10 a.m. | Boston Mayor Michelle Wu and Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley celebrate the groundbreaking for the last phase of the Flat 9 Whittier Public Housing development. The project replaces and preserves 200 public housing apartments and creates an additional 309 new units. | 100 Cabot St., Roxbury
11 a.m. | Gov. Maura Healey gives the keynote speech at the inauguration of new UMass Lowell Chancellor Julie Chen. | Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell, 300 Arcand Dr., Lowell
11:30 a.m. | Boston Mayor Michelle Wu addresses public safety and other preparations for the 127th Boston Marathon on Monday alongside the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency and Boston Athletic Association. | Boston Marathon Fan Fest Stage, Copley Square Park, 560 Boylston St., Boston
12:45 a.m. | Gov. Maura Healey will tour Chelmsford High School and make an announcement on the expansion of the Innovation Career Pathways program. | Chelmsford High School, 200 Richardson Rd., Chelmsford
Massachusetts farmers and fishermen put their skill at tending crops to work in the halls of the State House yesterday, where instead of planting fruits or vegetables, they looked to sow seeds of action.
Lawmakers who attended Agriculture Day on Wednesday found choice cuts of legislation peppered in among the copious samples of local cheeses, vegetables, oysters, maple syrup and more brought by growers and harvesters from around the state — a visible reminder that farmers in Massachusetts need more support from Beacon Hill.
This year’s annual event aligned with the House leadership’s big budget reveal, putting a face to some of the programs lawmakers are considering funding in their $55.6 billion spending plan for the upcoming fiscal year that starts July 1.
Housing, transportation and education investments grabbed the budget spotlight, but Massachusetts Food System Collaborative Executive Director Winton Pitcoff said local farmers are in need of support, too.
Mass. farmers earn just 94 cents on average for every dollar they spend producing food, he said. Despite the net loss farmers are still producing for local economies, state data show, employing more than 28,000 workers and generating nearly $500 million annually statewide.
Pitcoff and local growers are lobbying to make permanent a pandemic-era Food Security Infrastructure Grant program they say can help cut costs for strapped farmers.
Gov. Maura Healey included $25 million for the program in her budget, which was mirrored in the House budget released Wednesday. If passed, it would mean the first time the program sees funding in the annual budget.
In 2020, more than 1,300 applicants from 314 cities and towns made requests for nearly $202 million in needed investment, state records show.
Pitcoff’s organization is also directly lobbying for eight bills. There are dozens of bills dealing with the full spectrum of local food systems this session.
Massachusetts is home to over 7,200 farms yet barely 2% are owned or operated by farmers of color — that’s in a state where Black and brown residents make up 29% of the population.
“It’s a real statistic. Think of the missed economic activity. The food struggles to get into those communities,” said Norris Giuscott, an advocate with the Collaborative and an amateur farmer in his own right.
Another bill (S.85/H.150) asks for $24 million for the Healthy Incentives Program, which provides extra cash to SNAP households to buy fresh fruits and vegetables from local farmers. It would also help “bridge the gap” created by another expiring pandemic-era program that boosted benefits but ran out last month, Pitcoff said.
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MBTA watch 🚇
Days since the last derailment, fire, crash, falling debris, or critical incident: 1
Days with localized speed restrictions: 34
Days without “normal” weekday subway service: 295
On Jan. 5, Gov. Healey pledged to hire a new MBTA Transportation Safety Chief within 60 days. It has now been 99 days without the position being filled.
Big spend: House pitches $56.2B budget, highlights differences in spending priorities
House leaders unveiled their $56.2 billion state budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year on Wednesday, boosting investments in education, transportation, housing and more and highlighting key differences in spending priorities with Gov. Maura Healey. The budget clocks in about $170 million higher than Healey’s proposal because the governor would give more money back in tax relief immediately, while the House would phase in many of its tax breaks over time, write Bruce Mohl and Jennifer Smith for Commonwealth Magazine.
The budget bill filing signals it’s “opening the floodgates” for hundreds of proposed amendments ahead of debate during the week of April 24, writes State House News Service’s Chris Lisinski.
Follow the millionaire’s money: House leaders lay out spending plan for surtax revenue
Top House Democrats differ from Gov. Maura Healey in how they think an estimated $1 billion in new revenue levied via the state’s surtax on income over $1 million. The House budget revealed Wednesday would make school meals free for all students, invest in clean energy updates to aging schools and funnel about a quarter of the cash to fix crumbling infrastructure on the MBTA, writes Sam Drysdale for State House News Service. House leadership’s budget bill would dedicate $70 million more to MBTA infrastructure than Gov. Maura Healey proposed in March.
Not enough green for the T: Advocates slam $9.2 billion capital plan
Transit advocates are raising the alarm over the MBTA’s proposed $9.2 billion capital improvement plan aimed at improving “safety and reliability” across the beleaguered system. Local naysayers want the T to take advantage of the new administration and be more aggressive in addressing long-term needs for its subway, train, and bus lines, writes Jon Hilliard for The Globe.
Boston prepares to mark 10th anniversary of Boston bombings
The city is mobilizing to mark a somber anniversary: The 10th year since the bombings at the Boston Marathon finish line claimed three lives, injured hundreds and sent shockwaves through the city. A weekend of events is planned leading up to Monday’s race day.
For GBH, Mark Herz explores the intersection of how marathon bombing survivors find healing along the race route that served as the backdrop to one of the most traumatic days of their lives 10 years ago.
Vape this: Juul pays up for alleged role in youth vaping epidemic
Massachusetts is due to receive $41 million as part of a massive $462 million settlement with vaping giant Juul for its alleged role in the youth vaping epidemic that led to a rise in underage e-cigarette use nationwide, writes Rick Sobey for The Boston Herald.
Harvard donor’s support for GOP, Florida gov riles campus
The ink was hardly dry on the $300 million check to Harvard from billionaire hedge fund CEO and Republican megadonor Kenneth C. Griffin that’s prompting its Graduate School of Arts and Sciences to take a new name before some faculty and staff blasted his support of GOP political candidates, write Rahem D. Hamid and Elias J. Schisgall for The Crimson. Griffin gave nearly $60 million to Republicans in the 2022 election cycle and has publicly backed Florida Governor Ron DeSantis for president in 2024.
Hecklers greet Warren at first campaign event since re-election launch
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s first town hall since announcing her re-election bid was “a rocky event” in Roxbury, writes Samantha J. Gross for The Boston Globe. Hecklers disrupted the Democratic senator, as she spoke to supporters and unabashedly defended abortion rights, which have come back into focus following a Texas judge’s attempt to revoke FDA approval of mifepristone.
Healey taps former Patrick aide to lead judicial screening group
Gov. Maura Healey has tapped a top lawyer from former Gov. Deval Patrick’s administration to lead her Judicial Nominating Commission. Abim Thomas, who served as Patrick’s deputy chief legal counsel until 2012, will head the 27-member panel set to pre-screen applicants for open judgeships and other court positions across the state, writes Sam Doran for State House News Service.
Braintree teachers still without a contract
Teachers and other school staff members in Braintree are demanding a pay raise as they pressure administrators to settle their overdue contract, writes Fred Hanson for The Patriot Ledger. The contract expired more than seven months ago. Massachusetts law prohibits teachers from striking but unions from Haverhill to Brookline have taken action anyway in recent months. Braintree teachers made no mention of taking that action.
Harvard students raise awareness of Israeli-Palestinian conflict
The Harvard University student chapter of the Palestine Solidarity Committee created an “apartheid wall” during the last week of March. The six-part display proclaimed in part: “There is no Zionist state without racism colonialism ethnic cleansing,” the Jewish News Syndicate dissects.
Not over: ‘Ladies’ comment fallout continues with recall bid in Easthampton
A group of Easthampton residents has begun gathering signatures in support of a possible recall election of School Committee Chair Cynthia Kwiecinski, who has become the target of ire after a finalist for the job of superintendent said he had his job offer pulled because he referred to female members of the school board as “ladies.” MassLive’s Luis Feldman has the details on the effort and what it will take to force a recall vote.
Cambridge starts culling of voter rolls with former city councilor
The Cambridge Election Commission has found that Sam Seide, who served two terms on the city council, should not have been registered to vote in the city. After months of research and hours of debate, the commission ruled that because the part of Seide’s border-straddling property where he sleeps is in Somerville, he should have been registered to vote in that city instead. Marc Levy of Cambridge Day reports more voters could be ruled ineligible for similar reasons.
Worcester school board may formalize boycott of Old Sturbridge Village
The Worcester School Committee could vote Thursday to block the district from sending field trips to Old Sturbridge Village as controversy continues over the living museum’s ties to a charter school recently approved by state regulators despite the objections of Worcester officials, the Telegram’s Jeff Chamer reports.
Rescued: Peter Pan will take over canceled SouthCoast commuter route
Peter Pan Bus Lines will take over the New Bedford-to-Boston bus route canceled by a competitor recently after a pandemic-related plunge in ridership. State Rep. Tony Cabral called the development “great news” for the area, which could have faced a long stretch without an affordable commuting option until SouthCoast Rail goes live.