10:30 a.m. | Massachusetts High Tech Council launches MassVision2050, a partnership with McKinsey & Company to determine what the state needs to think about and do to make the state "the preeminent place to live, create, and grow a business" by 2050.
11 a.m. | House and Senate meet in informal sessions.
11 a.m. | U.S. Sen. Ed Markey, U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton and other state and local officials hold "sandbreaking" to celebrate the dredging of Newburyport Harbor and the Merrimack River.
2 p.m. | U.S. Rep. Richard Neal holds an event at Springfield's Union Station to celebrate a grant to support the Cyber Range and Security Operations Center.
Happy Halloween! Hopefully this newsletter will make your Monday morning a little less scary, and not panic because…Eight more days until Election Day.
Massachusetts isn’t exactly what you’d call a battleground state this cycle. Neither U.S. senate seat is on the ballot, all nine members of the Congressional delegation are expected to comfortably win reelection, and polling has Attorney General Maura Healey easing into the governor’s office after eight years of Republican control.
But history has taught Democrats here that getting too comfortable comes with its own risks.
Maybe that’s why Healey will welcome Vice President Kamala Harris to Boston on Wednesday evening to try to generate a little buzz around the Massachusetts midterms. The rally at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center at Roxbury Community College is not just for Healey but for a ticket expected to make history with the first all-women executive team in the country and the first Black woman attorney general in state history.
Healey’s campaign said the event will be “focused on driving voters to the polls, especially in communities of color like Roxbury,” and speakers will “highlight how the Democratic ticket will bring people together, make Massachusetts more affordable and protect reproductive freedom.”
The guest list to hear Harris speak includes Healey, lieutenant governor nominee Kim Driscoll, attorney general nominee Andrea Campbell, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley and Boston Mayor Michelle Wu.
This certainly isn’t the first time in recent memory the White House has dispatched an ambassador to Massachusetts in the run-up to an election to try to spur the top of the ticket on to victory. Then-President Barack Obama traveled here in 2010 to rally for Deval Patrick, who was in a tough reelection fight with Charlie Baker. Patrick would go on to win.
Four years later it would be Michelle Obama who showed up trying to carry Martha Coakley across the finish line in a race against Baker when she would come up just short. President Obama had also campaigned for Coakley in her doomed race in 2010 for the U.S. Senate.
The downside to a visit from Harris at this stage in the game is probably small, although it feeds neatly into the yarn being spun by Republican Geoff Diehl that the economic struggles the country finds itself in can be traced back to President Joe Biden and the Democrats.
Diehl sat down for an interview with WBZ analyst and MASSterList columnist Jon Keller that aired Sunday where he defended his support for Donald Trump, despite the former president’s poor standing with Massachusetts voters.
“Trump delivered four years that I thought were pretty successful for our country,” Diehl said. “So the real contrast to me right now is two years later.”
But Diehl said he wanted voters to judge him “on my merits,” not who he’s supported in the past or who is or isn’t supporting him this cycle (i.e. Charlie Baker).
For what it’s worth, there was a time when people thought it might be Trump making a late-election visit to Massachusetts to stump for Diehl. Maybe the trick was on us.
— The checks are going in the mail
Check your bank balances starting Tuesday. It won’t be as satisfying as winning the $1 billion Powerball jackpot tonight, but still. Gov. Charlie Baker said Friday that income tax refund checks under the 1986 tax cap law will begin to go out starting Nov. 1. And don’t worry if nothing shows up. The state will be sending out the checks and making the transfers on a random and rolling basis through Dec. 15, with refunds now expected to be about 14 percent of what taxpayers put into the system in 2021. The total cost to the state is roughly $3 billion. The Globe’s Matt Stout writes more about how we got here and why this could be just the second and last time tax refunds will go out this way under the decades-old ballot law.
— Inflationary headwinds stall offshore energy project
Avangrid’s 1,200-megawatt Commonwealth Wind project has run into some turbulence as economic conditions have prompted the company to seek a one-month delay in the Department of Public Utilities’ review on the contracts submitted to the state last December to purchase the power that would be generated offshore. State House News Service’s Colin A. Young reports that global commodity prices, supply chain issues and surging interest rates have all conspired to compromise the viability of the project. Avangrid hopes to take the next month possibly to seek changes to the energy pricing proposed in the initial contracts, as well as additional cost saving measures that would put the project back on track.
— Neal leaning toward a “yes, but” on Question 1
U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, whose powerful position as chair of the House Ways and Means Committee is on the line in this year’s midterms, told WCVB’s “On the Record” why he thinks moderates should support Democrats this year. The Springfield Democrat also told Ed Harding and Janet Wu that he will likely support Question 1 adding a surtax on income over $1 million even though he doesn’t believe the ballot question it’s the best approach to deciding tax policy. Check out the rest of Neal’s interview, including where he stands on the Jones-Zappe quarterback controversy in New England.
— Transportation chair calls for breaking up the MBTA
It may be just one man’s opinion. But the House chair of the Committee on Transportation may be setting the bar ahead of a debate next session over MBTA funding, oversight and restructuring by suggesting the Legislature and next governor blow up the existing model. Rep. William Straus, a Mattapoisett Democrat, told CommonWealth Mag’s Bruce Mohl that the turnover in the executive suite provides the opportunity to rethink the state’s operation of public transit. Following reports and multiple oversight hearings during which the MBTA’s attention to safety was put under a microscope, Straus said he believes the agency is stretched too thin and should be contracted to focus simply on operating subway and bus service. The state’s commuter rail, ferries and major capital projects could be spun off and given to other part of government, including the Department of Transportation, to manage.
— Race for auditor getting personal
In what has become an increasingly nasty and personal campaign for auditor in the final weeks of the election, Republican Anthony Amore’s 2010 divorce has come in for examination after NBC10 reported on court filings showing that Amore’s ex-wife obtained a restraining order, and alleged emotional and physical abuse. Now Amore’s daughter is speaking up, telling the Globe that she disputes nothing in the court documents, despite Amore explaining that none of the allegations were substantiated by court or Department of Children and Families investigators. Amore believes he is the victim of a last-minute smear campaign by his opponent Sen. Diana DiZoglio, whose ties to a anti-gay Alabama church as a teenager have also surfaced as an issue.
— Where the gubernatorial candidates stand on health care
Is that ballot sitting on your kitchen table just waiting for you to make up your mind how to vote? If health care is your issue, WBUR’s Priyanka Dayal McCluskey breaks down what’s at stake with a new governor coming in, including what we know about how Maura Healey or Geoff Diehl would approach everything from COVID-19 to the mental health crisis.
— Coming back doesn’t come with back pay
Facing a Halloween deadline to decide if they want their old jobs back, MassLive’s Alison Kuznitz reports that it appears the few dozen employees fired over the state’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate would not receive retro-pay if they choose to resume their duties. The Baker administration offered a select number of employees their old jobs, indicating that some state agencies were newly able to accommodate the employees requests for religious or medical exemptions from the vaccine mandate.
— Candidates tackle housing at Worcester convention
Regardless of political party, you won’t hear a politician in the state say that the cost and availability of housing in Massachusetts isn’t a problem. Attorney General Maura Healey and Republican nominee for governor Geoff Diehl were both at a convention in Worcester this weekend to talk about the challenges, and how they would approach finding a solution.
— Campaigning online in the 21st century
Social media has been around for many election cycles at this point. But candidates and campaigns continue to find new ways to use the platforms to reach voters, devoting sizable chunks of their campaign cash to advertising and outreach through online vehicles as more Bay Staters (and Americans) get their news online. Amanda Cappelli reports for the Berkshire Eagle how social media is impacting some races in Massachusetts.
— Valley Flyer rail service to become permanent fixture
After a year-long pilot, the Valley Flyer passenger rail service between western Mass. and New York City will become permanent, the state Department of Transportation and Amtrak jointly announced on Friday. Julian Mendoza of the Daily Hampshire Gazette reports that officials say the test run exceeded expectations and is on track to provide 24,000 trips before the end of the current fiscal year.
— Extra duty: Lawrence city workers pressed into trash collection
Public works employees in Lawrence are being tasked with collecting trash because the city’s trash hauler has repeatedly failed to meet the specifications of its contract. Mayor Brian DePena says he’ll seek to add the cost of the overtime onto what he says Republic Services already owes the city for failing to meet its obligations. The Eagle-Tribune’s Jill Harmacinski has the details.
— Matter of time: Worcester divided ahead of CPA vote
As Worcester voters prepare to weigh in on whether the city should adopt the Community Preservation Act, the Telegram’s Cyrus Moulton reports debate is focusing on timing. Some residents say they cannot swallow the 1.5 percent property tax surcharge amid a surge in inflation and at a time when there’s a glut of available APRA funding. Others say adopting the act now will set the city up for when those federal funds are gone.
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