8:30 | Gov. Healey attends MassBio's annual Policy Leadership Breakfast and gives the closing remarks around 10:10 a.m | Rooftop Ballroom, Omni Parker House Hotel, 60 School St., Boston
9:00 | Education advocacy groups host a hybrid forum on the future of public higher education finance in Massachusetts. | UMass Club, One Beacon St., Boston
11:00 | Representatives from the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Animal Rescue League of Boston, the Humane Society of the United States, and Animal Legal Defense Fund will gather to promote animal protection legislation | Grand Staircase
3:00 | Governor meets with children and parent volunteers from Mothers Out Front to talk about climate justice, according to the advocacy organization. The advocates plan to deliver a letter "asking for Massachusetts to be a leader in creating a livable climate for all children." Climate Chief Melissa Hoffer and Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Rebecca Tepper are also expected to attend | Outside Governor's Suite
5:45 | Massachusetts Women's Political Caucus holds its annual meeting at the Old South Meeting House, "discussing what we learned in 2022, highlighting successful strategies from this election cycle, and sharing priorities for 2023." | 310 Washington St., Boston
7:00 | Boston Mayor Wu delivers her first State of the City Address since taking office in November 2021. | MGM Music Hall at Fenway, 2 Lansdowne St., Boston | Livestream
Try to solve gun violence, and you take away people’s rights. Try to solve global warming, and you take away people’s jobs. Try to solve hunger, and you take away people’s … hunger.
That’s the policysetting mystery behind the food-insecurity issue. Nearly every societal gain involves someone losing something or giving something up. But with a Wendy’s on every corner, in a society where food stores feature 37 different kinds of Greek yogurt — this is a food environment where there’s clearly enough to go around. And yet not enough IS going around.
There may not be sufficient wealth in America, or Massachusetts, to generate a living wage for every family — a living wage defined as the income needed to afford basics like housing, education, health care — and food. That’s a different conversation.
But what’s baffling, and disturbing, about the food issue is there’s darn well enough food in Massachusetts to go around, and yet it isn’t going around, at least not sufficiently. Food insecurity jumped during the pandemic, and an estimated 10 percent of the state’s residents are uncertain whether they’ll have enough to eat in a given week. About 14 percent of Massachusetts children live with food insecurity daily. Those are among the lowest rates in the country, but still — 10 percent? 700,000 people? Daily? College students going hungry on Massachusetts campuses? It’s a problem of distribution, not supply – of education, outreach, community building and justice.
The issue grows in visibility and volume on Beacon Hill every day, as evidenced by the long list of sponsors at today’s MASSterList policy event, spearheaded by the Greater Boston Food Bank. Attendees at the forum will see some of the nodes of a network that is working city halls and State House corridors and the halls of Congress to roll back a scourge that ought to be diminishing, not growing, in a time of comparative plenty.
The forum begins at 8:15 am at 10 Winter Pl. in Boston.
Hunger’s not a new issue at the State House, but it’s newly urgent, and emergent. Rep. Hannah Kane spoke out on the problem in 2018, and she’ll speak on it at today’s forum.
Billion-dollar guessing game: hearing keys in on Millionaire’s Tax
Uncertainty. Volatility. New and unfamiliar billion dollar wild cards. These were some of the watchwords yesterday as the state’s leading tax-revenue estimating experts appeared before the officials who will create the fiscal 2004 state budget for Massachusetts, and gave their best guesses as to what to expect for state revenue as the fiscal planning process begins in earnest.
Emphasis on “guesses:” With a new state surtax on millionaires generating new revenue, but inflation, interest rate hikes, declining consumer spending and other factors conspiring to suppress economic activity, this is a tough year to estimate how much wealth taxpayers will generate this next fiscal cycle.
But the governor’s budget office and the chairs of the Ways and Means committees have to do just that, and they took two hours of guidance in a State House hearing yesterday. With tax cuts in play and a huge new tax hike on millionaires raising the prospect of improvements in education but also the specter of successful people fleeing the Bay State the State House press corps was very very interested in yesterday’s ruminations.
As predicted in this space Monday, the overarching message was one of caution. Much attention was paid to the revenue from the new Millionaire’s Tax, so-called; state Revenue Commissioner Geoffery Snyder told the lawmakers his department expects $1.4 million in additional income from that new tax, which is statutorily set aside for education and transportation. As to revenues generally, there was little quarrel with Sanchez’s contention that the state’s take will rise modestly, about 1.5 percent, to around $40 billion, in the bookkeeping year ending June 30, 2024.
Some of the most salient questions of the day were answered in the post-hearing press scrum by, from left, Senate Ways and Means Chair Michael Rodrigues, House Ways and Means Chair Aaron Michlewitz, and Administration and Finance Secretary Matthew Gorzkowicz . A couple of highlights of that exchange: the legislators are clearly open to, and internally discussing, changes in the law that triggered the recent $3 billion in rebates to Mass. taxpayers. And they say they remain committed to using the revenue from the high-income surtax for new spending on education and transportation.
Healey to press on with push for bridge money – and look hard at cost
A day after news broke that federal officials turned down the state’s bid for money to start on the Allston Multimodal Project, Gov. Healey was asked her view of another 9-figure project also hung up by Washington unwillingness to provide startup funds. Healey said she’s strongly behind renewing the state’s efforts to lobby for money to design and construct replacements for the Bourne and Sagamore bridges. “I’ve talked to Congressman Lynch, I’ve talked to other members of the delegation, I’m very interested in looking at the numbers and looking at what’s possible and certainly want to put our best foot forward so that we’re doing everything we can to secure the federal funding and assistance that we need for an incredibly important infrastructure in this state,” the governor told reporters.
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Reality Check: Bill would require disclosure of salary ranges in Mass.
Among the thousands of bills that get filed at the start of session every two years, a few always catch the civic sphere’s collective eye, aided by canny outreach to journalists perhaps, or just the vagaries of timing. Cachet is by no means proportionate to chances of success. That said, one such trendy measure this year this year would boost the standing of job seekers by requiring employers of 15 or more to publish the salary range of all new job postings – protecting applicants from disillusionment deep into the hiring process, and also allowing women and ethnic minorities to safeguard their interest in equitable outcomes. Alison Kunitz of Masslive is one of those on the story.
Leung calls South Station out for locking out the poor
Globe columnist Shirley Leung traveled to South Station to fact-check MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo’s claim that the homeless are not being tossed out of the train station during cold winter nights. She watched security guards put up a sign saying the station was closed between 12 am and 5 am, and tie the doors shut. She gives the details, and quotes Dr. Jim O’Connell, who makes it his business to look out for the interests of the homeless. “Places where people who are real street folks can go are getting fewer and fewer as time goes on,” O’Connell said. “The net result is it’s really hard, we think, for some of the very vulnerable street folks to find a safe place to be at night other than outside on the sidewalk.”
Battenfield wants Justice for Riley, as in punishment
It took the Herald about four and half minutes after the arraignment of Riley Dowell to question whether the daughter of a congresswoman, to wit the powerful Katherine Clark, can really be held to account. Joe Battenfield’s theory: Nope.
Alarming: Globe finds insufficient progress on Capitol panic buttons
Jess Bidgood and Lissandra Villa de Petrzelka of the Globe look into a lapse in response to the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection: many congressional offices still do not have working panic buttons – the sort of device that probably will never be used and yet, sad to say, makes a lot of sense. There’s a prissy little “we won’t describe this in detail” line that would have been better off in parathensises, and if your sympahy for Congress is, shall we say, bounded, the story might not land right with with you, but nevertheless this is actually no laughing matter, a cool if scary topic, and we’ll look forward to the “progress has been made” followup.
Taunton’s O’Connell takes a bow after city credit rating boost
The local business community is cheering and Mayor Shauna O’Connell is taking a bow after Standard & Poors gave the city its highest credit rating ever, Daniel Schemer of the Taunton Daily Gazette reports. O’Connell is citing the fiscal management and pro-growth policies she brought to office when first elected three years ago with helping the city land a credit rating higher than many of its neighbors.
Dig it: Consultants plan for Worcester tree planting could cost $20 million
A consultant’s report that suggests Worcester plant 34,000 trees in coming years to replace lost tree canopy and help keep residents cool as the climate heats up could cost as much as $20 million to implement. The Telegram’s Henry Schwan has the details.
That’s confusing: Great Barrington parking tickets come from Plymouth County
Why are mailed parking citations issued in Great Barrington–some as long as six years ago–now turning up in violators’ mailboxes bearing the seal of Plymouth County? The Berkshire Eagle’s Heather Bellow explains the town outsourced some of its ticket processing to the Eastern Massachusetts county amid a pandemic labor shortage. Local officials are reassuring residents the tickets are not a scam.
Despite attention, New Bedford election draws meager turnout
A City Council preliminary election in New Bedford that sparked extensive local media attention and was accompanied by a push from local officials to drive voters in the diverse district to the polls drew fewer than 7 percent of eligible voters on Tuesday. The New Bedford Light’s Arthur Hirsch reports Shawn Oliver and Carmen Amaral emerged from the seven-candidate field and will face off at the end of February to fill the seat of former councilor Hugh Dunn, who resigned last month.
Coming soon: North Attleboro mall could be latest converted to housing
Officials in North Attleboro say a developer could go public soon with a plan to convert the anchor-store part of the Emerald Square Mall, formerly a Sears, into a mixed-use development emphasizing housing. As the Sun-Chronicle’s George Rhodes notes, the mall would be just the latest across the state to undergo the transformation from shops to residences.
Attleboro Sun Chronicle