Happening Today:

8:15 a.m. | Massachusetts Nonprofit Network holds its annual conference featuring a keynote session composed of recent MNN award winners who will discuss challenges, successes and insights. Lifetime achievement awards will be presented to Michael Curry, CEO of the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers, and Linda Cavaioli, former executive director of YWCA Central Massachusetts.

9 a.m. | MassDOT Board of Directors meets virtually.

9:30 a.m. | Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito join legislators at the Museum of Science for a ceremonial signing of legislation establishing the official dinosaur of Massachusetts.

10 a.m. | Senate Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change hosts a virtual oversight hearing on the Clean Energy and Climate Plan for 2025 and 2030 that the Baker administration released in June.

10:15 a.m. | Governor's Council interviews Stoughton District Court Clerk Magistrate Kirsten Hughes, former chair of the state Republican Party, who has been nominated for a transfer to the to the Boston Municipal Court's South Boston division.

2:15 p.m. | Republican candidate for auditor Anthony Amore holds a press conference with former Gov. William Weld.

3 p.m. | Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce hosts "The Racial Wealth Gap: Wealth Building Now and Tomorrow" with panelists Segun Idowu, chief of economic opportunity and inclusion for the city of Boston; Betty Francisco, CEO of Boston Impact Initiative; Paul Lee, chair of the Asian Community Fund at the Boston Foundation; and Brett Goldstein of Putnam Investments.

Attorney General Maura Healey’s position as the odds-on favorite to become the next governor of Massachusetts has been solidified three weeks out from the election with a new poll showing the Democrat holding a 56-33 advantage over Republican Geoff Diehl.

The Suffolk University/Boston Globe/NBC10 poll released Tuesday night had Healey leading Diehl with voters of all ages, genders, races and in every region of the state. Only registered Republicans preferred Diehl to Healey, with GOP voters unanimously backing their party’s nominee.

While Diehl showed some strength in the southeast region of the state and with voters aged 46-55, the margin among unenrolled voters – 47-36 in Healey’s favor – is not nearly good enough for a Republican to win statewide in Massachusetts.

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“This race is about [Healey], and it’s really not about anyone else,” David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center, told The Boston Globe. “Nothing has broken against her too much.”

The narrative around Healey being an unstoppable force has not changed much since she entered the race in early 2022 and her prospective primary opponents dropped out one by one. Diehl has never been given much of a chance by observers who looked at Gov. Charlie Baker enduring popularity (69 percent job approval) and the efforts by Diehl and the MassGOP to distance themselves from the governor as a recipe for failure.

Even still, the tone in some of the coverage of Healey has changed in recent weeks with some columnists like the Globe’s Joan Vennochi beginning to question whether she was resting too much on her laurels and not being clear enough with voters what she would do as governor. The knives – albeit dull ones – have come out despite Healey putting out detailed policy positions on everything from child tax credits and housing to transportation and climate change.

Democratic candidates lead by double digits in every other statewide race as well, according to the new poll. The closest contest appears to be that for auditor, but even then Republican Anthony Amore trails Sen. Diana DiZoglio 40 percent to 25 percent.

The poll also indicated voters are likely to approve a new surtax on high-income earners (58-37) and allow a law to stand (56-39) giving immigrants who are unable to prove their legal status access to driver’s licenses. Those are two issues Diehl and his supporters oppose and probably needed to break the other way to give his campaign some tailwinds.

The poll was conducted Thursday through Sunday, after Healey and Diehl’s first televised debate. Diehl will have one more shot to blunt Healey momentum Thursday night in the final debate of the season.

— Diehl quietly appeals to Christian right in web ad

Republican Geoff Diehl’s ads have not gained a lot of traction, in part because he hasn’t had enough money to put them on television to reach a broad audience. But the Globe’s Samantha J. Gross found one digital spot with limited money behind it that stands out in Massachusetts, where cultural issues like prayer in schools don’t often make it to the main stage of statewide politics. In the ad, Diehl accuses Healey of opposing prayer in schools because of her opposition to a Supreme Court decision in June that sided with a Washington high school football coach who had been fired for having his players pray together on the field after games. It also speaks about restoring “foundational Christian value.” Healey’s campaign said the AG supports “religious freedom.”

The Boston Globe

— Longstanding tax breaks identified for possible elimination

With Democratic leaders still weighing the affordability of additional tax relief and breaks for parents, renters and seniors, a panel that periodically reviews the state’s tax code for tax credits and other breaks that have outlived their usefulness has identified a few areas where the state could be collecting more money. The Eagle-Tribune’s Christian Wade reports that the Tax Expenditure Review Commission agrees its time for breaks like the sales tax exemption on aircraft and aircraft parts to go. Wade has more on the other perks singled out for elimination. But getting the Legislature to act on these recommendations has historically been a heavier lift.

The Eagle-Tribune

— Healey taps settlements to address ER boarding crisis

Attorney General Maura Healey is directing $2.9 million form recent legal settlements won by her office into a grant program to help alleviate the emergency room boarding crisis facing hospitals unable to handle the volume of patients with behavioral health needs. The Globe’s Jessica Bartlett reports that two-year grants of up to $250,000 will go to non-profits to help them create, maintain or expand the mental services they offer. “This is exactly the type of investment that will help connect patients with the resources they need while they are in crisis and help relieve pressure from hospitals during a tremendously fragile time,” said Leigh Simons Youmans, senior director for health care policy at the Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association.

The Boston Globe

— Baker has time left to expand influence over judicial system

Gov. Charlie Baker’s fingerprints on the state’s court system will last years if not decades. The Republican has already named all seven justices currently sitting on the Supreme Judicial Court, not to mention scores of lower court judges. But he’s not done. As State House News Service’s Sam Doran reports, three nominees could be confirmed as soon as today, and four others are scheduled for hearings before the Governor’s Council. Doran counts eight additional vacancies the governor could move to fill before his time in office runs out, including four vacancies at the district court level.

State House News Service

— The promise of General Electric unfulfilled in Boston

General Electric’s decision in 2016 to relocate its corporate headquarters to Boston was a major coup for Gov. Charlie Baker and then-Mayor Marty Walsh. It meant jobs and a major tenant in Fort Point, but it also spoke volumes about the city and its business ecosystem. Fast-forward six years and that promise has never been fulfilled. The Globe’s Jon Chesto writes that as GE now plans to splinter off its divisions into separate companies, it is planning to leave the South Boston HQ it built for a smaller office space elsewhere in Boston. It’s also downsizing in New York.

The Boston Globe

— Unemployment bill coming due for state businesses

The bill for COVID-19 induced unemployment is coming due. The Eagle-Tribune’s Christian Wade reports that businesses will have to repay nearly $2 billion in the coming years to help cover the loans that state took out to cover unemployment benefits during the pandemic. More than half – $915 million – is due next year, while repayments will decrease over the following three years. Business groups have been urging the Legislature to use surplus or remaining ARPA funds to provide additional support for unemployment insurance as rents, labor and other costs have stretched small business budgets.

The Eagle-Tribune

— Moulton refuses to debate challenger over election denial

U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton told his Republican challenger Robert May, Jr. he will not take part in a one-on-one debate with him before the Nov. 8 election because of May’s stance on the 2020 election. Jim Sullivan of The Salem News reports Moulton and May had an exchange at a Newburyport town hall in which Moulton said such a debate would “give air time to election deniers.”

The Salem News

— Decisions must be made about how to fund the MBTA

The next governor will inherit an enviable fiscal situation. The state will be coming off a year of record surpluses, and, if polling holds, new money could be tagged for education and transportation from the millionaires tax, which looks to have a good chance of passing next month. But with the MBTA staring down a likely deficit once federal relief dollars dry up, the debate over funding transportation – and in particular the T – could be back on the agenda next year. State House News Service’s Chris Lisinski reports that Sen. Brendan Crighton, the co-chair of the Transportation Committee – does not believe raising fares can be the solution to the funding problems at the T. But he stopped short of endorsing any other specific remedy. Meanwhile, Fred Salvucci, the state’s former transportation secretary under Gov. Michael Dukakis, warned against a return to the days of “reform before revenue.” “The organization has not had enough money to properly maintain its assets, and if that’s not fixed, it doesn’t matter what board structure or general manager you put,” Salvucci said.

State House News Service

— The Orange Line was supposed to be faster. It’s not.

Even when the state does throw money at the T problem, the results are not always there for riders. MBTA passengers were expecting that after the unprecedented month-long shut down of the Orange Line their train riders would be faster, smoother and without hiccups. That’s because officials said the accelerated work would allow them to lift speed restrictions currently in place along sections of track to be lifted. But the Globe’s Taylor Dolven reports that speeds on the Orange Line are actually slower overall than before the shutdown and the explanations for why have varied. T officials are taking responsibility for poor communication about when speed restrictions would be lifted, but for now riders are still being told to be patient.

The Boston Globe

— Trio of lawsuits filed against approval of Nantucket 40B  

Three lawsuits have been filed against the state Housing Appeals Committee’s approval of a 156-unit affordable housing project on Nantucket proposed four years ago under the state’s 40B statute, Dean Geddes of the Inquirer & Mirror reports. The town of Nantucket, the nonprofit Nantucket Land Council and a group of neighbors have all filed appeals asking a court to reverse the committee’s decision. 

Inquirer & Mirror

— Somerset voters take slow approach to adding officers in schools 

Somerset Town Meeting voters have embraced a middle-of-the-road approach to boosting the number of police in the town’s schools, backing the school committee’s recommendation to add a single new officer now and to spend $50,000 on a security assessment before more officers are hired. Audrey Cooney of the Herald-News reports that voters passed over articles that would have added as many as four new school resources officers right away.

The Herald News

— Citing inflation, Steamship Authority raises fares for 2023 

It will be more expensive to get to and from the islands next year after the Steamship Authority voted to raise fares for most trips. The agency said the rate hikes are necessary because of increased fuel costs and other inflationary pressures. Rich Saltzberg of the Martha’s Vineyard Times has all the numbers.

Martha’s Vineyard Times

MORE HEADLINES:

Metro

After controversial firing, Hayden appoints new head of DA’s juvenile unit – The Boston Globe

Microsoft mum on Boston-area impact of reported layoffs – Boston Business Journal

Liz Cheney says Jan. 6 committee will subpoena Trump ‘shortly’ at Harvard forum – The Boston Globe

Massachusetts

Parking on private property provides bonanza in Salem  – The Salem News

Lawrence mayor to fine trash hauler over no-show service – The Eagle-Tribune

Plainridge in Plainville sees best September revenue since 2018 – The Sun Chronicle

Home Sale Slowdown Stretches Into September – State House News Service

National

You can keep more money from the IRS next year, thanks to inflation – The Washington Post

Voters See Democracy in Peril, but Saving It Isn’t a Priority – The New York Times

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Dylan Rossiter is Publisher for Consumer Products at Affiliated News Services, LLC, overseeing MASSterList and client activations for the State House News Service. He is one of the only disabled media leaders in the Boston market. Rossiter joined Affiliated in 2020 as Circulation Manager for wire service and trade publishing subscriptions. He has extensive media operations experience in broadcast television and newspapers in Massachusetts and New York’s Capital Region. A 2021 graduate of Emerson College, he holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism and achieve the rank of Managing Editor at the award-winning student newspaper, The Berkeley Beacon.