11 a.m. | U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren is the guest on GBH's Boston Public Radio talking about recent Democratic wins, the Inflation Reduction Act, the CHIPS and Science Act, veterans benefits, the state of the MBTA and the coming midterm elections.
4 p.m. | Democratic candidate for attorney general Andrea Campbell and former Framingham Mayor Yvonne Spicer attend a meet-and-greet with voters at Franklin St. Cafe in Framingham, followed by a visit at 5 p.m. to Padaria Brasil, a local Brazilian bakery and pizzeria
Good Friday morning.
Quick programming note: The governor’s desk is clear from the end of session, and I’m clearing mine off as well. I’ll be off next week, but MASSterList will still be here for you. I leave you in the capable hands of Craig Sandler and George Donnelly.
And now for the news…
The Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation is out with a new report this morning outlining the challenges that await the next governor if they hope to keep Massachusetts competitive with other states coming out of the pandemic.
Massachusetts ranks 43rd in the country in its recovery ahead of only Vermont, California, New Mexico, Oregon, Illinois, Hawaii and New York, according to the report, which cites a “Back-to-Normal” index created by Moody’s and CNN Business.
“Simply put: the next Governor and legislature must heed the warning signs outlined in this report – some of which have been building over many years, such as the astronomically high cost of living and doing business in this state, and some that are the direct result of a global pandemic which has created a new work paradigm, enabling people and employers to relocate elsewhere,” the reports opens.
The factors cited as potentially inhibiting growth should come as no surprise as elected officials and business leaders have been talking about them for months, if not years: the high cost of wages and benefits, energy prices, child care costs, traffic, and a lack of affordable housing.
While MTF writes that the pre-pandemic economy was a “powerhouse” built on the strength of its workforce, the rise of flexible work arrangements means it could become harder to recruit talent to Massachusetts where working from anywhere in the country, or world, is suddenly possible.
Roughly 940,000 people voluntarily left their jobs in the state in 2021, an increase of 63 percent from 2020, according to the report, resulting in 308,000 job openings going unfilled this past April.
The report, funded in part by the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership, also comes less a month before the primaries and three months before voters will decide a ballot question that would add a 4 percent surtax on income over $1 million. Business groups warn the change could exacerbate an already worrisome trend of out-migration to lower-cost states. Proponents of the so-called “millionaires tax” say the idea that the tax would drive employers out-of-state has been overblown.
Among the recommendations from the business-backed study: require those qualifying for unemployment benefits to be actively seeking new employment and reduce benefits from 30 weeks to 26 or fewer; expand early college and retraining programs, improve minority graduation rates and make degrees more attainable by lowering cost; better align housing and job opportunities with reliable public transit, and address the issues of access and cost in the child care system.
— Major climate bill become law despite Baker’s hesitations
Gov. Charlie Baker got over his “agita” and put his name on a sweeping piece of climate and clean energy legislation Thursday, but not before letting his deep apprehension over some parts of the bill be known in a signing letter to lawmakers and in an interview with the Globe. The governor warned that allowing 10 cities and towns to ban new fossil fuel hookups in new construction could effectively freeze the development of new affordable and multi-family housing in those communities at a time when the state needs to be accelerating its housing production to combat rising home prices and the cost of living in Greater Boston. Baker urged authorities to closely monitor the impact on prices. His signature, however, cements another major step forward toward clean energy at the end of the governor’s tenure, and it was celebrated by climate activists hoping the new law will pave the way for more offshore wind and renewable sources of energy to be brought online.
— Shhhh…It’s not free, but you don’t have to pay either
Ever since the MBTA announced it would shut down the Orange Line for a month in order to accelerate needed repairs on the busy subway line, elected leaders like U.S. Sen. Ed Markey and U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley have called on the T to make its service free system wide for the duration of the disruption to riders lives and schedules. And while the MBTA and Gov. Charlie Baker haven’t exactly embraced those entreaties, WBUR’s Nik DeCosta Klipa explains how the commuter rail will effectively become a free alternative for those commuting from nearby Boston without the MBTA explicitly saying so.
— Sewer emergency in P-town shutters downtown businesses
Ahead of Carnival Week in Provincetown, a state of emergency was declared in the popular Cape Cod destination due to a sewer emergency that prompted restaurants to be shut down and residents to be told to limit its water and toilet usage until the storm-caused damage to the town system can be repaired. While some businesses with septic tanks were able to stay open, the emergency impacted about 356 properties along the busy Commercial Street as portable toilets were brought in and crews scrambled to make repairs to limit the economic impact at the height of the summer season. The Cape Cod Times has full and ongoing coverage.
— Diehl embraces far right as he stump with South Dakota’s Noem
The Globe’s Samantha J. Gross takes you inside a fundraiser for Republican gubernatorial candidate Geoff Diehl at the posh Norwood home of auto magnate Ernie Boch Jr. where for a few moments Wednesday night it was easy to forget that this is Massachusetts, far from the beating heart of Trumpism. The event was planned around an appearance from conservative South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, who visited this week to stump with Diehl. She followed up the fundraiser with a stop Thursday in the North End of Boston where Diehl unveiled his new plan to school choice in Massachusetts.
— Hodgson takes a pass on ACLU survey
The three Democrats vying for the opportunity to challenge longtime Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson all responded to the ACLU of Massachusetts’s pre-election survey, while Hodgson himself declined to participate in what a spokesman called the group’s “political games.” Kevin Andrade of the Standard-Times has the details.
— Fall River Council president’s phone seized as part of investigation
Westport police have seized the mobile phone of Fall River City Council President Pam Lalibert-Lebeau in connection with an investigation into harassing phone calls, Jo Goode of the Herald News reports. Police say a Westport couple has been bombarded with calls and messages from spoofed phone numbers and that an investigation led them to Lalibert-Leabeau’s phone.
— Investigation finds human error caused errant Seabrook sirens
An inadvertent activation of the alarm sirens at the Seabrook nuclear power plant last month that rattled the nerves of beachgoers on both sides of the New Hampshire border was caused by human error and changes have been made to prevent a repeat, the plant’s owners said after wrapping up an internal investigation.
— Gaming Commission wants casinos to step up their games
It’s about the jobs. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission is reviewing how well the state’s two resort casinos are living up to their pre-opening promises and finding both MGM Springfield and Encore Boston Harbor falling short of both those targets and table-game numbers that were in place before the start of the coronavirus pandemic. MassLive’s Jim Kinney reports the Springfield casino is currently operating less than half of the 100 table games it is licensed to offer.
— Inflation hammers Amherst library project budget
Amherst leaders may soon face some tough decisions about the future of the renovation of the Jones Library after a massive spike in construction costs tied to global inflation, Scott Merzbach of the Daily Hampshire Gazette reports. The original price tag of $36.3 million surged by $11.6 million in the most recent update.
— Right-sized: Baker administration scales back new T housing rules
In the face of pushback from many of the communities impacted by new rules requiring multi-family zoning near MBTA stations, the Baker administration has eased some of the new requirements, the Globe’s Jon Chesto reports. The tweaks mean fewer housing units would be produced but gets some smaller communities such as Nahant and Plympton off the hook for building housing that leaders there said would be all but impossible given actual conditions on the ground.
— Baker urged to declare monkeypox “emergency”
The state’s Congressional delegation, including both U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, are urging Gov. Charlie Baker to declare a public health emergency in response to the monkeypox virus. The Department of Public Health on Thursday confirmed 45 new cases of the virus diagnosed between Aug. 4 and Aug. 10, bringing the total number of infections in Massachusetts to 202 since monkeypox was first detected on May 18. The Globe’s Felice J. Freyer reports that U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley wants to see the health emergency declared to bring awareness to the dangers of the virus, but Baker’s office said a declaration would have no practical impact on the state’s response as it looks to maximize federal resources, including vaccines doses, to control the spread.
— Challenger easily outraising Harrington in Berkshire DA race
Berkshire County District Attorney Andrea Harrington has fallen well behind challenger Timothy Shugrue in campaign fundraising in recent months, with the challenger outraising Harrington by a two-to-one margin. The Berkshire Eagle’s Meg Britton-Mehlisch has the numbers.
The Sunday Shows
Keller at Large, WBZ-TV Ch. 4, 8:30 a.m.: Host Jon Keller moderates a debate between Democratic candidates for auditor Chris Dempsey and Sen. Diana DiZoglio. The two candidates will cover DiZoglio’s voting record in the Senate, Dempsey’s voting record at the polls, how each would handle privatization proposals, views on Medicaid reform, and personal frugality.
On The Record, WCVB-TV Ch. 5, Sunday, 11 a.m.: Secretary of State William Galvin, who is running for reelection, is the guest with hosts Ed Harding and Janet Wu. Galvin’s interview will be followed by a political roundtable discussion with Democratic political analyst Mary Anne Marsh and Republican political analyst Virginia Buckingham.
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