BOSTON (WWLP) – Tuesday starts the budget debate in the Massachusetts Senate.

The Senate budget debate kicked off today and Senators took to the chamber, and their computers, to debate the over eleven hundred amendments.

With COVID cases rising in the State House, Senators were told to mask up or consider working remotely during this year’s budget process. The day started with are 1,178 amendments for the Senators to consider.

With the state seeing above-projected revenues, the Senate plans to boost the rainy day fund to $6.74 billion, above the House’s plan of $6.55 billion. The Senate budget is also proposing $1.23 billion in local aid money.

The Senate matched the House with $6 billion in Chapter 70 aid to local schools, and included $648 million for the University of Massachusetts system.

Senator Hind’s stated his local priorities include funding for regional transportation authorities, the Berkshire Flyer, and education. Senator Adam Hinds said, “I’m always focused on education, the line item that we’ve established in the budget to help schools in Western Mass that have low and declining enrollment, we’re trying to grow that line item even more this year.”

There are also 19 separate tax changes on the table, like dropping the state’s gas tax. However, Senate President Karen Spilka has said tax relief will not be handled until after the conclusion of this year’s budget. Amendments are often bundled to speed the process along and the Senate is expected to finish well before the Memorial Day weekend.

Once the budget is approved, it will go to a conference committee to develop a final version.