BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts is planning to shutter MCI-Concord, the state’s oldest prison for men, as it continues to see a drop in the prison population statewide.

Closing the medium security facility, which opened in 1878, will save the state about $16 million a year according to a $58 billion budget plan Gov. Maura Healey unveiled Wednesday.


“It also reflects the fact that our prison population has declined. It’s at the lowest point it has been in 35 years,” Healey said. “It’s a matter of justice too.”

The prison is only at about half-capacity and would need extensive repairs if it were kept open, said state Sen. Jamie Eldridge, Democratic co-chair of the Joint Committee on the Judiciary. The approximately 400 prisoners still at the facility will be sent to other prisons.

The prison could be closed as early as June, said Eldridge, who credited the declining number of inmates in part to efforts by the state to reduce recidivism.

“If there was going to be a prison closed in Mass, MCI Concord was the one,” he said, pointing to a 2018 law that decriminalized some minor offenses and expanded provisions meant to help divert people from involvement in the criminal justice system.

The fiscal year 2025 budget Healey unveiled Wednesday included several proposals the Democrat previewed during her State of the Commonwealth speech earlier this month, including lowering the staggering cost of housing and childcare and making Massachusetts “the climate innovation lab for the world.”

It doesn’t rely on any new broad-based taxes and won’t require a withdrawal from the state’s rainy day fund, according to Healey, who said the budget would increase spending by just under 3 percent, the smallest growth in about five years.

The budget would spend the anticipated $1.3 billion raised from the voter-approved “millionaire tax” on transportation and education, including a universal school meals program and a low-income fare relief program for greater Boston’s public transit system.

The release of the budget comes more than two weeks after Healey announced $375 million in budget cuts for the current fiscal year as the administration seeks to close an expected $1 billion shortfall with monthly revenues coming in at a slower pace than expected.

Included in the budget is a proposal that would guarantee that every 4-year-old in the state’s 26 former industrial “Gateway Cities” has the chance, at low or no cost, to enroll in a high-quality preschool program by 2026.

Healey said her budget would also help an additional 4,000 low- and moderate-income families afford child care and out-of-school programs.

Healey acknowledged that the state has also come under increasing pressure as it tries to cope with a continued influx of migrants, straining the state’s homeless shelter system.

Her family shelter plan would rely on $325 million out of the fiscal year 2025 budget as well as on a additional proposal that gives the state access to nearly $900 million out of a surplus spending account to help cover cost for both fiscal year 2024 and fiscal year 2025 family shelter costs.

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr credited Healey for beginning to recognize “the gathering fiscal storm clouds swirling above our state.”

But he cautioned against proposing increased spending.

“As we navigate through the budgetary process, it is crucial to strike a balance between immediate needs and the long-term sustainability of critical programs,” the Republican said in statement. “Now is the time to tighten our belt and prevent avoidable, unsustainable spending.”

The budget also includes a proposal that would allow bail to be paid electronically and another proposal that would let the lottery set rules and regulations for lotteries conducted online or through mobile applications.

The budget now goes to the Massachusetts House and Senate, which must come up with their own proposed budgets. Those two documents will have to be combined into a single budget that will be sent back to Healey for her signature and any vetoes she wants to make.

Healey said the administration is also trying to tackle the state’s housing problem by pushing a $4 billion housing plan, which she said would make it easier to find affordable places to live in the state.

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