Governor's budget appropriation supports MBA-backed provisions

Thursday, Aug. 10, 2023
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Governor Maura Healey yesterday signed a $56 billion budget appropriation for fiscal year 2024, which began on July 1. The budget, her first as governor, sees a 6.2 percent increase in spending over fiscal year 2023. 
Included in the budget were several Massachusetts Bar Association-backed provisions. “We are grateful to Governor Healey and the Legislature for recognizing the need for increased access to justice for our citizens and for taking solid steps to address it,” said Martin W. Healy, chief legal counsel and chief operating officer. “We look forward to continued collaboration with the executive and legislative branches to increase access to justice for all."

Additional Probate and Family Court judges

The budget provides for eight additional judges in the Probate and Family Court. Probate and Family Court case filings are increasing, as is the complexity of Probate and Family Court matters. The additional judges will help improve the administration of justice. 

Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation

The budget provides $49 million in funding for civil legal aid, an $8 million increase over FY23. Increased funding for civil legal aid will help civil legal aid organizations keep pace with the ever-increasing demand for legal services as our communities continue to grapple with a wide range of issues, including domestic violence, housing, unemployment and immigration. Civil legal aid is a vital resource for low-income residents facing difficulties accessing their basic needs. 

No-cost phone calls

No-cost calls for those in prisons and jails in Massachusetts were also included in the spending provision. An amendment filed by Healey changes the implementation date to Dec. 1, 2023. This will make Massachusetts the fifth state to provide no-cost calls to those incarcerated. The exorbitant call rates in Massachusetts are a financial burden for some families, forcing them to choose between basic needs and keeping in contact with a loved one. Free phone calls will help those incarcerated maintain relationships needed to successfully transition back into society after release.