happening today:

8:30 a.m. | Department of Elementary and Secondary Education hosts the annual Student Government Day at the State House. The day is meant to give high school students "an immersive experience in the state legislative process. | State House

11 a.m. | Joint Ways and Means Committee holds public hearing on Gov. Healey's $55.5 billion fiscal year 2024 budget, the Cannabis Control Commission and more. | Cruiseport Gloucester, 6 Rowe Sq., Gloucester

Noon | Mayor Wu joins Boston Public Schools and Read to a Child leadership to read "My Very Favorite Book in the Whole Wide World" to first graders. | Mildred Avenue K-8 School, 5 Mildred Ave, Mattapan

3 p.m. | Lt. Gov. Driscoll attends Opening Day of the WooSox. | 100 Madison St, Worcester

5 p.m. | Former U.S. labor secretary and Boston mayor Martin Walsh, now the head of the NHL Players Association, is expected to join Bloomberg BayState Business for a half-hour segment. | WRCA-AM 1330/FM 106.1

The biggest missing persons mysteries facing police departments in Massachusetts and across the nation have to do with their own officers.

Staffing shortages have reached “crisis levels,” taxing departments and driving up overtime budgets.

Joe Gamaldi, a Houston, Texas police sergeant and national vice president for the Fraternal Order of Police, said the United States is “in the midst of one of the worst staffing crises we’ve ever seen in law enforcement.”

The FOP represents over 350,000 police nationwide.

In Boston, the police commissioner is predicting a dearth of at least 220 police officers heading into the busy summer season.

Massachusetts State Police are about 500 staffers short of the 2,700 a recent study, officials said.

The lack of law enforcement workers comes as Massachusetts faces a generalized labor shortage. There are currently about 115,000 more job openings than unemployed workers, state Department of Economic Research data show. And the problem is growing as The Bay State has lost tens of thousands of workers to other states and Baby Boomers head for retirement early. 

Worker shortages are also growing in other in other industries like nursing, corrections and at the MBTA — where employees were also on the front lines of the pandemic, working long hours and exposed to deadly health risks.

But law enforcement experts like Gamaldi say the loss of the police has to do with a decade or more of “anti-police rhetoric” in society.

State Police, for example, have seen the number of civil service exam applicants drop from 14,314 in 2013 to 4,744 in 2023.

The staffing crunch has led to record-high spending on overtime — stymying efforts to heed calls to “defund the police” in cities like Boston, where officials have typically opened annual budget discussions with an eye toward slashing spending.

Boston Police overtime hit $78.3 million in 2022 — more than the previous department record of $78.1 million in 2020 when the city was coping with a year marred by the pandemic and protests, city records show.

Last year, city councilors and the mayor had budgeted just under $44 million for overtime.

The State Police overtime budget tells a similar story. Troopers collected $65 million in overtime pay during the last fiscal year, up from $51.5 million the year before, state records show.

When it comes to solutions, State Police Association of Massachusetts President Patrick McNamara says he has one.

A bill that would mean “equal pay for equal work” includes incentives for education among troopers, doling out a 10% pay boost for those with an associate’s degree, 20% for a bachelor’s up to a 25% jump for those with a master’s or law degree, according to a SPAM summary.

But the issue is more complicated on the municipal level, where many departments already offer education incentives to officers.

MBTA watch 🚇

Days since the last derailment, fire, falling debris, or critical incident: 9

Days with localized speed restrictions: 21

Days without “normal” weekday subway service: 282

On Jan. 5, Gov. Healey pledged to hire a new MBTA Transportation Safety Chief within 60 days. It has now been 85 days without the position being filled.

‘Consistently corrupt’: Massachusetts delegation wastes no time condemning Trump amid indictment

Massachusetts Democrats in Congress took to Twitter and social media on Thursday night, wasting no time to condemn the actions of former President Donald Trump leading to his historic indictment. A Manhattan grand jury voted to charge Trump, a Republican, in an alleged hush-money scheme involving a porn star in the closing days of the 2016 presidential campaign. Local politicians and personalities also weighted in.

The Boston Globe | MassLive

A plan of his own: House speaker ready to dole out his version of tax relief

Speaker of the House Ron Mariano said his chamber plans to unveil and debate a “comprehensive” tax relief package of its own in the next few weeks, designed to make Massachusetts more affordable for its residents, writes Chris Lisinski for State House News Service. It’s setting up the first big face off between the newly elected governor, Maura Healey and her Democratic Legislature.

State House News | The Boston Globe

A plan to provide free community college to Bay Staters over 25 who don’t yet have degrees will mirror one laid out in Healey’s version of a tax cut bill, Mariano said.


Boston Mayor Wu wins big victory in COVID vax ruling

The state’s high court handed a big victory to Boston Mayor Michelle Wu when it ruled in favor of the city in the battle over its COVID-19 mandate, throwing out the preliminary injunction against the Wu administration and clearing the way for future versions of such policies, writes Sean Phillip Cotter for The Boston Herald.

The Boston Herald

Union bell: Resident assistants push to organize at many Northeast colleges and universities

Student resident assistants and house managers who help manage dorms and student life in the residence halls at Boston University, Tufts and Mount Holyoke are joining forces to unionize, joining a growing number of dorm supervisors who say their responsibilities have ballooned with little coinciding increase in compensation, writes the Globe’s Diti Kohli. Undergrad RAs at the University of Massachusetts Amherst formed a union in 2002, but the latest push comes following the COVID pandemic.

The Boston Globe

By the numbers: Bay State population shrinks by nearly 8,000

Nearly 57,0000 fled Massachusetts between the summer of 2021 and 2022 — and Massachusetts has a “declining labor force and shrinking working age population” and needs to focus on competitiveness issues in the areas of housing, transportation, and high costs relative to other states.

State House News Service | The Eagle Tribune

Smoke free: Vaping, stress a focus at Kids Kick Butts day

The the first in-person “Kick Butts Day” since 2019, student leaders and public officials with a youth anti-smoking program emphasized how nicotine use can relate to stress, and looped in mental health care as a priority. The event is sponsored by The 84 network, a Department of Public Health program with over 50 local chapters in middle schools, high schools, and community groups, and says it also “uses a racial justice lens to understand and address tobacco-related inequities.”

State House News Service

Warren, Hale to address undergrads

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Granite Telecommunications co-founder and philanthropist Rob Hale will send off 3,800 UMasss Boston students as the graduation speakers when they receive their degrees on May 25. The university announced its commencement ceremony lineup on Wednesday, along with plans to hold its Class of 2023 graduation on the harborside campus for the first time since May 2019.

State House News Service

No surprises: Beacon Hill power brokers amass largest war chests

When it comes to campaign coffers, its the lawmakers at the top of the power ladder who have the biggest account balances. At the top of the heap, besting his 157 colleagues, is House Ways and Means Chairman Aaron Michlewitz, writes Sam Doran for State House News Service. The North End Democrat is seen as a leading contender for the speakership in a future leadership election, and if his fundraising keeps pace, he will likely become the Legislature’s million-dollar man when the March numbers come in.

State House News Service

Shut down: Regulators order Athol dispensary to close over owner’s behavior 

Elev8 Cannabis in Athol has been closed down by the Cannabis Control Commission, which said the shop’s owner posed “an immediate or serious threat to the public health, safety, or welfare,” the Recorder’s Max Bowen reports. Seun Adedeji, who owns cannabis dispensaries in multiple states and had approval to open two more Bay State stores, was arrested last October by local police and more recently posted a series of videos in which the CCC found he threatened employees.

The Recorder

Harvard reveals admission data as Supreme Court mulls Affirmative Action case 

Harvard College says it accepted 3.41 percent of the applicants for the class entering this fall, a slight increase from last year’s record-low level. The class of 2027 will also includes the highest percentage of Asian American students in the schools history–even as the U.S. Supreme Court mulls a landmark Affirmative Action case that claims the school discriminates against those applicants. 

The Crimson

Brain drain: Wellfleet says turnover helped fuel $4 million budget shortfall \

Officials in Wellfleet are urging voters to back a $4 million worth of Proposition 2 ½ overrides and debt exclusions next month and say the town’s financial crisis was driven largely by a surge in staff turnover that drained decades of institutional memory from Town Hall. The Cape Cod Times’ Denise Coffey has the details.

The Cape Cod Times

Seekonk will ask town meeting whether to do away with town meeting 

After years of unsuccessful efforts to update the town charter, Seekonk is asking voters to give leadership some direction, with next week’s town meeting to take up four non-binding questions about whether to ditch open town meeting in favor of a town council or even mayoral setups, the Sun-Chronicle’s Stephen Peterson reports.

The Sun Chroncile

Weekend political and policy talk shows

Keller@Large | 8:30 a.m. Sunday | WBZ-TV | Political analyst Jon Keller interviews Steve Tolman, president Mass AFL-CIO, discussing labor’s ongoing battle with Uber & Lyft over driver employee status, the bill to allow teacher strikes, and Auditor DiZoglio’s pursuit of a legislative audit.

On The Record | 11 a.m. Sunday | WCVB-TV | State Auditor Diana DiZoglio is the guest for WCVB’s On The Record this weekend.. Ed Harding and Sharman Sacchetti host. Democratic Political Analyst Mary Anne Marsh and Republican Political Analyst Andrew Goodrich join the roundtable discussion.

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MASSterList editor Erin Tiernan is an award-winning reporter who brings a decade's worth of experience covering state and local politics from the halls of the State House to city streets. Her work can be found in The Boston Herald, The Patriot Ledger, MassLive and Wicked Local. She was the New England Newspaper and Press Association's 2019 Reporter of the Year.