10 a.m. | Massachusetts Gaming Commission resumes its review of the six applications it received for mobile sports betting licenses that will not be tied to an existing casino or slots parlor.
10:30 a.m. | Fiscal Alliance Foundation and polling company Advantage Inc. release the results of a statewide poll of likely Massachusetts general election voters on their opinions of the president, Healey and several tax policies.
2 p.m. | Gov. Maura Healey meets with Senate President Karen Spilka and Speaker Ron Mariano in the Governor's Office for the first joint meeting between the three leaders. A press conference will follow.
4:30 p.m. | Suffolk County District Attorney Kevin Hayden is inaugurated for his first full term. Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Kim Budd administers the oath, and former Gov. Charlie Baker is expect to speak.
Senate President Karen Spilka and Gov. Maura Healey in speeches last week both highlighted their desire to make community college free for at least some students, but a question remains about how expansive such an initiative should be.
Healey, in her inaugural address, said her first budget would create and fund a new program called MassReconnect to pay the cost of community college for students over 25 who don’t already have a college degree. The governor also said she wanted to invest more in early college opportunities and to lower the cost of state universities for all students.
Spilka, in separate interviews over the weekend as she made the Sunday talk show rounds, said she doesn’t know why Healey has proposed a cut off, but would prefer to see a broader effort to eliminate tuition and fees for community college students.
“I believe we should open it up to all students,” Spilka told WBZ’s Jon Keller, who also writes a column for MASSterList.
Spilka said the Senate’s early estimate is that it would cost $50 million to cover all tuition and fees at the state’s community colleges, which seems like a relatively low number given the roughly $50 billion state budget. Healey did not put a price tag on her plan. The Ashland Democrat further suggested that money from the newly passed “millionaire’s tax” could be used to pay for her plan.
“I believe we have the funding,” Spilka told Ed Harding and Sharman Sacchetti on WCVB’s On the Record.
Higher education could be just one of the topics on the agenda this afternoon when Healey welcomes Spilka and House Speaker Ron Mariano to her office for the first simultaneous sit down among the three leaders, continuing a long-followed tradition on Beacon Hill of semi-regular weekly leadership meetings.
Spilka, who administered the oath of office to Healey last Thursday, called it “very momentous” to have an all-woman executive team in the corner office and said she looks forward to working with the new governor.
While legislation criminalizing “revenge porn” fell short on the final night of the session, Spilka said she was an early supporter of the bill. She cited civil rights concerns and questions about how to make sure youth can be properly supported and not necessarily prosecuted as complications.
She also left the door open to the Massachusetts Teachers Association’s push to allow teachers to strike, but said keeping kids in the classroom is her top priority. She also said she was open to alternatives to high-stakes MCAS testing for some students.
“I believe that we should have more alternatives to testing than just the MCAS for certain students,” Spilka said.
BUSINESS CONFIDENCE FALLS: Businesses in Massachusetts remain optimistic about the economy to start the year, but not as positive as they were a month ago as high interest rates continue to present concerns about future growth.
Business confidence tumbled some in December losing 4.7 points last month to sit at 54 to start the year, according to the Associated Industries of Massachusetts Business Confidence Index. This follows a jump of nearly eight points in November.
The group said employers remain concerned about the reliance of central banks on increasing interest rates to slow moderate inflation, and how the labor supply continues to present hiring challenges.
“The path to 2 percent inflation will inevitably be painful. Most economists forecast a recession in the first half of 2023, led by declines in residential investment, commercial construction, inventory investment, and consumer spending on goods,” said Sara Johnson, chair of the AIM Board of Economic Advisors.
— Healey’s personal life the talk of the town
The column everyone is talking about. A day after her inauguration, Healey sat down with the Globe’s Yvonne Abraham to introduce her partner Joanne Lydgate. Healey, of course, made history as the first woman to be elected governor of Massachusetts and the first openly lesbian governor in the country (Oregon’s Tina Kotek gets sworn in today as the second). But she talked very little about her personal life on the campaign trail. Healey and Lydgate met in the Attorney General’s office, and Healey said that while she chose a public career not everyone in her life signed up for the spotlight. Healey also earned headlines after her election victory for not disclosing that she had moved to Cambridge after living for a time in Boston’s South End following a split from her former partner. Abraham’s column is the first glimpse at the new first family.
— COVID is surging back, but times have changed
The start of the third winter with COVID-19 has looked a little different than the past two as people have returned to a greater extent to doing the things they used to. There have been holiday office parties and social gatherings. Masks are seen less frequently and bouts with COVID are treated more like other illnesses that sideline you for a few days. But with COVID-19 rates again on the rise, as the Herald’s Rick Sobey reports, some schools are again asking students to mask up. Senate President Karen Spilka over the weekend even suggested she wouldn’t be surprised to see more people told to wear facial coverings at the State House again. WBUR’s Priyanka Dayal McCluskey looks at the state of pandemic play in Massachusetts, from rising infection rates to overcrowded hospitals and why this winter is not like the two before it.
— Calls grow for House to seat Democrats declared winners
House Speaker Ron Mariano has not given a deadline to a new legislative panel tasked with reviewing the results of two elections decided by margins so narrow they went to automatic recounts. But on the North Shore, Democrats are calling the reluctance of the House leader to seat Kristin Kassner after her one-vote victory over Republican incumbent Lenny Mirra a “blow to democracy.” The Eagle-Tribune’s Christian Wade has more.
— Boston branding itself on rival turf
The Boston Business Journal’s Grant Welker reports that Boston is taking its new tagline – Boston Never Gets Old – to rival East Coast cities. The marketing campaign is popping up on billboards and ads from New York and Philadelphia to Washington, D.C., playfully playing to each locale’s interests.
— A local face from the Jan. 6 riot
The Globe’s Hannah Krueger and Spencer Buell explore how one local doctor got caught up in the Jan. 6 uprising at the Capitol and how took her friends and colleagues by surprise.
— Farming in Massachusetts not what it used to be
Getting compared to New Jersey will most likely send a shiver down most Bay Staters spines. But that’s exactly what Wally Cziakowski, a vegetable farmer in Hadley, did in this interesting piece in CommonWealth Magazine exploring the ways climate change has put added stresses on local farms. From dealing with droughts to higher average temperatures, Linda Enerson writes that maintaining healthy crops these days requires more than just hard work. It also requires a little luck. “We’ve basically got New Jersey’s weather now,” he said.
— Heroux acknowledges “blindspot” after jail suicide
New Bristol County Sheriff Paul Heroux went on New Bedford local radio where he discussed the recent suicide of an inmate at the Dartmouth House of Correction and what he called a “blindspot” in the system he hopes to address. “We have a blindspot somewhere, and we’re going to need somebody else to help us figure out what that is,” Heroux said. The issues of suicide among individuals in detention was a campaign issue for Heroux, and Marcus Ferro reports that Heroux’s tone deviates from that of his predecessor Thomas Hodgson who insisted the sheriff’s office was already doing all it could to prevent suicides.
— Hard no: Hardwick residents vote down horse racing plan
Voters in Hardwick defeated a referendum that asked whether the town should host a $20 million thoroughbred horse breeding and training facility that also could have become the new home of live racing in the state. MassLive’s Jim Russell reports voters defeated the question by a margin of 830 to 312 and that the team behind the project says it will take some time to consider whether to try again to win local approval.
— Long road ahead for city dreams in Saugus
Saugus Select Board Chairman Anthony Cogliano thinks the time has come to ditch town meeting and become the latest Bay State community to embrace a city form of government. As Charlie McKenna of the Item reports, Cogliano hopes to see Saugus elect its first mayor in 2025, but a lengthy and likely contentious charter-change and home-rule process stands in the way.
— UMass Memorial shelves plan to merge with Gardner hospital
A planned merger between UMass Memorial Health and Heywood Healthcare has been called off with the parties citing the financial struggles of the health care sector in the decision to move away from the tie-up. The Telegram’’s Henry Schwan has the details.
— Attleboro special mayoral election will be a sprint, not a marathon
Four potential candidates have emerged as Attleboro prepares for a Feb. 28 special election to elect a successor to former Mayor Paul Heroux. The hopefuls now have less than eight weeks to win over voters. The Sun Chronicle’s George Rhodes reports the election is the first of its kind in the city’s history and that the city will do the whole thing over again in November.
Meanwhile, one would-be mayoral hopeful has already been ruled out of the race: Election officials told Spooky the cat he could not pull papers because he was neither a registered voter nor the minimum 18 years old.