A year ago, Massachusetts legislators had just ended a marathon and unprecedented legislative session that virtually never ended. At that time, the outlook for the new 192nd General Court was cautiously optimistic amid an ongoing pandemic.

As 2022 kicks off, the forecast sees familiar challenges, though some of the conditions on the ground have changed.

The first half of the two-year legislative session saw investments through the fiscal 2022 state budget, buoyed by an increasingly rosy revenue picture, as well as a multi-billion COVID recovery package supported by both American Rescue Plan Act funds and the fiscal 2021 state surplus.

The second half of the session begins this month, and members of the Massachusetts House and Senate are poised to tackle many priorities before they recess later this summer. This segment of the legislative session will be shorter, with formal deliberations scheduled to end on July 31.

The first priority will be the fiscal 2023 state budget process. Gov. Charlie Baker is expected to release his budget recommendation, known as House 2, in late January, with the Legislature planning to finalize a bill by July.

Despite anxiety and a series of COVID-19 surges, state tax receipts are maintaining a record-breaking pace. To further invest the results of economic growth over the past few years, the MMA will be advocating for a significant increase to Unrestricted General Government Aid to support key services for the 351 municipalities in Massachusetts.

Cities and towns have and will continue to lean on predictable and adequate state revenue sharing to support essential municipal services and maintain local infrastructure, especially with the tight cap on local property taxes.

For the MMA Legislative Division, other key areas early in 2022 will be an overdue increase in funding for local roads via the Chapter 90 program and much-needed extensions to many vital pandemic-related provisions, such as remote meeting participation, vote by mail, expanded local licensing authority, and remote Town Meetings, among others.

Other top policy priorities for the House and Senate are expected to include bills related to elections, mental health, health care, and sports betting. Legislators are also expected to tackle another COVID recovery bill to spend the more than $2.5 billion remaining in state ARPA funds.

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