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Gov. Maura Healey continued Wednesday to focus on the spending side of her annual state budget, visiting a community college in Charlestown to promote her plan to have taxpayers cover the cost of community college for any resident 25 or older without a college degree or equivalent industry credential.

Healey said her budget bill, which will be fully unveiled later in the day, will include funding for the MassReconnect program and investments in workforce development and early college programs, all designed to boost opportunities for individuals and employers and address the state’s labor shortages.

The governor will ask lawmakers to allocate $20 million to create MassReconnect, a program that will “offer students last-dollar financial support to cover the cost of tuition, fees, books and supplies as well as provide funding for career and wraparound support services to encourage retention and degree-completion.” Healey also plans new public investments in apprenticeship programs and health care worker training.

“The MassReconnect program would give more than 1.8 million residents who have a high school diploma or equivalency, many of whom are students of color, the financial flexibility to consider advancing their education without having to worry about incurring unaffordable debt,” the administration said in a morning announcement. “It can also help bring back students who have received some college credit but did not finish their degree. As of July 2020, nearly 696,000 Massachusetts residents had some college credit but no degree – the majority of whom are over 25.”

The governor’s budget (H.1), which will be referred to the House Ways and Means Committee, will propose $46.9 million for early college and innovation pathways, a $14.4 million increase over this year’s budget. The administration estimates that under its early college plans more than 18,000 students in the 2023-2024 school year will have the opportunity to earn up to 12 college credits before graduating. The pathways program will enroll more than 10,000 students in courses across “priority industries” including IT, engineering, health care, life sciences and advanced manufacturing, the administration said. The governor’s office also noted in a statement that the budget includes $17.9 million to support career technical institutes, which help close skills training gaps by expanding access to vocational education, and $5 million for registered apprenticeship programs. The latter provision, Healey’s office said, would build on the her proposed expansion of the apprenticeship tax credit and a $4 million increase from current funding. 

At Bunker Hill Community College in Charlestown, Healey also announced her budget will propose $18 million for the Community College SUCCESS fund, $17.9 million to support career technical institutes, $5 million for registered apprenticeship programs, $1.15 million for the health care worker training and AFL-CIO workforce development programs, and $16.2 million for Youthworks to connect more young people with jobs during the summer and school year.

Healey Outlines Workforce Investment Plans

by State House News Service time to read: 2 min