10 a.m. | Massachusetts Gaming Commission holds an adjudicatory hearing related to the multi-layered transaction involving MGM Springfield, MGM Resorts’ real estate investment trust and an “experiential” real estate investment trust regarding a proposal to sell the MGM Resort property and lease it back.
10 a.m. | Labor and Workforce Development Committee opens two-day window for written testimony on a Rep. Jamie Belsito bill ( H 4557) regarding paid pregnancy loss leave.
10:30 | Simmons University holds a ceremony to officially confer the presidency of the institution to Lynn Perry Wooten, the university’s ninth president and first African American to lead the institution.
12 p.m. | Health Care Financing Committee holds a hearing on Gov. Charlie Baker’s health care bill (S 2774) proposing to mandate increased spending by insurers and providers on primary care and behavioral health. Baker and Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders will testify.
12:30 | Speaker Ronald Mariano, House Ways and Means Chairman Aaron Michlewitz and other lawmakers tour Ellis Early Learning in Boston’s South End and announce early education and care workforce investments that will be part of the House’s fiscal year 2023 budget proposal.
4 p.m. | Horse racing season kicks off in Massachusetts with the start of a 110-day racing meet at Plainridge Park Racecourse.
Good Monday morning.
The concerns over mounting student debt in the United States have been well documented, but a new report being published Monday by the Hildreth Institute finds that declining state support for public higher education – once an affordable alternative to costlier private universities – has closed that door for many low-income families.
The study – shared here firstwith MASSterList and the State House News Service – documents how over two decades state funding for public universities and community colleges has declined 20 percent from $10,907 per full-time student to $8,728, when adjusted for inflation.
Without those state dollars to pay faculty and invest in campus facilities, tuition and fees increased 59 percent between 2000 and 2020 while median household earnings grew only 13 percent. The result? Public university students are taking on more debt, or unable to attend at all.
“While the state has neglected its obligation to students counting on an affordable public higher education, colleges and universities leaned heavily on families for student-generated revenue and the state’s financial aid and scholarships have failed to ease this excessive burden on low- and middle-income students,” said the report’s author Bahar Akman Imboden.
The timing of the Hildreth Institute study is important because the House is about to detail its fiscal year 2023 budget plans, and pressure is building to invest in another area of the education system – early education and care. House leaders plan to release their FY23 budget proposal on Wednesday.
Demonstrators rallied on Boston Common on Saturday in support of investments to make child care and early education more affordable.
HOUSE SPEAKER RON MARIANO and House Ways and Means Chairman Aaron Michlewitz are expected to proposed new investments in the early education workforce on Monday after touring the Ellis Early Learning center in the South End.
A special legislative commission recently recommended steps the state could take to improve early education that came with a $1.5 billion annual price tag. The Hildreth Institute pegs the cost of debt-free higher education at between $771 million and $1 billion.
Some other takeaways from the study:
— 63 percent of students at public universities have to take out loans compared to 53 percent of private college students
— Public university students are graduating with a higher average debt ($24,112) than their private-school peers ($23,940)
— Enrollment declined during the pandemic 6.9 percent in 2020 and 4.2 percent in 2021, with the decline more acute at community colleges and among first-year Black and Latinx student.
ALSO OVER THE WEEKEND:
Gov. Charlie Baker’s office announced the governor had signed legislation Friday that will allow adults to adopt younger siblings, aunts or uncles, removing a legal barrier to kinship adoptions that supporters hope will allow more foster children to be placed in safe homes.
Electric vehicle adoption in need of a jolt
As I covered last week when the Senate rolled out a climate bill that would invest significantly in electric-vehicle rebates, the number of zero-emission vehicles on the road badly lag the state’s targets to meet carbon emission reductions requirements over the next several decades. The Boston Globe’s Sabrina Shankman and Taylor Dolven dig deeper in this weekend piece that looks both at where Massachusetts is with EV deployment and the barriers that still stand in the way of widespread adoption, including charging infrastructure and rebates that don’t measure up to what other states are offering.
“Not a drop!”: Protesters turn out against radioactive water dumping
Hundreds gathered at the Town Wharf in Plymouth this weekend to protest the possible dumping of nuclear waste water into Cape Cod Bay, which is one of several options being explored by Holtec International following the decommissioning of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station. The Patriot Ledger’s Hongyu Liu reports that about 250 people turned out to express their concerns about public and the impact dumping would have on tourism and the seafood industry. Holtec must determine what to do with the water used at Pilgrom to cool nuclear fuel rods. Other options include evaporating it or transporting it to a storage facility in Texas, both of which might be more costly and have their own risks. Rep. Kathy LaNatra of Kingston and Sen. Su Moran of Falmouth have both filed legislation to prevent the discharge of radioactive material into the bay, and they will be heard on Beacon Hill this week.
Behind the scenes with Gov. Baker and his COVID-19 team
More than two years into a pandemic that derailed his second term, Gov. Charlie Baker is back to doing a lot of things you’d expect from a governor, including pushing a final-year legislative agenda. But even as COVID-19 restrictions fade away and the masks come down, Baker still meets twice a week with his staff to review infection data, requests for protective equipment and other measuring sticks to stay on top of where the virus is moving. The Boston Globe’s Matt Stout got behind the behind the curtain for a look at what fighting COVID-19 in 2022 looks like for the administration.
Twelve unvaccinated State Police officers now unemployed
Twelve state troopers were dismissed Friday for failure to comply with Gov. Charlie Baker’s mandate that all executive branch employees be vaccinated against COVID-19. All of the officers in involved, including 11 troopers and one sergeant – applied for a waiver on religious or medical grounds, but were denied, the Herald’s Flint McColgan reporters. Some public safety unions, including the State Police Association of Massachusetts, have tried to challenge Baker’s vaccine mandate in court, but judges have repeatedly upheld Baker’s authority to require vaccination.
Healey’s quiet campaign for governor
The Boston Globe led the Sunday newspaper with a deep dive into Attorney General Maura Healey’s early campaign for governor and its reluctance to lay down a detailed policy prescription for the troubles facing the state that Healey has been discussing on the trail. “We haven’t seen anything. She remains a perfect political chalice, but it’s not clear what’s inside,” said Lou DiNatale, a veteran Massachusetts pollster. The Globe’s Matt Stout and Samantha Gross wrangled some details from the campaign, even thought Healey declined to be interviewed. For instance, she says she supports expanded down payment assistance for homeowners, the electrification of parts of the state’s public transportation system and limiting capping out-of-pocket costs for child care. But it seems like not much has changed from a month ago when Stout wrote an eerily similar story about Healey’s campaign strength, despite being short on policy details.
MTF chief calls Baker’s tax package “balanced”
The state has the money, but does the Legislature have the interest? Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation President Eileen McAnneny hopes lawmakers warm up to Gov. Charlie Baker’s $700 million package of tax cuts, calling them “balanced” and critical for Massachusetts to retain its competitive edge as changing dynamice like work-from-home give skilled workers more options. “It provides a lot of help to folks at the lower end of the income spectrum that have been most impacted by the pandemic,” McAnneny told MASSterList contributor and WBZ reporter and commentator Jon Keller on Sunday, according to the Herald. Baker has another factor working in his favor, MacAnneny said: “It is an election year and people like tax relief.”
The local news landscape is about to shift again
In this ode to a dying local news industry, the Globe’s Jon Chesto explores Gannett’s plans to fold or merge two-dozen local newspapers in Massachusetts and shift the way the remaining journalists cover local news. The change to the media landscape means many newspapers that for generations have helped stitch together the fabric of local communities will no longer cover their cities and towns the way they used to, if at all. “They’re saying they’re going to have local content, but they’re not going to have local reporters. It’s devastating…,” said Greg Reibman, a former community newspaper editor and head of the Charles River Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Student diversity in Springfield not reflected in faculty
Springfield is one of the most diverse cities in Massachusetts, yet like school districts around the country the racial and ethnic makeup of the faculty doesn’t necessarily reflect that of the student body. The Springfield Republican’s Elizabeth Roman reports that 68 percent of the students in Springfield are Hispanic and about 18 percent are Black, but only 12.2 percent of teachers are Black and 10.1 percent are Latino. Roman talked with students, teachers and administrators about the importance of students seeing themselves reflected in the educators they work with every day, and some of the barriers to helping Black and Latinx paraprofessionals take that next step to becoming public school teachers.
Fatal accident on MBTA’s Red Line
A man whose arm got caught in the closing doors of an MBTA Red Line train early Sunday morning was dragged into a tunnel at the Broadway Station in South Boston and suffered fatal injuries, NBC10’s Michael Rosenfield and Thea DiGiammerino report. The accident occurred around 12:50 a.m., and is under investigation. “It’s pretty unthinkable,” said one T rider.
Lost weekend: More trouble for JetBlue at Logan
It was another weekend of chaos at Logan Airport, where JetBlue canceled 54 flights on Saturday and another 49 on Sunday – and the airline is warning troubles could continue with the Bay State’s school vacation week looming just days away. Rick Sobey of the Herald and the Globe’s Ramsey Khalifeh and Katie Redefer have all the details, as some question whether these are just delays or more troubling symptoms of a bigger problem for one of Boston’s most popular and active airlines.
Swampscott latest to make the switch to Indigenous Peoples Day
Swampscott is poised to become the 21st Bay State community to formally ditch the Columbus Day holiday in favor of marking it Indigenous People’s Day. The town’s select board recommended that Town Meeting voters adopt the switch next month, Gayla Cawley of the Item reports.https://www.itemlive.com/2022/04/10/swampscott-will-join-other-communities-in-celebrating-indigenous-peoples-day/
Tale of two states: New Hampshire, Mass. moving in opposite directions on abortion access
With the U.S. Supreme Court poised to take action on a case that could overturn federal abortion rights, sweeping legislation passed in 2020 could set the Bay State up as a haven for legal access to the procedure, Christian Wade of the Salem News reports.
Meanwhile, New Hampshire, Wade reports, is moving in the opposite direction. Gov. Chris Sununu last year signed a law restricting a doctor from performing an abortion after 24 week even in cases of rape, incest or a terminal fetal diagnosis. Democratic efforts to add exemptions to the law have so far come up short. Wade writes that policies like these could make Massachusetts a destination for women seeking reproductive health care they can’t get in their home state.
Seekonk lawmaker files bill to crack down on catalytic converter thieves
For him, it’s personal. Rep. Steve Howitt filed legislation last week that would increase penalties for those convicted of stealing catalytic converters from vehicles – a crime he experienced himself when someone swiped the converter off his F-250. David Linton of the Sun-Chronicle reports the Seekonk Republican’s bill could mean thieves could face fines of up to $500 and 30 days in jail.
This day in history: T’s troubles cited in absentee voting debate
On this day back in 2019, a year before the coronavirus arrived and upended how elections are conducted, the MBTA’s historic unreliability was being cited as a reason for expanding access to no-excuse absentee voting, Katie Lannan of the State House News Service reported. Today it’s public health, convenience and access that are the factors driving the push toward voting by mail.
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