10 a.m. | The Boston Foundation hosts a virtual event to release the inaugural "Boston Climate Progress Report."
10:30 a.m. | U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu and Boston Public Health Commission Executive Director Bisola Ojiku host a roundtable discussion about $493,000 the city received in federal funding to address the public health impacts of structural racism.
11 a.m. | House and Senate meet for informal sessions.
11:30 a.m. | Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance holds a virtual press conference with Chip Ford of Citizens for Limited Taxation, Chris Anderson of the Mass. High Tech Council, and Christopher Carlozzi of NFIB in Massachusetts to discuss their reasons for opposing Questions 1 and 4.
12 p.m. | Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito tour the Municipal Police Training Committee Academy in Lynnfield to highlight their administration's work to reform policing.
6 p.m. | Gov. Charlie Baker delivers the Harvard Kennedy School's 2022 Godkin Lecture about "the essentials of democratic governance and the duties of the citizen."
Gov. Charlie Baker is disappointed. Attorney General Maura Healey is disappointed. Even Senate President Karen Spilka said she was disappointed.
So why did top Democrats elect to carve permanent tax reforms worth about $500 million in relief from a nearly $3.8 billion economic development spending bill?
“The relief will be coming. Obviously we’re committed to taking a look at permanent tax cuts next year when we have a better picture of what the economy looks like. We want to be sure that what we do is smart and well thought out,” House Speaker Ron Mariano explained, according to The Globe.
Let’s forget for a moment that just a few months ago legislative leaders in both the House and Senate all thought tax reform – increased child, renter and senior credits, plus estate tax reforms – was a great idea when it easily passed through both branches. Then came the revelation that the state would be required to return close to $3 billion to taxpayers in refunds under a 1986 “tax cap” law known as 62F.
Some finger pointing about who knew what when followed, and now it seems Mariano and House leaders have decided it best to let the next governor get the win on tax reform, if it happens at all.
“House and Senate leaders are committed to revisiting the issue of broader, more permanent tax relief next session. This will help to ensure that our discussion of permanent tax relief can and will be informed by the views of a newly elected Legislature and Governor, while considering the looming challenges facing the Commonwealth,” read a joint statement from top Democrats.
Policy decisions like these seldom get made quickly in the Legislature, even if they’ve already been shown to be popular among the members. But with Attorney General Maura Healey promising everywhere she goes on the campaign trail that she will cut taxes as governor, this could be an early and easy box for her to check by next summer.
Healey spokeswoman Karissa Hand said the gubernatorial hopeful believes the economic development bill announced Wednesday “takes several important steps to support our economy, community health centers, small businesses, housing, transportation and more.” “But she is disappointed it does not include badly needed tax reform. As Governor, it will be a top priority of hers to get this done with the Legislature,” Hand said.
Of course, if Republican Geoff Diehl should pull off the upset on Tuesday lawmakers might feel differently about revisiting the topic of tax relief. His campaign did not return a request for comment.
That brings us to today, when the House will try to get unanimous consent to pass the massive spending bill that will invest billions in housing, hospitals, the MBTA, low-income heating assistance and other priorities. The spending relies on a mix of surplus revenues and American Rescue Plan Act Funds, while still leaving $1.75 billion in APRA money for the next governor, reports SHNS’s Colin A. Young.
With the election five days away, some lawmakers will be disappointed as well that tax reform didn’t make the cut. But will anyone be willing to hold up the entire spending bill over it? The House gavels in at 11 a.m.
— Harris to Massachusetts: Call your out-of-state cousins
Vice President Kamala Harris swooped into town Wednesday for a rally to support a Democratic ticket led by gubernatorial frontrunner Maura Healey. But with Healey, attorney general hopeful Andrea Campbell and Boston Mayor Michelle Wu all there in Roxbury to support Harris and energize voters before next week, Harris pointed to the influence Massachusetts voters can have beyond its borders, in places like New Hampshire. “Call your cousins,” the California Democrat said. The Globe’s Samantha J. Gross points out how the high-profile visit from Harris may seem unusual given the lack of competition most Democrats here face this cycle for governor and seats in Congress. But while President Joe Biden and former President Barack Obama stump in places like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, prominent Bay State Dems told the Globe Harris’s facetime in Massachusetts could be designed to help her in 2024 or beyond.
— Some Mass. Republicans not buying into the dire polls
Don’t tell Geoff Diehl’s supporters that Harris’s visit wasn’t a sign of desperation from Democrats worried about losing. GBH’s Adam Reilly talked with voters who support the Republican candidate for governor and believe, despite multiple public polls showing Diehl to be a double-digit underdog, that he’s going to win. These voters believe others like them are afraid of being shamed for supporting Diehl and are keeping their preferences to themselves. They also blame the media for cheerleading for Healey and trying to make her victory seem inevitable. Polls certainly have been wrong before.
— Healey didn’t always want to be governor. It just seemed that way.
Maura Healey burst on to the political scene in 2014. As an unknown assistant attorney general, she wasn’t supposed to stand a chance against Warren Tolman, a former state senator with a well-known name in Massachusetts politics who had the backing of people like Gov. Deval Patrick. And then she won. And from the day she became attorney general, Democrats have had their eye on Tuesday when they were sure…reasonably sure…she would one day become governor. In this pre-election profile from the Globe’s Matt Stout, Healey rebuts the idea that governor was always the office she aspired to, even if it seemed preordained.
— Old Irish battle lines surface in Boston’s redistricting debate
The Boston City Council approved a map with new district boundaries for the city’s elected councilors on Wednesday, moving what has been a contentious redistricting process closer to its conclusion. But not before Councilor Frank Baker accused one of his colleagues of being a Northern Irish protestant guilty of an assault on the city’s Catholic life. Yes, you read that correctly. The Dorchester Reporter’s Gintautas Dumcius has been following this debate closely and has all the details on yesterday’s debate, including the vote to send Mayor Michelle Wu a proposed map for her approval.
— Wu’s pay raise veto overridden by council
It was a busy day for Boston’s city council, which also approved pay raises for itself and the mayor over Boston Mayor Michelle Wu’s objection. The Herald’s Sean Philip Cotter reports that the council voted to override Wu’s veto of pay hikes, which exceeded the more moderate pay increases the mayor had been seeking. The one concession made by the council was agreeing to phase in the salary hikes over three years, rather than awarding the full bump to councilors in 2024 straight after the next election.
— Baker says he “freaked everyone out” with health care idea
Gov. Charlie Baker twice tried to get the Legislature to force health care providers and insurers to boost spending on primary, mental and behavioral health in what would have reshaped how the system prioritizes its dollars. But Baker said it “freaked everybody out,” and ultimately proved unsuccessful. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t the right thing to do, Baker said Wednesday, headlining the Health Policy Commission’s annual health care cost trends hearing. The hearing featured testimony and presentations from experts on the myriad challenges facing the health care system today, from consolidation and higher prices to staffing shortages after COVID-19. State House News Service’s Chris Lisinski has the coverage.
— Baker not interested in reopening Vineyard Wind bid
With Avangrid and Bay State utilities at odds over whether they should reopen contract negotiations over the purchase of power from the planned Vineyard Wind offshore development, Gov. Charlie Baker weighed in Thursday. The governor, who has staked a big part of his legacy on the advancement of the state’s offshore wind industry, said he would not mind if the contracts were adjusted to account for new economic conditions, but he does not want to see the state forced into restart the project procurement process because Vineyard Wind is no longer a viable project. CommonWealth Magazine’s Bruce Mohl has more on the situation and Baker’s take.
— Study suggests 62F refunds are over-inflated
Some of the checks are already in the mail. But a new analysis from the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center suggests the formula used to calculate “excess revenue” under the 1986 ballot law is flawed and the $3 billion in rebates going out to taxpayers is too high. Accordingly to Mass. Budget, the formula fails to account for how federal stimulus impacted economic output in 2021 and relies on incomplete wage and salary data that fails to account for the fact that total income as a share of the state’s economy has remained stable. MassLive’s Alison Kuznitz has more details from the report, which will surely become a reference point as lawmakers consider amending the 62F statute in the new session that starts in January.
— New ‘prosperity index’ ranks Bay State number one
Massachusetts has been deemed the most prosperous state in the country by the Milken Center for Advancing the American Dream, which unveiled a new index that measures not only financial wealth but 10 other metrics, Alejandra O’Connell-Domenech of The Hill reports. Massachusetts edged out Connecticut to top the list, and neighboring New Hampshire also ranked among the top 5 states.
— Fall River boosts outreach after dismantling homeless camp site
Fall River officials have cleared out a well-known homeless encampment from the city and stepped up outreach to those needing services as they look to avoid a repeat of last winter when a man froze to death at the Plymouth Avenue campsite, Jo C. Goode of the Herald-News reports.
— Next up: WPI graduate workers cast votes on joining union
Graduate student workers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester are voting this week on whether to form a union affiliated with the United Auto Workers, a vote that comes just weeks after their counterparts at Clark University secured their first union contract after a brief strike. The Worcester Business Journal’s Timothy Doyle has the details.
— Amherst police-youth encounter from July continues to vex council
The Amherst Town Council met for six hours Tuesday without coming to a consensus on how to move forward after a July incident in which some local youths say police told them they don’t have rights under the law because of their age, MassLive’s Jim Russell reports. The council rejected a plan to create a committee to examine the incident and instead directed the town manager to find a way forward.