Happening Today

COVID-19 cultural impact, Portugal prime minister, and more

9 a.m. | Auditor Bump visits the Old Colony YMCA for a tour of its summer camp facilities and a discussion of its spending of federal COVID-19 relief funds.

10 a.m. | COVID-19 Cultural Impact Commission meets virtually to provide organizations in the arts and culture sector an opportunity to provide input prior to the publication of a final report.

11 a.m. | Portugal Prime Minister Antonio Luis Santos da Costa offers keynote remarks at the Massachusetts Portuguese American Legislative Caucus’ 37th annual heritage day of Portugal celebration, with Sen. Marc Pacheco presiding over events.

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11 a.m. | Special Legislative Early Education and Care Economic Review Commission holds its third public meeting virtually to receive live testimony by invitation only.

For the most comprehensive list of calendar items, check out State House News Service’s Daily Advances (pay wall – free trial subscriptions available).

Today’s Stories

The millionaire’s tax: A key issue in guv’s race

It’s a topic that has been lingering on Beacon Hill for quite a while. It’s a debate that draws impassioned arguments from both sides of the aisle. And it’s a question that voters will consider on the 2022 ballot, the same one where they’ll pick the next governor of Massachusetts.

The so-called “Fair Share Amendment,” aka the ‘millionaire’s tax’ that would slap a 4 percent surtax on incomes above $1 million, is quickly becoming a central talking point among the three Democratic gubernatorial candidates. Supporters say the proposal will generate up to $2 billion in new revenues for education and transportation while opponents see it as a perilous option that will lead to a graduated income tax structure and push high-earning individuals out of the state.

The issue also highlights how some of the contenders in the governor’s race are running on similar messages, begging the question of how they’ll differentiate from each other when the race truly heats up. Two of the three declared candidates in the race so far have voted in favor of the Constitutional amendment, while a spokesperson for the other confirmed her support.

Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz, who announced her candidacy this week, voted in favor of the surtax during a joint meeting of the House and Senate in early June. Likewise, former Sen. Ben Downing supported the proposal with his vote in 2016, and has attended several rallies in the past week in support.

“If my mom can spend a lifetime helping kids escape poverty, surely, Massachusetts can pass a millionaire’s tax to help more children get a better start in life,” Chang-Díaz said in her announcement video.

In a statement to MassterList, Downing’s Deputy Campaign Manager Christina Gregg said the former senator “believes it is long past time for comprehensive tax reform that requires more from those who have benefited most from our collective economic growth and makes good on the promise of equity and access for all 351 cities and towns.”

A spokesperson for Harvard University professor Danielle Allen told MassterList that she “believes that the revenue generated from the Fair Share Amendment will be greatly beneficial to our commonwealth as we will use it to support investments in the diversification of our economy and pathways of economic opportunity for all our communities.”

The proposal has drawn a sweeping backlash from legislative Republicans. At the executive level, Gov. Charlie Baker, speaking a day after the current Legislature advanced the amendment to the 2022 ballot, said the state should not raise taxes following the pandemic.

“I said before that I don’t think we should be raising taxes,” Baker said. “We have, between state and local government, we have $10 billion already in federal funds that we need to find a way to put to work. And I really think our focus ought to be on that.”

Federal funds feud: Act IV

The Legislature resoundingly rejected Gov. Charlie Baker’s proposal to spend about half of the more than $5 billion in federal aid dollars Massachusetts received from the American Rescue Plan Act immediately and let lawmakers work out how to allocate the rest later, reports the News Service’s Katie Lannan.

The House said no to the plan earlier this week and the Senate did so on Thursday in a party-line vote. The spending bill now proposes to leave the governor with $200 million to allocate. 

SHNS

Is it a ‘gimmick’?

That’s what some Beacon Hill Democrats are calling Gov. Charlie Baker’s proposed two-month long sales tax holiday while Republicans are defending the idea as novel, reports MassLive’s Steph Solis

More from Solis: “Massachusetts has the money. The Department of Revenue received $32.5 billion in sales and commercial tax revenue during fiscal 2021 — $3.36 billion more than the state expected to get.” Critics, however, say surplus tax revenue should head to education, the MBTA, and other areas left underfunded during the pandemic.

Senate President Karen Spilka told SHNS’s Sam Doran and Matt Murphy that one weekend of suspending sales tax collection “is sufficient for now.” More from SHNS here

MassLive

At least we know he isn’t seeking federal office

That’s one question we can all check off the Gov. Charlie Baker ‘what-ifs’ list. Appearing on GBH’s “Boston Public Radio,” Baker said he has “zero interest” in running for federal office, reports Boston Globe’s Martin Finucane. Meanwhile, Baker wouldn’t say whether or not he would seek a third term as Governor of Massachusetts. 

Maybe one of these days we’ll actually find out Baker’s post-pandemic/new normal plans. When exactly that’ll be? “When we make a decision,” Baker said on the radio show.

Shots required at three hospital systems

And we’re not talking the liqour kind of shots. Three major hospital systems in Massachusetts are going to require employees to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, reports the Associated Press’ Boston Bureau.

More from the AP: “Leadership at Mass General Brigham, Beth Israel Lahey Health and Wellforce said requiring vaccinations for employees is critical to halt the spread of the coronavirus and save lives.”

Associated Press

Steering clear: Baker unlikely to endorse in Boston mayoral race

He’s going to stay in his lane. Gov. Charlie Baker deflected a question about whether he’d endorse one of the candidates — all Democrats — seeking to become Boston’s next mayor, telling Gintautas Dumcius of the Dorchester Reporter that he works well with local leaders of all political stripes and suggesting he’ll stay out of the race to lead the Democratic stronghold that Baker nearly claimed in the 2018 election.

Dorchester Reporter

House set to face diversity issue in leadership

House Majority Leader Claire Cronin’s departure to serve as ambassador to Ireland would make that branches’ leadership a bit less diverse if House Speaker Ronald Mariano sticks to his current list of lieutenants, writes GBH’s Mike Deehan.

GBH

Maybe they just wanted a good view …

MassLive’s Douglas Hook reports that state police are looking for three men who allegedly broke into a Government Center highrise and climbed up 22 floors to the roof.

MassLive

‘No contest’ and open seats in Northampton

Daily Hampshire Gazette’s Brian Steel reports that only six candidates have pulled nomination papers to run for the nine seats on the Northampton School Committe. The election is set for November.

Daily Hampshire Gazette

Worcester defense lawyers acquitted

A judge found a pair of Worcester defense lawyers not guilty in a case that involved making a central witness unavailable to testify in a human trafficking trial, writes Brad Petrishen of the Telegram & Gazette.

Telegram & Gazette

Staying power: After heated debate, Shrewsbury will stick with Colonials nickname

He’s staying put — but getting a makeover. After eight months of study, a divided Shrewsbury school board has voted to retain the high school’s Colonials nickname — but will update “the presentation” of the mascot to put it in better historical context, Craig Semon and Dave Nordman of the Telegram report.

Telegram & Gazette

Most local: Quincy councilors slam legislature over voting lines takeover

The Quincy City Council has taken a formal stance against a move by state lawmakers to forge ahead with Census-driven redistricting before local communities adjust their own voting precincts, Mary Whitfill of the Patriot Ledger reports. One councilor summed up the argument by saying “government is always best at the lowest, most local level.”

Patriot Ledger

Hurry up: Amherst’s ranked-choice switch hung up on legislative delay

There’s still time to act. That’s the message from elected officials in Amherst to the state legislature about a home-rule petition that would allow the community to use ranked-choice voting in the next local election this fall, Scott Merzbach of the Daily Hampshire Gazette reports. Amherst embraced ranked-choice in a 2018 charter update and had hoped to see the system make its debut in 2021.

Daily Hampshire Gazette

Sunday public affairs TV: Bill Galvin, Sunny Hostin and more

Keller at Large, WBZ-TV Channel 4, 8:30 a.m. This week’s guests: State House News Service’s Katie Lannan and Matt Murphy, who talk with host Jon Keller about Gov. Charlie Baker’s proposed two-month sales tax holiday, the battle over spending control of federal stimulus funds, and the race for governor.

This Week in Business, NECN, 10 a.m. Mass. League of Community Health Centers president discusses the next phase of vaccinating the public and the Boston Globe’s Shirley Leung discusses the top local business stories of the week, including Gov. Charlie Baker’s proposed two-month sales tax holiday.

On The Record, WCVB-TV Channel 5, 11 a.m. This week’s guest is Secretary of State Bill Galvin, who talks with hosts Ed Harding and Janet Wu, followed by a political discussion with analysts Mary Anne Marsh and Rob Gray.

CityLine, WCVB-TV Channel 5, 12 p.m. With host Karen Holmes Ward, this week’s topic: A conversation with Sunny Hostin, co-host of ABC’s ‘The View.’

Today’s Headlines

Metro

Benjamin Franklin Institute files plans for new Roxbury building – Universal Hub

Neighbors, Quincy councilors concerned about proposed bridge over Blacks Creek – Patriot Ledger

Massachusetts

Massachusetts Gaming Commission OK’s MGM Springfield sale to real-estate spinoff – MassLive

Salem council meets in person; votes to remain remote – Salem News

JPMorgan Buys Stake in Robert Kraft’s Sports-Data Company – Wall Street Journal

Nation

Pelosi announces a select committee will investigate Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob – Washington Post

Haley praises Trump in Iowa speech laced with 2024 intrigue – Politico

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