Wells Fargo investment, DeLeo on jobs, Moulton on tech partnerships
House and Senate meet in informal sessions, 11 a.m. … Senate President Stanley Rosenberg attends a Senate Presidents Forum, Newport, Rhode Island. … Boston Mayor Martin Walsh announces an $800,000 Wells Fargo investment to support diverse small businesses in Dorchester, Roxbury and East Boston, 2300 Washington St., Boston, 11:30 a.m. … House Speaker Robert DeLeo delivers brief remarks at an event celebrating job creation in the area, 101 Main St., Suite 900, Cambridge, 1 p.m. … U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas tours Little Leaf Farms in Devens, which specializes in local lettuces and salad greens, 191 Sherman Ave., Devens, 2:30 p.m. … U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton announces legislation that would create public-private partnerships in the technology sector, EBSCO, 10 Estes St., Ipswich, 3:45 p.m.
The Duck Tape Budget
As expected, the House and Senate approved a new $40.2 billion state budget last Friday that’s balanced by some tough budget cuts, questionable revenue assumptions, a new employer assessment tax to pay for health-care and healthy amounts of Duck Tape and baling wire. But it’s actually sturdier than it looks, according to a Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation analysis of the budget. As for the highlights of the budget, here goes:
— It includes the new $200 million “assessment” fee (read: tax) on employers to help pay for health-care, but it doesn’t include any of Gov. Baker’s proposed Medicaid spending reforms, reports Priyanka Dayal McCluskey at the Globe. Lawmakers says they simply didn’t have time to review the Medicaid proposals and hope to revisit them soon.
— The budget doesn’t include a new tax on short-term rental companies like Airbnb. For that matter, it includes no major tax increases, outside the health-care employer assessment, reports Matt Stout at the Herald.
— Surprisingly, the budget doesn’t include draining the state’s $13 million Horse Racing Development Fund, Stout also reports.
— Lawmakers were forced to mark down available revenues by $733 million, forcing deeper budget cuts and prompting calls from some quarters for new taxes, reports SHNS’s Michael Norton at Patch.com.
— Senate President Stan Rosenberg is calling the fiscal blueprint “the harshest state budget since the last recession,” Norton also reports.
— Private court-appointed lawyers for the poor are going to have to suck it up again this year, reports the Globe.
Businesses groups aren’t happy with Lucy-pulling-the-football stunt
After the new state budget was released on Friday, business groups noticed something was missing: Reforms to rein in state Medicaid spending. You know, the Baker administration reforms they agreed to in exchange for accepting the $200 million employer “assessment” to help pay for Medicaid? Seven business groups have issued a joint statement bemoaning the lack of Medicaid reforms in the budget. Martha Bebinger at WBUR says business groups want Gov. Baker to send the budget back to lawmakers with amendments.
Did Peter Pan get its wish of no high-speed rail study?
State Sen. Eric Lesser of Longmeadow is sorely disappointed that the final state budget didn’t include funds to study high-speed rail between Boston and Springfield, ominously warning in a statement of “entrenched interests” at work on Beacon Hill. Matt Szafranski at Western Massachusetts Politics & Insight points the finger at Peter Pan Bus Lines, whose owner he says is against high-speed rail in western Massachusetts.
Next up: Marijuana bill
Now that the budget is out of the way (for the time being), it’s back to work on crafting a compromise marijuana regulations bill on Beacon Hill. WGBH’s Mike Deehan has a good round-up of all the issues at play. CommonWealth’s Bruce Mohl and Jack Sullivan report how Rep. Brian Dempsey, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, is standing by his chamber’s position that pot should be taxed at 28 percent, not the Senate’s preferred 12 percent. The Boston Globe confirms that more than 100 towns and cities have now cracked down on marijuana sales in one way or another, even before the State House has reached a decision on the regulatory structure for marijuana. SHNS’s Colin Young at Wicked Local has more.
Last-ditch effort: Tufts Medical, nurses meet tomorrow to try to avert strike
After contract talks went nowhere on Friday, negotiators for Tufts Medical Center and its nurses union will meet tomorrow in a final attempt to avoid a planned one-day strike on Wednesday – a strike that would trigger a multi-day lockout by Tufts, reports Jessica Bartlett at the BBJ.
Is another Partners merger headed for the morgue?
Partners HealthCare must be poised to set some sort of record if its latest merger proposal with Mass. Eye and Ear is rejected, in addition to previously scotched deals with Hallmark Health and South Shore Hospital. The BBJ’s Jessica Bartlett has the details on the state Health Policy Commission’s decision to hit the pause button on the Partners-Eye and Ear deal.
Vacant Cariddi seat draws another hopeful
Then there were two. Lisa Blackmer, treasurer and tax collector for the town of Buckland and a five-term North Adams city councilor, said over the weekend she will compete for the Democratic nomination to fill the seat vacated by the death of Gailanne Cariddi in June. Blackmer joins Stephanie Bosley, whose father held the 1st Berkshire seat for 24 years, in the special election race.
Pilgrim wants cybersecurity pass
Talk about awkward timing: As reports emerge that Russia-backed hackers have penetrated the business networks of nuclear plant operators, the owners of Pilgrim Station are seeking waivers from federal cybersecurity rules while that nuke plant winds down operations, Christine Legere of the Cape Cod Times reports.
Warren mocks GOP’s ‘Day One’ vow on health care, warns of zombies
U. S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren was on a roll this weekend, telling a crowd of more 800 in the Berkshires not to give up the fight against Donald Trump and Republican attempts to repeal ObamaCare, even though she mocked the administration’s failed vow to gut the Affordable Care Act on “day one,” reports Eoin Higgins at the Berkshire Eagle. Meanwhile, Warren is warning that GOP repeal bills keeping coming “back to life more often than the lead zombie in a horror movie,” reports Victoria McGrane at the Globe.
Analyzing Elizabeth Warren’s job-posting tea leaves …
Speaking of Elizabeth Warren: Are her recent job postings – for a deputy digital director, digital communications assistant and digital production assistant — a sign she’s A.) Gearing up for re-election in 2018 B.) Gearing up for a 2020 run for president or C.) Gearing up for both? The Herald’s Jack Encarnacao has details on her “grassroots” campaign that includes allowing people to work from Washington, D.C.
‘The Shock Candidate’
Boston Magazine’s Kyle Scott Clauss takes a look at how Shiva Ayyadurai, who’s running against U.S. Elizabeth Warren, has evolved from a Fulbright scholar who earned four degrees from MIT, studied with Noam Chomsky and once protested against institutional racism into “the favored candidate of the ascendant conservative fringe.”
The lowest of the low: Scammers prey on addicts desperate for treatment
There must be, or should be, a special place in hell for those scamming opioid addicts via a “sprawling national network of insurance fraud,” according to a joint investigative report from the Globe and its STAT unit. Read it. The brazenness and shear scope of the scams is mindboggling.
Baker hauls in dough from corporate and out-of-state bigwigs
From the Herald’s Matt Stout: “Charlie Baker has been rapidly expanding his base of well-heeled donors, collecting a quarter-million dollars this year from corporate CEOs, out-of-state executives and hundreds of other new donors, none of whom backed him financially during his last gubernatorial run.”
Environmental group slams Baker’s ‘unholy alliance’ with utilities
Environmental groups are demanding that the Baker administration accelerate the state’s push toward a clean-energy future, while the Environmental League of Massachusetts is blasting the administration’s ‘unholy alliance’ with utility companies on offshore wind-farm construction, reports the Globe’s Frank Phillips.
Setti crashes (on his bike – not his campaign)
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Setti Warren crashed on his bicycle after hitting a pothole in Stow while training for the 60-mile Pan-Mass Challenge, reports Jeremey Fox at the Globe. Warren was treated for minor injuries at Emerson Hospital in Concord and was released, with his spokesman saying Warren intends to resume training as soon as possible.
Tito hits mayor on city shootings
If you haven’t already, check out Adrian Walker’s Globe column about a woman who, to her utter astonishment, actually witnessed a murder while sitting outside a Dudley Café. Mayoral candidate Tito Jackson is ripping into Marty Walsh’s “abdication of leadership” over the spike in gunfire casualties in the city, reports the Herald’s Dan Atkinson. But Joyce Ferriabough Bolling writes at the Herald that now is not the time to turn gang violence into a political issue.
UMass Boston exploring ways to save day-care center (and reputation)
UMass Boston interim chancellor Barry Mills, stung by criticism that the financially strapped school was closing a day-care center rather than hacking fat-cat jobs from the payroll, is now exploring ways to save the center, reports Laura Krantz at the Globe. The Globe’s Shirley Leung says Mills has definitely flubbed his first big budget test.
Bet, Millennials, bet!
Emily Kumler of Boston Magazine lays out what may be the best, if not most unnerving, argument in favor of allowing the Massachusetts Lottery to launch online games: Unless millennials start embracing the lottery, the state’s budget is going to suffer.
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