program.
The budget for the Department of Environmental Protection supports staff positions that expand their work sampling of landfills and water facilities for PFAS.
The budget increases MEFAP by $2 million to $37 million total, and includes funding for permanent universal school meals at $170 million. As more students have been eating lunch from
The briefs from the Governor’s office talk specifically about the food system in the food security, uplifting rural communities, and sustainable development for the future briefs. Overall, this is a good budget that supports a sustainable, equitable, resilient local food system in a challenging fiscal environment.
The Governor’s budget is just the first step in a months-long process to determining spending levels for the next fiscal year. The House will propose and debate a budget in late March, followed by the Senate in May. The two chambers and the governor then must reconcile the three proposals into a single budget by July 1. The Collaborative will work with legislators and stakeholders to ensure that food system issues are represented throughout the debate. Please watch our social media and newsletter for opportunities to support these efforts.