Keller at Large
Keller: Charlie Baker’s Alternative Path
On this week’s Keller at Large, Jon Keller analyzes what Gov. Charlie Baker can do ahead of the 2022 GOP primary. Keller’s take: “Turn the 2022 GOP primary into a laser-focused referendum on Trump and Trumpism. Against a likely backdrop of the January 6 investigation’s findings, the continued hijacking of the economy by vaccine refusers and Trump’s insane ejaculations, he can run as a white Republican version of the Tank Man of Tiananmen Square who stood his ground in the face of the Chinese Communist onslaught.”
9 a.m. | Here’s your last chance to sign up for MASSterList and the State House News Service’s virtual panel discussion on the state of sports betting in Massachusetts featuring a conversation with Sen. Eric Lesser and Rep. Jerry Parisella, two of the lawmakers at the center of the conversation on Beacon Hill. Register here.
9 a.m. | Massachusetts Association of Health Plans holds a policy forum on emergency department boarding, the practice where patients remain in the emergency room until a psychiatric bed is available.
10:30 a.m. | State Administration and Regulatory Oversight Committee holds a hearing on about two dozen bills, most of them related to public records or the open meeting law.
11 a.m. | Future of Work Commission dives into wraparound services such as transportation, broadband and child care at its fifth public meeting, hosted in Chicopee.
3 p.m. | House lawmakers have until 3 p.m. to file amendments to the branch’s $3.65 billion plan to spend a large portion of the state’s American Rescue Plan Act allocation and its fiscal year 2021 budget surplus.
3:30 p.m. | The Attorney General’s Office hosts a virtual conversation on addressing hate in our communities for municipal, school, and community leaders across Massachusetts. Attorney General Maura Healey offers remarks.
A $3.65 billion answer
How do you spend billions from a tax surplus and the state’s share of the American Rescue Plan Act? House Democrats took a shot at answering that question Monday when they unveiled a $3.65 billion plan focused on housing, hospitals, essential workers, and the unemployment system..
The House is proposing to spend $2.5 billion of the state’s $4.8 billion in remaining ARPA funds and $1.15 billion in surplus tax revenue. That leaves roughly $2.4 billion ARPA dollars and around $350 million in surplus leftover for future use, reports State House News Service’s Matt Murphy and Chris Lisinski.
Boston Herald’s Erin Teirnan reports that House leaders want to use $500 million to ease the effect of unemployment insurance tax increases on business owners. It’s move that some business advocates like NFIB Massachusetts’ Christopher Carlozzi criticized as “nowhere near enough,” and it’s half as much as Gov. Charlie Baker has sought.
Here’s more of a spending breakdown from Boston Globe’s Matt Stout: “Roughly $600 million would go toward housing programs; another $500 million would be used to help buttress the state’s in-debt unemployment insurance trust fund; ‘financially strained’ hospitals would get $250 million; and $150 million would help those who need training or more education to rejoin the workforce, among other proposals.”
But remember, the odds that changes are in store for this bill are relatively decent as the House and Senate must agree to a plan before sending it to Baker, who also gets a say in where the bill directs money.
And if you remember from yesterday’s edition, the two branches are working on a self-imposed deadline: the Nov. 17 start of the mid-session recess.
That date is quickly approaching.. So it remains to be seen whether the House and Senate can cram through a massive spending proposal in the next four weeks and then deal with any potential revisions or vetoes from the governor.
But the House took the first step Monday when they unveiled the proposal and are planning to take the next step Thursday when lawmakers are expected to take up the legislation. Representatives have until 3 p.m. today to file amendments to the bill.
Boston mayoral candidates take to debate stage one final time
Boston mayoral hopefuls Annissa Essaibi George and Michelle Wu took to the debate stage one final time before the election and went after each other over city development and the opioid crisis. Boston Globe’s Danny McDonald and Stephanie Ebbert report that Wu played the role of “optimistic visionary” and Essaibi George the “pragmatic doer.”
Boston officials start clearing tents at Mass and Cass
Officials from the Boston Public Health Commission made their way into the Massachusetts Avenue and Melnea Cass Boulevard area Monday and started clearing out some tents.
Boston Herald’s Matt Stone and Meghan Ottolini report that officials were handing out storage bins for people to place their personal belongings in after notices were posted Sunday that the city would start a “a general cleanup of this public space” starting 7 a.m. yesterday morning.
Boston Globe’s Tonya Alanez and Danny McDonald report that officials went tent to tent offering rehab and shelter services. The development, the Globe duo report, comes after Boston officials declared a the situation a public health crisis.
Wealth tax win? Democrats embrace Warren’s plan to target billionaires
The idea has persisted. Annie Linksy of the Washington Post reports Congressional Democrats are coalescing around a plan to pay for their long-term spending plan with taxes on the nation’s billionaires –an idea that made up the central plank of U.S. Sen Elizabeth Warren’s unsuccessful 2020 presidential bid.
‘Never looked back’
As Boston prepares to elect its first mayor of color, GBH News’ Phillip Martin spoke to five former city residents who moved to Atlanta in part because of Boston’s racial climate. One of the main questions: Now that Boston is on the verge of making history, would they consider coming back?
More from Martin: “With Boston about to elect its first mayor of color, the Black former Bostonians were asked if that historic development has changed their minds about the city they left behind. Not much or at all, they replied. Their searing experiences with racism in Boston have left a lasting mark.”
Lonely at the top: As town hall empties out, Clarksburg Select Board down to single member
Last one out, hit the lights. The Clarksburg Select Board is down to a single member following yet another resignation on Monday, Heather Bellow of the Berkshire Eagle reports. Reinforcements will arrive after a December special election, but in the meantime the lone board member says there will be no meetings and no efforts to fill the numerous town hall posts that are vacant.
Trucking company president to plead guilty to falsifying safety records
Dartanyan Gasanov, the president of Westfield Transport, will plead guilty to falsifying safety records. MassLive’s Stephanie Barry reports that Gasanov’s West Springfield trucking company was implicated in the 2019 crash that resulted in the deaths of seven motorcyclists in New Hampshire.
Not quite: Former police commissioner Gross didn’t vote in mayoral prelim
He tried. Despite pledging in a TV ad paid for by the Super PAC he leads that he’d vote for mayoral hopeful Annissa Essaibi George, former Boston Police Commissioner William Gross did not cast a vote in the September preliminary election. According to Gintautas Dumcius of the Dorchester Reporter, Gross tried to vote but was told his address had been changed by the Registry of Motor Vehicles.
New law could help as many as 10,000 kids access school meals
New legislation Gov. Charlie Baker ceremonially signed into law Monday could help as many as 10,000 children gain access to school meals. State House News Service’s Chris Lisinski reports that the bill also prohibits school cafeterias from “lunch shaming,” a practice where staff punish or identify students who haven’t paid off meal debts.
More from Lisinski: “At a ceremonial bill signing for the measure that became law 10 days ago, Project Bread CEO Erin McAleer said requiring schools with a majority of low-income students to enroll in free breakfast and lunch federal programs could help thousands of children who otherwise might have their education stymied by hunger.”
Head nurse says she was fired out of retaliation
The former top nurse at a Pittsfield nursing home alleges she was fired from her job after alerting others to inadequate staffing during a COVID-19 outbreak last winter. Berkshire Eagle’s Heather Bellow’s reports that Laura Heath, the former director of nursing at Springside Rehabilitation and Skilled Care Center, is seeking lost wages and benefits, attorneys’ fees and costs, and damages for emotional distress.
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