Two months into 2024, Beacon Hill is buzzing as many high-priority deadlines approach.

Governor Healey released her FY25 Budget, including $58.13 billion in total line-item spending, a 3.7% increase from FY24. For the past seven months, tax revenues have come in under benchmark. In February, we learned that January tax revenues came in 6.9% below collections from last January, 6.8% below the Governor’s adjusted benchmark for January 2024, and 12.8% below January’s original benchmark. With the trend we have been seeing, a 3.7% increase may still be too ambitious, although close to inflation. The state’s financial outlook for FY24 will become much clearer once April revenues have come in, as April has historically been the state’s best month for tax revenues. The House is scheduled to release its budget in April, followed by the Senate in May, with the goal of a completed and signed budget from the Governor by July.

The Legislature jumped a procedural hurdle known as Joint Rule 10 Day as they approached the final stretch of the legislative session. Joint Rule 10 requires joint committees to report on legislation no later than the First Wednesday in February during the second year of the legislative session, February 7th. The committees have a few options for each piece of legislation. The bills can either advance by receiving a “Favorable Report,” if the committee thinks they need more time, they can extend the deadline, or they can kill the bill by giving it an “Unfavorable Report” (less common) or let the bill die by sending it to “Study Order” (more common).

Joint Rule 10 does not provide much insight into what legislative priorities will get passed before the end of the session, but it is a clear indicator of what bill definitely won’t get done. For example, the “Common Start” bill (S 301/H 489), which would subsidize some early education costs and invest in teacher retention, received a “Favorable Report.” This does not mean this bill will get passed, but it cleared a significant hurdle and can stay in the race. On the other hand, a bill that would legalize teacher strikes (H 1845/ S 1217) was sent to “Study Order,” which means we won’t see any action on this bill before the July 31st deadline, and it will need to be refiled during the next legislative session if it hopes to become law.

While the next legislative session is still about nine months away, many legislators and candidates are deciding right now whether or not they should throw their hat in the political ring for elections this fall. Typically, there is very little change in the state delegation, especially here on the South Coast, but 2024 is not a typical year, with two open seats up for grabs on the South Coast, one in the Senate and one in the House.

State Senator Marc Pacheco, the longest-serving State Senator, announced he would not run for another term. Senator Pacheco was elected to the House in 1988 and became a senator in 1993, earning himself the title of “Dean of the Senate,” awarded to the longest continuously serving Senator. He currently represents the Third Bristol and Plymouth District, which includes Berkley, Carver, Dighton, Marion, Middleborough, Raynham, Rehoboth, Seekonk, Taunton, and Wareham. One South Coast owes Senator Pacheco our gratitude for his hard work, dedication, and a career committed to public service.

State Representative Paul Schmid, who serves the Eight Bristol District, also announced he would not seek reelection this fall. The Eight Bristol spans much of the South Coast and includes parts of Acushnet, Fall River, Freetown, New Bedford, and Westport. Representative Schmid is the Chair of the Joint Committee on Agriculture and has been a staunch advocate for the business community since he was elected in 2010. One SouthCoast is losing a great friend and partner on Beacon Hill, but we wish Representative Schmid all the best in his next chapter and thank him for his years of service to our community.