Happening Today

9 a.m. | Education Secretary James Peyser, Early Education and Care Commissioner Samantha Aigner-Treworgy, Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeff Riley and Higher Education Commissioner Carlos Santiago participate in the Rennie Center for Education Research and Policy’s annual State of the State of Education Event, at which the Rennie Center will release its 2022 Condition of Education in the Commonwealth report

9:45 a.m. | Sen. Chandler hosts a press conference at Worcester City Hall to make an announcement “regarding the future of her career in public service.” Chandler, 84, has served in the Senate since 2001 and served as Senate president for a part of the 2017-2018 session.

10 a.m. | Governor’s Council hears commutation recommendation for Thomas Koonce, now serving a life sentence for a 1997 murder.  Koonce will attend.  The hearing is planned for Room 157 at the State House, which is closed to the public, but will be livestreamed.

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11 a.m. | Fitch Ratings hosts webinar to discuss its 2022 outlook for state and local governments with input from Michael Rinaldi, senior director for local governments, and Eric Kim, senior director for state governments

Noon | Commercial real estate development group NAIOP Massachusetts holds a virtual discussion with Massachusetts Environmental Protection Act Office Director Tori Kim on the final regulations and associated guidance issued last month to implement environmental justice provisions included in the climate law Gov. Baker signed in March 2021

Today’s Stories

Good morning!  It’s going to be FREEZING cold, then snow a foot or so, and, well, it’s late January, so if that bums you out too much, we think you’re more cut out for a less rigorous newsletter.  BIMINIList, perhaps.  But here you are…

The MASSterList panel conversation on ARPA spending yesterday only lasted an hour, but during that time, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 715 points.

With the governor set to release the final budget of his administration today, there could be a warning coming from Wall Street on state budget strategy, and probably the approach to ARPA spending as well: Later might be better than sooner. Big market downturns (the Dow recovered yesterday, but not the Nasdaq, and the trend is not good) are inevitably followed by state-revenue contraction.

Between inflation and economic difficulty, now might not be the time to spend, spend, spend. The mysterious revenue overgrowth of the last two years notwithstanding, Ukraine, the supply chain, and hiring pain all suggest it’s not going to last.

That’s hardly the mood of the moment, though. Audience members at the event, a proxy for advocates of all sorts across state government, made clear they want the ARPA billions out the door yesterday.

Gov. Charlie Baker, in his annual State of the Commonwealth, mentioned putting the $2.55 billion in ARPA funds already appropriated to work. “We know there is much to do, and we need to move quickly,” Baker said.

But there’s no rush on either side of the State House to ring the bell on Round Two. Baker is eyeing a transportation bond to maximize the billions of dollars available through the new federal infrastructure law, but when he releases his fiscal 2023 budget proposal later today the focus will be on money going in the other direction.

Rather than spending, Baker last night teased a package of tax cuts and breaks that he intends to float: a doubling of the child tax credit, property tax breaks for seniors, tax relief for renters, and, perhaps biggest of all, the elimination of the income tax for the lowest 230,000 earners in the state. No word yet on how much that would all cost, but for Democrats in an election year it could be an enticing proposition.

As always, it’s wise to keep in mind that while the governor’s budget is a splendid articulation of the executive’s vision for where the state should go, it’s far from documentation of what’s actually going to happen. Many M-Listers are well familiar with the ancient phrase, “The governor proposes, the Legislature disposes,” and many have lived it as well, sometimes painfully.

The third-most important official in Massachusetts budgeting has the floor today, and now the dance will begin.

Baker’s Finale: Governor looks back over seven years, then forward to his last in office

He laughed, he cried, he bragged a bit; then he let out his inner wonk.  Gov. Charlie Baker had a fine time last night seizing the moment as he pointed to a jobless rate below the traditional definition of full employment and then declared the state of a pandemic-battered Commonwealth “strong” after all.  He waxed a bit sentimental about municipal regulatory reform in weirdly charming fashion, ticked off his accomplishments and praised everyone there for driving Massachusetts through the endless dark days of COVID, singling out particular points of light like the National Guard. He then laid out the Baker/Polito agenda for what he said would be a strong finish, making a plea for collaboration and trust among politicians amidst chaos. As he did, in the audience, the camera caught Maura Healy nodding her head in agreement.  Matt Stout and Emma Platoff were there for the Globe; Erin Teirnan for the Herald; Matt Murphy and Chris Lisinsky for the News Service (paywall).

Two’s company: Republican Doughty to enter governor’s race

There will be plenty of primaries. Wrentham businessman Chris Doughty plans to join the race to become the Bay State’s next governor on Wednesday, setting up a Republican primary clash with Trump acolyte Geoff Diehl, Stephanie Ebbert of the Globe reports. Doughty says he’s getting in because no other “moderates” have stepped forward and plans to argue that his business experience has prepared him to make the state more affordable and prosperous.

Boston Globe

Checking the data with Omicron waning

Martin Finuance and Ryan Huddle of the Globe go over the ever-sobering statistics covering This Week In COVID.  Takeaway: hospitalizations down, deaths up, we’re not out of the woods.

Boston Globe

And yet, omicron-shmomicron: the Vineyard awaits.

With a major snowstorm on the way, disease- and- winter-weary Bay Staters (and others, we suppose) booked summer rides on the Martha’s Vineyard ferry at the rate of almost 4,000 reservations an hour.  Brittany Bowker provides details. 

Boston Globe

“Mass General Brigham has a spending problem”

That pretty much sums it up, which is just what the Health Policy Commission was formed to address.  With that phrase, the commission yesterday called out a provider, Mass. General Brigham (i.e. the state’s most prestigious), for being too free with its spending, and therefore making the system too expensive for everyone and health care harder to get for the less-privileged.  The HCP is putting MGB under a PIP.  (Couldn’t resist.)  Katie Lannan of the SHNS covered the story.

State House News Service (paywall)

Feeding the dog that bites you? Businesses giving to Healey

Steph Solis of the Boston Business Journal has a thorough, worthwhile walk though of the business dollars that poured into the coffers of Attorney General, now gubernatorial candidate, Maura Healey even before she officially declared.  This despite her frequent forays into tough talk and enforcement action when it comes to Big Business vs. the Little Guy.  So far, Solis notes,  lone Republican Geoff Diehl is not keeping up.

Boston Business Journal

Lucas more or less recommends Diehl invite Biden to Mass.

Boston Herald Grand Curmudgeon Peter Lucas, who’s chronicled the comings and goings of gubernatorial candidates for 60 years, has a fine old time dreaming of a moment this summer when Donald Trump and Joe Biden both visit the Bay State on behalf of Geoff Diehl on the same day.  Lucas suggests that would go better for Diehl and, though we hate to spoil his last line, it’s so great we have to: he suggests Healey should “forget Joe Biden.  He needs more help than she does.” 

Boston Herald

No-clawback… clawback?

Remember Monday?  When the governor said the state wasn’t out to shake down people who’d been delivered overpayment by the unemployment-insurance system?  That there was “no clawback?”  Well, Monday was such a long time ago… Shirley Lueng and Larry Edelman of the Globe take the governor to task.

Boston Globe

A restaurant roundtable to keep diners round the table

WCVB’s Jennifer Eagan reports from the Cambridge restaurant where Sen. Elizabeth Warren sat down with restauranteurs hopeful she’ll find the final four votes to get a $60 billion appropriation for assistance to the industry through the Senate.   

WCVB

Flattery will get you embarrassed

A couple of eagle-eyed readers noticed we got a LITTLE ahead of the story in the Happening block yesterday, and had Shannon Liss-Riordan going after the governorship before she’d even announced for the job she actually wants, attorney general.  We appreciate the help!

Random Factoid of the Day

Massachusetts ranks seventh-lowest among the states in pet ownership at 49 percent of homes, according to the website World Population Review. Wyoming ranks highest (72 percent), and Rhode Island ranks lowest (45 percent).  Guess there’s just no space to keep ’em.

World Population Review

Not happening: Worcester spikes vax passport before debate begins

A literal non-starter. The Worcester City Council on Tuesday snuffed out a proposal that would have made it the latest community to enact a vaccine passport requirement at some local businesses even before debate on the hot-button issue got started. Steven Foskett Jr. of the Telegram has the details. 

Worcester Telegram

South Shore leaders want more opioid settlement cash to trickle down

Share the wealth. The Patriot Ledger’s Wheeler Cowperthwaite reports that leaders in Rockland and other South Shore communities want the state to deliver more of the $537 million in opioid settlement money the state is due to receive to affected communities. As it stands, the state plans to keep 85 percent of the windfall and mete out the rest to cities and towns over a 15-year period.

Patriot Ledger

Fifty-fifty: Saint Vincent says half of striking nurses have returned

A month after one of the longest strikes in state history, slightly more than half of the 600 registered nurses who walked off the job at Saint Vincent Hospital have returned to the fold, Grant Welker of the Boston Business Journal reports. That’s fewer than expected and the hospital’s parent company says it is working on a plan to get staffing back to pre-strike levels.

Boston Business Journal

Today’s Headlines

Metro

Wu: No Boston businesses fined over coronavirus vaccine mandate – Boston Herald

Lynn council hears plan to end residency requirement – Lynn Item

Massachusetts

Wellfleet police to start wearing body cameras by February – Cape Cod Times

Nation

Pelosi is running for reelection but is silent on a bid to retain her leadership post – NPR

Dr. Oz stumbles out of the gate in Senate race – Politico

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