Showing posts with label Gov Healey. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gov Healey. Show all posts

Saturday, March 25, 2023

MMA: "Legislature passes supplemental budget with pandemic-era extensions, key investments"

The House and Senate both passed a compromise supplemental 2023 budget bill today that includes a majority of the governor’s proposed “immediate needs” bond bill as well as extensions of pandemic-related authorizations related to public meetings and outdoor dining.

The bill was originally filed by Gov. Maura Healey in January, and both chambers had passed slightly different versions earlier this month.

The final bill (H. 47) includes extensions to pandemic-related authorizations that were set to expire next week.

The bill would:
• Allow remote and hybrid meeting options for public bodies through March 31, 2025
• Allow remote and hybrid participation options for representative town meetings through March 31, 2025
• Permit reduced quorums for open town meetings through March 31, 2025
• Extend the expedited outdoor dining permit process through April 1, 2024

The legislation started as H.47 and ended up on the Governor's desk as  H.58 -

MMA: "Legislature passes supplemental budget with pandemic-era extensions, key investments"
MMA: "Legislature passes supplemental budget with pandemic-era extensions, key investments"

Friday, March 10, 2023

Senate Passes $368.7 Million Supplemental Budget; now to Reconcile Cmte before going to Governor Healey

Bill funds essential services relied on by vulnerable populations, extends COVID-era measures, authorizes public works bonding to support cities and towns

The Massachusetts State Senate on Thursday passed a $368.7 million supplemental budget for Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23). The legislation funds vital services that support vulnerable populations and address food insecurity, housing instability, the state's long-term COVID-19 response, economic development, essential support services for incoming immigrants and refugees, and more. Notably, the bill extends initiatives first implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as outdoor dining, remote public meeting access, and support for assisted living residences. The bill further authorizes $814.3 in bonding to bolster the Commonwealth's clean water and other public works projects for cities and towns, as well as to support the Commonwealth's ability to compete for competitive federal grant funds. 

"This supplemental budget ensures that our Commonwealth continues to support the most vulnerable among us while also building on the lessons we learned during the COVID-19 pandemic," said Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). "I'm proud to say that this body has proven once again that it has the courage to chart a course that leaves no place or person in the Commonwealth behind. As I have said since the start of the pandemic, we must go 'back to better,' not 'back to normal.' With today's supplemental budget, I am pleased to see the Senate take one more step toward this goal. I would like to thank my colleagues, especially Chair Rodrigues and his dedicated team at Senate Ways and Means, for their hard work and contributions to this supplemental budget."

"As we continue to emerge from the pandemic, the Legislature has taken the necessary steps to keep the economy of the Commonwealth on a firm footing. The passage of this supplemental budget today utilizes robust tax revenues to its fullest effect, making substantial investments in economic development, housing, education, and the social service safety net. Those investments, along with a forward-thinking long-term bond authorization, will keep Massachusetts as a leader in the key economic sectors for decades to come," said Senator Michael J. Rodrigues (D-Westport), Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. "Thanks to the strong leadership of Senate President Spilka, and the commitment of my colleagues in the Senate, we sent a clear message to the people that we will always look to protect our marginalized communities, support our education and health care workforce, and invest in local infrastructure as the Commonwealth continues to recover from the impact of the pandemic."

The bill invests $368.7 million to address several time sensitive needs for an array of programs relied on by some of the most vulnerable residents of the Commonwealth, including $130 million for SNAP food assistance benefits to provide a glide path for families who were receiving enhanced SNAP benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic, $68 million for the Early Education C3 stabilization grant program, $65 million for the continuation of free school meals, $45 million for emergency shelter assistance, and over $40 million to support affordable housing for immigrants and refugees. Other measures funded in the bill include:

  • $8.3 million for judgments, settlements, and legal fees
  • $7 million for coordinated wraparound services for incoming immigrants and refugees
  • $2 million for the reimbursement of SNAP benefits for victims of benefit theft
  • $2 million for the preparation and execution of the 114th National NAACP conference, which is taking place in Massachusetts in 2023, which was adopted via an amendment from Senator Liz Miranda
  • $1 million for a public awareness campaign to educate the public about the misleading tactics of so-called crisis pregnancy centers and their lack of medical services
  • $250,000 for Reproductive Equity Now's free abortion-related legal hotline

The bill also authorizes $814.3 billion in capital expenditures to support economic development projects. Notably, these include $400 million for the MassWorks Infrastructure Program, which provides grants to cities, towns, and other public entities for infrastructure projects, and $200 million for state matching funds to compete for federal grant opportunities, including those funded through the CHIPS and Science Act, which encourage innovation in Massachusetts. Other bonding items authorized by the bill include:

  • $104 million for the Clean Water Trust Fund
  • $34 million for a program to revitalize underutilized properties
  • $30 million for state matching funds to compete for federal broadband expansion grants and improve state broadband infrastructure
  • $15 million for the Massachusetts Manufacturing Innovation Initiative, which supports innovation within the state's manufacturing industry, including by offering technical assistance to manufacturers and attracting talent from outside of the state
  • $14 million for the Massachusetts Manufacturing Accelerate Program
  • $9.3 million for broadband middle mile supports
  • $8 million for the Smart Growth Housing Trust Fund

Reorganizing the societal shifts that have taken place during the pandemic, the bill also addresses several pandemic-era related measures, including:

  • Permanently allowing public corporations and nonprofits to hold meetings by means of remote communication
  • Permanently allowing notaries public to conduct remote online notarization using communication technology
  • Extending the ability of graduates and students in their last semester of nursing education programs to practice nursing in accordance with guidance from the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing
  • Extending the ability of municipalities to allow outdoor dining services
  • Extending the ability of public bodies to allow remote participation by members in public meetings
  • Extending flexibilities given to cities and towns that allow for town meetings to be held in hybrid or fully remote capacities and that ease the threshold for a quorum
  • Extending the ability of nurses employed by assisted living residences to provide skilled nursing care in accordance with valid medical orders, provided the nurse holds a valid license to provide such care

Senator Liz Miranda (D-Boston) and Senator Robyn K. Kennedy (D-Worcester) both gave their inaugural Senate speeches during consideration of the supplemental budget. Senator Miranda spoke on behalf of her amendment for $2 million to support the NAACP's 114th national conference, which will be taking place in Massachusetts in 2023. The amendment was subsequently unanimously adopted. Senator Kennedy highlighted how the supplemental budget's $68 million investment in C3 early education grants will provide crucial stability to the early education sector.

As a previous version of this legislation has passed the House of Representatives, the two branches will now reconcile the differences between the bills.

As near as I can tell, the House version is H.58 ->

and the Senate version (as per this press release) is S.23 ->

Senate Passes $368.7 Million Supplemental Budget
Senate Passes $368.7 Million Supplemental Budget

Thursday, March 2, 2023

Healey-Driscoll Administration filed their Fiscal Year 2024 budget recommendation

The Healey-Driscoll Administration today filed its Fiscal Year 2024 (FY24) budget recommendation, a $55.5 billion blueprint for Massachusetts’ future that makes historic investments in climate action, public education and transportation, and workforce development. It also lays out Governor Healey’s plans for first-time use of Fair Share revenue, including the creation of a new Education and Transportation Fund. This budget is being filed alongside the $750 million Healey-Driscoll tax relief package and Article 87 legislation to create the Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities.  

“Our FY24 budget is what Massachusetts needs to meet this moment and build a strong economy, livable communities and a sustainable future,” said Governor Healey. “Combined with our tax relief proposal, we will set Massachusetts up for success by lowering costs, growing our competitiveness, and delivering on the promise of our people. Additionally, we are taking aggressive action to address our housing crisis by creating the Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities led by a housing secretary who will coordinate across state government and with cities and towns to move us forward on our housing goals.” 

“Massachusetts is made up of 351 cities and towns that each play an important role in helping Massachusetts reach its potential – from educating our kids, to keeping us safe, to investing in places where we build vibrant, healthy, livable communities,” said Lieutenant Governor Driscoll. “That’s why our budget proposes historic investments in local aid, a down payment on the future of our cities and towns, schools, and kids, and fully funds the Student Opportunity Act with the largest ever increase for K-12 schools in Massachusetts’ history.” 

This budget, filed as House 1, puts forward a responsible proposal to utilize $1 billion in new spending from the Fair Share Amendment. Governor Healey is establishing a new Education and Transportation Fund to ensure that the money collected is used exclusively and transparently for education and transportation.  

On education, House 1 fully funds the Student Opportunity Act with historic investments in Chapter 70 school aid and other local aid accounts. It supports state-subsidized early education and care, increasing child care slots and putting the state on a path toward universal Pre-K, starting in Gateway Cities. It also expands access for high school students to quality early college and career pathways, creates the new MassReconnect program to make community college free for students aged 25 and older, and locks in a four-year tuition freeze across the UMass system. 

On transportation, House 1 includes start-up funding for a means-tested program for thousands of low-income MBTA riders, and to spur progress on key projects like West-East Rail, the Red-Blue Connector, and the electrification of the state’s bus fleet. The administration will also recommend funding for new hiring and training supports for the MBTA in an upcoming supplemental budget to help meet their goal of hiring 1,000 additional workers this year. This budget also dedicates funding within various departments in the Executive Branch to maximize the state’s ability to compete for federal grant dollars with matching funds for infrastructure and other projects. 

The budget follows through on Governor Healey’s commitment to dedicate 1 percent of the state’s overall operating budget to the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. The administration will be tripling the budget of the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center to empower local entrepreneurs, decarbonize buildings and make our state the global capital of the clean energy economy.  

The administration is also filing Article 87 legislation to create a new Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities, headed by a Cabinet level Secretary, that will be charged with dramatically expanding the work now done by the Department of Housing and Community Development. The Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development will be renamed the Executive Office of Economic Development. 

Alongside this balanced budget proposal, the Healey-Driscoll Administration will be filing a comprehensive tax package fully paid for in the FY24 budget at a cost of $742 million on the budget to address the challenges of affordability, equity and competitiveness confronting our families, employers and those who might be considering leaving Massachusetts.  

“We approached this budget with the goal of building a responsible and sustainable spending plan for the Commonwealth that invests thoughtfully in its people, its economy and its future, We’re proud to be able recommend historic investments in areas like higher education and climate, while also delivering on tax relief for families and developing a transparent plan to use new Fair Share revenue to improve our education and transportation systems as voters intended,” said Secretary for Administration and Finance Matthew J. Gorzkowicz. 

House 1 Overview 

House 1 proposes $55.5 billion in gross spending, which represents 4.1 percent spending growth over fiscal year 2023 made possible by the $40.41 billion consensus tax revenue growth estimate of 1.6 percent, as well as $1 billion from Fair Share and other sources of revenue. 

This budget does not utilize any funding from the Stabilization Fund, which has grown to a record high $6.938 billion and is projected to finish fiscal year 2024 at $8.962 billion. The recommendation assumes $1.946 billion in capital gains tax revenue, of which $466 million will be transferred to the Stabilization Fund and other long term liability funds for pension and retiree health insurance costs.  

The budget recommendation maintains the state’s commitment to fully fund its pension liability by 2036 with $4.105 billion in fiscal year 2024, a $361 million increase over the fiscal year 2023 contributions. Projected sales tax revenues will enable a $1.463 billion transfer to support the operations of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), an increase of $138 million over the fiscal year 2023 budgeted contribution, and $1.3 billion will be transferred to the Massachusetts School Building Authority to support school construction across the Commonwealth.  

Fair Share 

The voters of Massachusetts in November 2022 approved a new 4 percent surtax on income above $1 million. They did so with the understanding that the new revenue generated from the tax on higher-income earners would be used to promote high-quality education, repair and maintain roads and bridges and improve our public transit system. 

This budget proposes to keep that commitment by establishing a new Education and Transportation Fund that would receive all surtax revenues and ensure that the money collected is restricted for the use of education and transportation in the most transparent way possible. House 1 also recommends a mechanism to ensure that while all funds remain dedicated to those purposes, they are used in a manner that is sustainable and protected against future downturns and fluctuations in the revenue stream. 

The proposal recommends the establishment of a required minimum fund balance that would be used only in the event of significant revenue decline to preserve base programs funded from Fair Share tax revenue. This balance would grow annually to account for inflation. 

To ensure predictability, a cap would be established on recurring spending with revenue collected above the cap used to support one-time investments in pilot programs, start-up grants, studies, one-time capital investments such as bridges, railroad right-of-way improvements, and other non-recurring projects. 

Continue reading the press release online -> 

The Governor’s filing letter, budget message and specific account information are available here ->

The Governor’s filing letter, budget message and specific account information

The Governor’s filing letter, budget message and specific account information

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Senate President Karen Spilka Statement on Tax Relief

Statement from Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland):

"Having consistently stated my support for permanent progressive tax relief, I am excited to see Governor Healey's proposal to provide much-needed financial relief to Massachusetts residents. While the Senate will need time to dive into the details, I am particularly pleased to see support for families, parents with childcare needs, seniors, and persons with disabilities reflected in this proposal. With affordability a top concern on everyone's minds, I look forward to continuing this conversation with my Senate colleagues and partners in the Administration and the House so that we can move forward with tax relief soon this session."


Governor Healey and Lieutenant Governor Driscoll Unveil $750 Million Tax Relief Package

Governor Maura T. Healey and Lieutenant Governor Kimberley Driscoll today unveiled a $742 million tax relief package that provides significant savings for families, renters, seniors, farmers, commuters and more. The proposal, announced at the Demakes Family YMCA in Lynn, also includes key reforms to the tax code that will bring Massachusetts in line with other states, making it a more attractive place to live, work and do business.

“Everywhere we go, the Lieutenant Governor and I hear from people who are struggling to get by as the cost of living continues to skyrocket past them – the family watching their grocery bill grow each week, the young mom who wants to return to her dream job but can’t afford child care, the recent college graduate who can’t afford both his rent and student loan payments, the seniors who want to keep the home where they raised their family,” said Governor Healey. “We’re filing this tax relief package for each of them. This proposal centers affordability, competitiveness and equity each step of the way, delivering relief to those who need it most and making reforms that will attract and retain more businesses and residents to our great state.” 

“Massachusetts is a national leader in so many ways – in education, business, science and technology, democracy and civil rights. But we’re not leading when it comes to affordability,” said Lieutenant Governor Driscoll. “If people can’t afford to live and work here, we’re not going to be able to maintain our economic edge. Our tax relief package will put more money back in the pockets of those who need it most while also making key reforms in areas where we are an outlier among other states.” 

“The Healey-Driscoll Administration has made a values-driven decision to utilize the resources at our disposal to deliver economic relief to those who are struggling to make ends meet in the face of rising costs,” said Administration and Finance Secretary Matthew J. Gorzkowicz. “The Healey-Driscoll Tax Relief Package is both progressive and fiscally responsible, directly addressing many of the most urgent needs of our residents and setting the state up for economic growth.”  

This package of tax reforms for Fiscal Year 2024 (FY24) will be filed on Wednesday as companion legislation to the administration’s FY24 budget (H.1). The proposal is built around relief that will go directly to families, seniors and those dealing with the high costs of housing. 

That includes Healey’s Child and Family Tax Credit, a new benefit that will provide families with a $600 credit per dependent, including children under 13, people with disabilities, and senior dependents aged 65 and older. It combines two different benefits, the Household Dependent Tax Credit and the Dependent Care Tax Credit, removes the cap on dependents, and increases the benefit. At a cost to the state of $458 million, this would put money directly back into the pockets of 700,000 taxpayers in connection with more than 1 million dependents, helping families keep up with rising costs for child and senior care and bringing people back into the workforce to meet employer demand. 

This package also proposes to increase the rental deduction, currently capped at 50 percent of rent up to $3,000, to $4,000. At a cost of $40 million, this increase will help offset the high cost of housing for 880,000 renters. Additionally, the administration is proposing to double the senior circuit breaker credit from $1,200 to $2,400 for low-income seniors with high property taxes or rent, helping seniors in 100,000 households stay in their homes. 

To drive Massachusetts’ economic competitiveness, the package proposes reforms to two taxes in which the state is currently an outlier. It would reduce the short-term capital gains tax from  

12 percent to 5 percent. Wisconsin and South Carolina are currently the only two other states that tax short-term capital gains at a higher rate than long-term capital gains, as Massachusetts currently does. This reform would have a gross revenue impact of $117 million in FY24, but would be budget-neutral due to excess capital gains not being used to support FY24 spending. 

It would also eliminate the estate tax for all estates valued at up to $3 million with a credit of up to $182,000. Massachusetts is one of only 12 states that has an estate tax and shares the lowest threshold of those twelve with Oregon. This reform would reduce the tax burden on smaller estates, which historically have filed over 70 percent of estate tax returns, and helps seniors and families age in place and be able to stay in Massachusetts. 

Other components of this tax package include: 

  • Housing Development Incentive Program (HDIP) - Increase the $10 million annual cap on HDIP credits to $50 million in the first year, and $30 million per year moving forward for developers as an incentive to produce more market-rate housing in the state’s Gateway Cities.  
  • Apprenticeships Tax Credit – Improve access to apprenticeships for workers by expanding the list of occupations that qualify for employer tax credits and doubling the statewide cap on credits to $5 million.  
  • Dairy Tax Credit – Increase the statewide cap from $6 million to $8 million to protect the state’s dairy farmers from fluctuations in wholesale milk prices.  
  • Live Theater – Promote local live theater productions with a new credit for a share of payroll, production and transportation costs for qualifying productions.  
  • Title V – Double the maximum credit to $12,000 (40 percent of $30,000) for expenses incurred at a primary residence for repair or replacement of failed cesspool or septic systems.  
  • Lead Paint Abatement – Double the allowable deductions to $3,000 for full lead paint abatement and $1,000 for partial abatement. 
  • Local Cider – Promote more locally produced hard cider and still wine by allowing higher-alcohol content ciders and wines (up to 8.5 ABV) to qualify for lower tax rates typically reserved for low-alcohol content products. 
  • Student Loan Repayment – Exempt employer assistance with student loan repayment from income taxation for student borrowers. 
  • Commuter Transit Benefits – Add regional transit passes and bike commuter expenses, such as bike-share memberships, purchases and storage, to those that qualify for tax deductions, alongside existing expenses like tolls and MBTA passes.  
  • Brownfields - Extend the brownfields tax credit program, currently set to expire in 2023, through 2028. This program allows taxpayers to claim a credit for costs related to cleanup of contaminated properties. 

Statements of Support: 

“Healthy, affordable homes are vital to a bright future for the Commonwealth. Hand in hand with housing production, providing immediate relief for renters and senior homeowners with low incomes, cleaning up Brownfields sites for new homes, making lead remediation more affordable, and helping people commute by regional transit and bike will support health, housing affordability, and vibrant neighborhoods.” -Rachel Heller, CEO, CHAPA 

“MCOA applauds the Healey-Driscoll Administration on their proposed tax package. The increase in the Senior Circuit Tax Breaker will help 100,000 more older households remain in their communities. Each tax season, COAs assist older adults in accessing this tax credit and the increase will support the economic security of older people across the Commonwealth.” - Betsy Connell, Executive Director, Massachusetts Councils on Aging (MCOA) 

“We are extremely grateful to Governor Maura Healey, Lt Governor Kim Driscoll and their teams for the proposal made today to increase the dairy tax credit from $6 million to $8 million dollars. The Administration today demonstrates their deep understanding of the dairy industry’s long history and its importance to the Massachusetts economy. The tax credit has been a key factor in stabilizing and saving the industry the last 15 years, and this proposed increase will greatly help offset the forecasted difficult times ahead in dairy costs of production and pricing.” - David Shepard, President, Massachusetts Dairy Farmer’s Association 

“Associated Industries of Massachusetts is pleased that the first budget of the Healey-Driscoll administration addresses threats to the Commonwealth’s competitive edge. At a time when the cost of living in Massachusetts exceeds most other states, this package wisely identifies ways to help residents cut costs, reducing the financial burden on working families, while at the same time implementing tax changes that prevent Massachusetts from being an outlier. Based on this budget, it is clear that the Administration shares AIM’s concerns about the Commonwealth’s competitive future and this is a critical first step towards ensuring sustained growth and economic strength.” - Brooke Thomson, Executive Vice President of Government Affairs, Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) 

"Massachusetts is among the most expensive states to live and do business, and people are leaving at alarming rates. For an economy that has historically been built on access to the best talent in the world, this is a threat to the state’s long-term competitiveness. Tax relief is an important piece of the strategy to recruit, retain, develop, and diversify our talent pool and pipeline and the Roundtable is grateful to Governor Healey and Lt. Governor Driscoll for proposing a thoughtful and comprehensive set of tax proposals and investments to kick off this legislative session’s competitiveness policy discussion. The Roundtable looks forward to working with the Administration and Legislature to pass policy proposals targeted toward the people and employers that make our economy hum and ensuring the long-term economic vitality of the Commonwealth." - JD Chesloff, President and CEO, Massachusetts Business Roundtable 

“Throughout the campaign, the Governor spoke about the need to make early education more affordable for Massachusetts’ families.  Today’s expansion of the Child and Family tax credit is an important step in that direction as it offers parents a straightforward and easy-to-understand approach that prioritizes their bottom line.” -William J. Eddy, Executive Director, Massachusetts Association of Early Education & Care 

"Expanding the Housing Development Incentive Program could help build more than 12,000 new multi family homes worth $4 billion over the next ten years in Gateway Cities. This could create vibrant, walkable downtowns all around the state and foster a more equitable pattern of regional investment." - Joe Kriesberg, CEO, MassInc

The tax package details can be found ->

This press release can be found ->

CommonWealth Magazine coverage ->

Boston Globe coverage ->

Maura Healey (Photo by Michael Jonas)
Maura Healey (Photo by Michael Jonas)

Friday, February 3, 2023

non-MBTA team assigned to examine the production issues in Springfield

"GOV. MAURA HEALEY said on Thursday that she is putting together a team of non-MBTA technical and legal experts to review the troubling situation at the Chinese-owned Springfield assembly plant for new Red and Orange Line trains.

Healey said she learned about the problems in Springfield a couple weeks ago, apparently at roughly the same time the public learned about them in detail from a presentation by acting General Manager Jeffrey Gonneville to the MBTA board of directors.

On Monday, Healey seemed shaky on details of the situation in Springfield. On Thursday, she seemed much more up to speed.

“The project is way behind schedule. Some alarming details have emerged about the quality of the production process,” Healey said."
Continue reading the article online -> 

From left, Transportation Secretary Gina Fiandaca, Gov. Maura Healey, Transportation Undersecretary Monica Tipbits-Nutt, Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll, and acting MBTA General Manager Jeffrey Gonneville. (Photo by Bruce Mohl)
From left, Transportation Secretary Gina Fiandaca, Gov. Maura Healey, Transportation Undersecretary Monica Tipbits-Nutt, Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll, and acting MBTA General Manager Jeffrey Gonneville. (Photo by Bruce Mohl)

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

CommonWealth Magazine Beacon Hill Recap: Healey files for shelter & school lunch programs; MA GOP changes leadership

"Healey seeks funding for shelters, school meals"
"REVIVING DEBATE on an issue that lawmakers left untouched at the end of last session, Gov. Maura Healey on Monday filed a $282 million spending bill she said is necessary to manage a surge in demand for emergency shelter and prevent the free school meals program from running out of money.

Healey called on top House and Senate Democrats to make quick work of her new supplemental budget bill, which would steer $85 million toward an emergency shelter “crisis,” allocate $130 million to keep expanded nutrition assistance in place for a few more months, and appropriate $65 million to ensure a universal school meals program remains afloat through the end of the academic year.

Her bill (H 47) targets the same growing shelter strain, fueled in part by an influx of migrant arrivals to Massachusetts, that prompted Gov. Charlie Baker to unsuccessfully seek $130 million in November."
Continue reading the article in CommonWealth Magazine ->

"Carnevale wins state GOP chair post by 3 votes"
"AMY CARNEVALE of Marblehead won a second-ballot victory Tuesday night to become chair of the Massachusetts Republican arty, edging incumbent Jim Lyons by a margin of 37-34.

Carnevale’s victory gives her control of a party that took a drubbing in November and faces a long road back to both financial and political relevance in Massachusetts. She is hopeful that Republicans who deserted the party under Lyons will now return with financial and political support. She said many have promised to do so."
Continue reading the article in CommonWealth Magazine ->

"House panel votes 2-1 to seat Kassner over Mirra"

"THE TWO DEMOCRATS on a three-member special House committee concluded that the chamber should officially seat Kristin Kassner, a Hamilton Democrat who topped five-term Republican Rep. Lenny Mirra by a single vote in a contested recount.

Reps. Michael Day of Stoneham and Daniel Ryan of Charlestown submitted a majority report to the House clerk’s office recommending Kassner be declared “the properly elected and qualified Representative for the Second Essex District,” a move that would allow her to join the House nearly a month after the two-year term began and would spell the end of Mirra’s decade-long tenure."
Continue reading the article in CommonWealth Magazine ->

The golden dome of the State House. (Photo by Andy Metzger)
The golden dome of the State House. (Photo by Andy Metzger)

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Consensus on the MA revenue forecast remains to be set but 2 hours of hearing updates gets it started

"TOP BUDGET OFFICIALS from the Legislature say they intend to abide by the will of the voters and make sure all revenue from the new millionaire tax goes to “new initiatives” in transportation and education.

Exactly what would qualify as a “new initiative” hasn’t been decided yet (is a new bus or subway car a new initiative?), nor has any decision been made on whether the money would be evenly split between education and transportation.

“That’s all to be discussed,” said Sen. Michael Rodrigues, the chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee."
Continue reading the article

"STATE REVENUES are expected to rise slightly in the coming fiscal year, but top budget officials from the Legislature and Healey administration say it’s still unclear whether there is enough money to enact permanent tax cuts.

At the end of last year’s legislative session, former governor Charles Baker and Senate leaders wanted to press ahead with $500 million in permanent tax cuts in addition to nearly $3 billion in one-time refunds from the state’s tax cap law."
Continue reading the article

"State revenue officials said Tuesday they could collect at least $1.4 billion — and perhaps up to $1.7 billion — next fiscal year from Massachusetts’ newly enshrined tax on its wealthiest earners, kick-starting months of debate over how to steer the new injection of tax money.

The projection, offered Tuesday in a legislative hearing, marked the first official estimate state officials have provided on what they think the so-called “millionaires tax” will contribute to coffers in its first year since taking effect Jan. 1. Narrowly passed by voters on the November ballot, the measure increases the state’s 5 percent income tax rate to 9 percent on annual income exceeding $1 million."
Continue reading the article in the Boston Globe (subscription may be required)

The 2 hour hearing that generated these articles is available for video replay on your schedule

The Big 3 on budget issues: From left, Matthew Gorzkowicz, Gov. Maura Healey's secretary of administration and finance; Sen. Michael Rodrigues, chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee; and Rep. Aaron Michlewitz, chair of the House Ways and Means Committee. (Photo by Bruce Mohl)
The Big 3 on budget issues: From left, Matthew Gorzkowicz, Gov. Maura Healey's secretary of administration and finance; Sen. Michael Rodrigues, chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee; and Rep. Aaron Michlewitz, chair of the House Ways and Means Committee. (Photo by Bruce Mohl)

Saturday, January 21, 2023

MA News round up: wind developers stalling for time, housing position at cabinet level, Harvard Medical Sch incorporates climate into curriculum

"Mass. offshore wind developers stalling for time"

"THE STATE’S TWO leading offshore wind developers appear to be stalling for time as they explore whether the cast of new players on Beacon Hill may be more receptive to letting them back out of or tweak their existing power purchase agreements.

Avangrid, the company behind Commonwealth Wind, filed a lawsuit on Thursday challenging a December 30 decision of the Department of Public Utilities approving the wind farm developer’s power purchase agreements with three Massachusetts utilities even though Avangrid said the pricing is no longer sufficient to obtain financing for the project.

Mayflower Wind, being developed by Shell New Energies and Ocean Winds, filed a request with the DPU seeking a greater say in deliberations over the power contracts and more time to respond."
Continue reading the article online ->
"Governor Healey kicks off effort to establish state housing chief with new executive order"
"Governor Maura Healey, who made housing a central theme of her campaign, announced Friday that she filed an executive order to create a working group to establish the role of a new Cabinet-level housing secretary.

She announced the news in front of local leaders at the Massachusetts Municipal Association’s annual meeting in Boston — the first public step the governor has taken toward her campaign promise of creating the role. Healey committed early in her campaign to elevate the post as a way to increase focus and resources on housing production during a time when housing has become increasingly less affordable.

Traditionally, the job of housing and economic development secretary has been one role in state government. So far Secretary Yvonne Hao has been serving in both capacities in the new Healey administration, though she will ultimately focus on economic development when the new housing post is filled.:

"Harvard Medical School votes to embed climate change in its curriculum"

"Raised by two psychologists, Madeleine Kline had wanted to become a doctor since she was little. And when she learned in high school how human activity was fueling climate change, she concluded “it felt fundamentally like a health problem.
So it seemed the most natural thing for her to go into medicine. And once at Harvard Medical School, she combined her two interests to help produce a novel undertaking at the 350-year-old institution: embed teaching about the effects of climate change into all four years of the medical degree curriculum.

“I realized that the world then,” she said of her youth, “was not the world that I was going to inhabit as an adult or raise my children in. And, if I wanted to help take care of people, I needed to understand the challenges my patients were going to face.”

Now in her third year, Kline was among a small group of students and faculty who helped convince school leaders to adopt the new curriculum, which was approved earlier in January. It will include instruction on the effects of climate change on human health, the role health care systems play in contributing to climate change, and how physicians can work to be part of the solution."
Continue reading the article online (subscription maybe required) -> 

Student Julia Malits (left), Dr. Gaurab Basu (center), and student Madeleine Kline championed the integration of climate change into Harvard Medical School's curriculum. JONATHAN WIGGS/GLOBE STAFF
Student Julia Malits (left), Dr. Gaurab Basu (center), and student Madeleine Kline championed the integration of climate change into Harvard Medical School's curriculum. JONATHAN WIGGS/GLOBE STAFF

Friday, January 20, 2023

Boston Globe: "Governor Healey wants to ‘drive economic development.’ Her first bill puts $1 billion toward that goal"

"Governor Maura Healey announced Thursday that she is filing her first two pieces of legislation, one of which is a $987 million “immediate needs” bond bill targeting housing and economic development.

The wide-ranging, nearly billion-dollar “immediate needs” bond bill would dedicate $400 million for MassWorks, a program created in 2010 that makes grants available to cities and towns for infrastructure projects. Her bill would continue the funding stream for MassWorks and other programs, preventing key programs from running out of money.

Healey, who has highlighted economic development as a top priority for her nascent administration, said she filed the bill “to ensure critical housing and economic development programs across the state can continue to serve people in Massachusetts without interruption.”
Continue reading the article in the Boston Globe (subscription may be required)

Governor Healey's letter to Legislature on the bond bill

Governor Healey's letter to Legislature on the Chap 90 bill

(both links via Franklin Observer

Saturday, January 7, 2023

"There's unparalleled opportunity in our response to the climate crisis"

"Emerging from her initial Cabinet meeting as governor, Maura Healey on Friday issued an executive order cementing a Cabinet-level climate chief in her administration and reappointed her predecessor’s public safety secretary, marking some of her first acts in office.

The executive action, officially order No. 604, makes official a campaign promise to create the first-of-its-kind position within Healey’s inner circle in a bid to create a “whole-of-government response” to climate change in Massachusetts."

CommonWealth Magazine coverage of the executive order ->

"Today, I filed an executive order creating the country's first Cabinet-level climate chief."
"Today, I filed an executive order creating the country's first Cabinet-level climate chief."

More about Climate and the Governor's agenda ->