9:30 a.m. | Boston Mayor Wu unveils her proposed fiscal year 2024 city budget and capital plan to the City Council. | Boston City Hall Plaza Pavilion
10 a.m. | Gov. Maura Healey attends a closed meeting of the Massachusetts Caucus of Women Legislators with Lt. Gov. Driscoll. | State House
11:15 a.m. | Gov. Maura Healey attends Massachusetts Agriculture Day at the State House, showcasing foods grown in the commonwealth. | Grand Staircase
Noon | House budget writers set to reveal their fiscal 2024 operating budget proposal.
2:30 p.m. | Gov. Maura Healey attends Governor's Council to Address Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, and Human Trafficking. | Room 157, State House
7 p.m. | Gov. Maura Healey participates in what U.S. Sen. Warren described as the first town hall event of her 2024 reelection campaign. | Hibernian Hall, 184 Dudley St. #200, Roxbury
Lawmakers are making clear that tackling affordable housing will be front and center in the annual House budget — due out today.
House budget writers have committed to the revival of a pandemic-era renter protection law that would bar landlords from evicting financially strapped tenants who have applied for rental assistance.
It expired last month and the eviction notices are on the wall, so to speak. Filings have continued to climb in Boston and across the state.
But one lingering question: to what degree will the House budget fund public housing in a state advocates claim has left the tax-payer-funded housing stock massively under-resourced for years.
Advocates, led by the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization, are asking state officials to double last year’s public housing spend to $184 million. Gov. Maura Healey’s budget level-funded the services.
GBIO organizer Alaa Eldamaty said it means “there isn’t enough money to properly maintain” public housing units that are rapidly falling into disrepair.
Public housing, funded by both the state and federal government, accounts for more than a quarter of the state’s roughly 300,000 total affordable homes, and often serves the poorest and most challenged citizens, state Department of Housing and Community Development stats show.
But much of the World War II-era state-funded public housing units are falling apart. Conditions are so bad that advocates plan to lobby lawmakers later this session for an $8.5 billion capital improvement fund bill alongside their request to double operating funds in this year’s budget.
Brookline Public Housing Authority tenant Carlos Tamayo, a local activist and tenant rights advocate said, “we try to make it nice,” as he lifted up kitchen floor tiles that had become completely detached from the floor board in his apartment.
From cockroaches to repeat leaks to broken vents to a bathroom door that can’t quite clear the toilet to close, the Tamayo’s apartment tells a story of many aging apartments across the state’s 240 public housing authorities, said Brookline Housing Authority Executive Director Michael Alperin.
If the state can’t adequately fund maintenance “it stands to lose valuable affordable housing to a state of disrepair,” he said.
Still, despite the maintenance headaches and sanitary issues, waitlists for public housing can stretch 10 years, highlighting the need, said Joel Wool, chief of staff for Boston Housing Authority.
Other items to watch for in the House budget include :
- Free community college for Bay Staters over 25 without degrees
- Eviction protections, in addition to the investment in public housing
- Free school meals – with the question of how to sustain the funding and other food assistance increases left to another day, or year.
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MBTA watch 🚇
Days since the last derailment, fire, crash, falling debris, or critical incident: 0
Days with localized speed restrictions: 33
Days without “normal” weekday subway service: 294
On Jan. 5, Gov. Healey pledged to hire a new MBTA Transportation Safety Chief within 60 days. It has now been 98 days without the position being filled.
A plan of their own: House unveils its own version of tax relief
House lawmakers revealed a plan for $1.1 billion in annual tax cuts that would play out over the next three years, including a slash in the capital gains rate and estate taxes that mirror those already pitched by Gov. Maura Healey.
A major piece of the House’s new tax relief plan would change a tax cap law that dictates how the state returns excess revenue to taxpayers, writes Ross Cristantiello for Boston.com. The House would make returns equitable across all taxpayers, rather than higher returns for those paying higher income taxes.
The Boston Herald | State House News Service | Boston.com
But budget chiefs are still keeping a close eye on state finances as they consider relief for taxpayers. Some maintain concerns that the economy could be slipping into a “slow recession” even as tax revenue collections continue to come in above this year’s fairly conservative benchmarks.
Boston bids farewell to civil rights legend Mel King
Friends, colleagues, family and admirers crowded into the South End’s Union United Methodist Church to bid farewell to Melvin “Mel” Herbert King on Tuesday in a nearly four-hour ceremony that attempted to capture the life and legacy of a Boston legend, writes Alexi Cohan for GBH. King was honored by hundreds Bostonians from every corner of the city during his funeral services.
WBUR | The Boston Globe | GBH
MBTA welcomes new chief with multiple derailments
MBTA officials quietly responded to two derailments by maintenance vehicles during the first two days of the new general manager’s tenure, writes Gayla Cawley of The Boston Herald. The derailments happened on back-to-back days on the Blue and Red Lines, an MBTA spokesperson said. Phillip Eng, the former Long Island Rail Road, took the helm at the T on Monday, officially.
Debate brewing over ‘professional status’ that grants job security to veteran teachers, but may limit diversity
Increased diversity among teachers in classrooms across the state could mean consequences for long-standing job protections for veteran educators, writes James Vaznis for The Boston Globe. It’s a trade-off that has sparked controversy and drawn opposition from the state’s largest teachers’ unions as lawmakers debate a legislative solution on Beacon Hill. The bill would give superintendents and principals greater discretion to protect novice teachers during a layoff if they are part of an underrepresented demographic group or qualify for one of several other exemptions.
Oops: Boston Public Schools misses mark on exam-school placement
In a Tuesday-night email to parents, Boston Public Schools told the parents of wannabe exam-school students that neither BPS nor an outside auditor initially caught the error in how seventh-grade eligibility is calculated. Invitations are still on track to be out in early May, but BPS is checking GPAs for 9th and 10th-grade admissions as well, writes Universal Hub
Lieutenant gov hopes for ‘quick’ filling of housing post
The timeline for installing the state’s first-ever housing secretary is getting bumped up — slightly. Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll on Tuesday told officials that the Healey administration is planning to fill the new post “in a quick manner” after it becomes “available” later this month. She initially targeted a date closer to the beginning of the fiscal year, writes Sam Doran for State House News Service.
Rural Massachusetts schools get extra transportation dollars
Gov. Maura Healey has proposed a bump in funding for transportation at rural schools in her fiscal year 2024 budget, but it still falls short of the state’s long-promised full funding for regional school districts.
Boston budget clocks in at nearly $4.3 billion
Boston Mayor Michelle Wu will unveil her $4.28 billion city budget proposal for fiscal year 2024 budget at an annual budget breakfast today at City Hall, writes The Boston Herald’s Gayla Cawley. It represents a 6.8%, or $273.7 million increase over last year’s spending.
The Boston Globe | The Boston Herald
Mass. spending millions monthly to shore up failing shelter system
The state’s shelters for homeless families are overwhelmed, stymied by a lack of affordable housing and a surge of migration that’s costing taxpayers, writes a two-reporter team at The Globe.
A budget bill Gov. Maura Healey signed last month to pump $85 million into the shelter system is likely to cover little more than half a year of costs, they said.
Guanci departs Beverly mayor’s race after social media revelations
Just days after announcing his bid for mayor of Beverly, Paul Guanci said he will drop out of the race after posts from his now-deleted Twitter account became public, Paul Leighton of the Salem News reports. After the newspaper turned up screen shots of his past posts, Guanci acknowledged he posted or liked “immature, insensitive and inappropriate comments” and that it would be “irresponsible” for him to continue his run.
Bring your own: Sales of nip bottles of booze banned across Martha’s Vineyard
Town meeting voters in both Edgartown and Oak Bluffs have approved bans on the sales of single-serving bottles of booze, meaning the entire island will be nip-bottle-free-zone when the bans take effect next May, Abigail Rosen of the MV Times reports.
Bring it back: Springfield asks Baker to steer big-time hoops back
They see an opportunity. With former governor Charlie Baker now running the NCAA, state Rep. Angelo Puppolo and other Springfield officials are calling for him to help return the annual Tip-Off Classic game to the home of the basketball hall of fame. Springfield hosted the games for nearly 30 years before and local officials want the event and its hotel-packing crowds back again.
Worcester council makes history with inclusionary zoning vote
A divided Worcester City Council has approved the city’s first inclusionary zoning bylaw, requiring 15 percent of new building projects with 12 or more units be set aside for lower income residents. Kiernan Dunlop of MassLive reports the council disappointed housing advocates, who pushed for a more restrictive bylaw than the one put forward by city leaders.
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