Happening Today:

9:30 a.m. | Gov. Maura Healey attends MassMEDIC Impact Symposium, which the governor's office says will be closed press. | Ballroom Picasso 7, Encore Boston Harbor, 1 Broadway, Everett

10 a.m. | Gov. Maura Healey makes Innovation Career Pathways announcement and tours the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center Wind Technology Testing Center with other state officials. | 80 Terminal St, Charlestown

11:30 a.m. | Gov. Maura Healey helps stock trout in Jamaica Pond. | Jamaica Pond Beach Area, 507 Jamaicaway, Jamaica Plain

8 a.m. | Gov. Maura Healey participates in "Banned in Boston," an annual comedy and music revue. Other cast members include Auditor Diana DiZoglio, Rep. Tackey Chan, JC Monahan of NBC Boston, and Shirley Leung of the Boston Globe. | Roadrunner, 89 Guest St., Boston

With passage of the House Ways and Means $56.2 billion budget, Massachusetts is one step closer to major investments in education, transportation and housing.

Representatives added roughly $120 million to the bottom line of the budget passed Wednesday, mostly for local-level earmarks.

All eyes now turn to the Senate, which traditionally produces its own budget sometime in May.

And as with almost every major piece of legislation, you can bet on the Senate serving up its own version, Douglas Howgate of Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation said.

“The question is: What do those differences look like in terms of the magnitude and scope,” Howgate said.

When it comes to tax relief, for example, Howgate says “the themes are likely to still be the same” in terms of how to cut costs for low-income Bay Staters and also keep those with opportunities to relocate to other states.

Here’s what policy proposals budget watchdogs including Howgate tell MASSterList they’re watching as the Senate prepares to drop its own budget:

  • 62F tax cap law: The House would amend the tax rebate law to send equal refunds to each taxpayer. Both Gov. Maura Healey’s and the House budgets would exempt millionaire tax revenue from 62F.
  • Millionaire tax: The House would split funding evenly between education and transportation but focus on K-12 and the MBTA. Healey would focus on higher education and MassDOT-level investment.
  • Tax relief: House plan largely mirrors Healey’s, but on a slower schedule.
  • iLottery: House budget legalizes online wagering to fund child care initiatives. 
  • Pandemic programs: The House seeks to extend pandemic-era eviction protections and fund universal free school meals.

Regardless of the Senate’s take, one thing is clear: Massachusetts is making major investments in new and expanded policy.

The House spending plan is more than 13 percent higher than last year’s operating budget, yet pushed through this year’s budget with almost no discussion and with lockstep votes on every amendment as well as the overall package.

Delve into the nitty-gritty of what made it into the House budget and what didn’t with this report from Chris Lisinski of State House News Service.

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Pentagon leak suspect had ‘arsenal,’ discussed ‘mass’ violence

The Massachusetts Air National Guardsman who allegedly stole classified Pentagon documents and leaked them in a private group on the social media platform Discord had a history of making violent comments, sought information about how to commit a shooting, and had a “virtual arsenal of weapons” in his home, reports Kelsey Ables of The Washington Post. Jack Teixeira is scheduled to appear in federal court in Worcester on Thursday for a detention hearing.

The Washington Post | The Guardian | CNN

Wind power will forever change views in Nantucket, off coast

The full scale of the impact of the six offshore wind developments currently planned for Nantucket’s waters came into view in a recent publication by Mayflower Wind (now SouthCoast Wind). Nantucket is essentially “ground zero” for large-scale offshore wind development, writes Greta Feeney of N Magazine. A city of white turbines will dot the horizon once the massive project is built out. 

N Magazine

Making the grade: MCAS has some supporters after all

A newly formed coalition of education organizations has thrown its support behind the controversial MCAS exams that have been the center of the debate around achievement and equity for years, reports Sam Drysdale for State House News Service. The state’s largest teachers union, meanwhile, has learned schools will be turned into “testing warehouses” to get students to pass.

State House News Service

Roughly 27,000 drunken-driving convictions could be tossed out following court ruling

Tens of thousands of drunken-driving convictions are being called into question after the Supreme Judicial Court on Wednesday unanimously upheld a prior ruling that some breathalyzers used by the state were improperly calibrated and maintained from 2011 to 2019, and that some state officials knew about it and covered it up, WCVB reports.

WCVBThe Boston Globe

More action against neo-Nazis, demands veterans’ group

After a neo-Nazi organization has targeted Jewish, Black and LGBTQ people from across New England, a veterans group is calling on law enforcement to crack down on the behavior, reports Phillip Martin for GBH. The Task Force Butler Institute, a self-described anti-fascist research group made up of U.S. military vets, released a 300-page report Tuesday documenting acts of violence carried out in recent years by the Nationalist Social Club-131, or NSC-131. The Anti-Defamation League describes NSC-131 as “a neo-Nazi group with small, autonomous regional chapters.”


Pension expenses could lead to ‘insolvent’ MBTA by 2038: reports

A new problem of financial proportions now faces the ailing MBTA, where expenses for the $1.6 billion pension fund could “cause the MBTA to be insolvent” by 2038, according to an arbitration document obtained by WBUR reporter Andrea Perdomo-Hernandez. MBTA officials have been pushing to raise the retirement age for workers from 55 to 65, but recently decided not to due to union pushback and a 2,800-worker deficit.

State House News Service

Absentee MBTA manager fired, more in jeopardy as governor cracks down

Gov. Maura Healey said leadership changes are in the works at the MBTA after a manager found to be working out of state was fired and four others who live hundreds of miles away were told to be in Boston more often, reports Gayla Cawley for The Boston Herald.

The Boston Herald

Healey chooses symbolic empty frame instead of traditional governor’s portrait

Gov. Maura Healey unveiled an empty frame instead of a framed portrait of a former governor at the State House on Wednesday. The Cambridge Democrat was touched by an essay submitted by high school students Julian Hynes of Amherst-Pelham Regional High School, and Ja’liyah Santiago and Adniley Velez of Holyoke Community Charter School, who proposed hanging an empty frame, reports Samantha J. Gross for The Boston Globe.

The Boston Globe

Ex-Harvard professor sentenced gets 2 days, fine for China ties

The former Harvard University professor convicted of lying to the feds about his ties to a Chinese-run science recruitment program and failing to pay taxes on payments to him from a Chinese university will pay more than $83,000 in restitution and fines and was sentenced to time served, reports the Associated Press. Charles Lieber, 64, was sentenced by Judge Rya Zobel in U.S. District Court in Boston.

The New York Times | The Associated Press

Cape water could be at risk from gun range, draft EPA report says 

The Environmental Protection Agency plans to say a proposed machine-gun range on Joint Base Cape Cod poses a significant risk to the aquifer that provides drinking water to the region, a finding that could mean the end of the effort if the agency finalizes its ruling after a 60-day public comment period. Denise Coffey of the Cape Cod Times and Eve Zuckoff of CAI have the details.

The Cape Cod Times | CAI

North Brookfield board won’t issue permit, but drag show will go on 

Facing the prospect of a First Amendment lawsuit from the ACLU, the North Brookfield Select Board now says a drag show can be performed on the town common this summer, though it still doesn’t have the votes to issue a permit, the Telegram’s Jeff Chamer reports.

The Telegram & Gazette

Showdown: Salem mayoral hopefuls debate for first time 

Neil Harrington and Dominick Pangallo debated for the first time Wednesday ahead of the May 16 special election to choose the city’s next mayor. As Dustin Luca of the Salem News reports, both candidates touted their experience in helping to lead the city–Harrington as its mayor in the 1990s and Pangallo as the chief of staff to former Mayor Kim Driscoll, whose departure prompted the special election.

The Salem News

Back pay: Lawmakers eye compensation for Quabbin Reservoir towns 

State Sen. Jo Comerford and Rep. Aaron Saunders say legislation they have co-sponsored to provide additional state funding to communities around the Quabbin Reservoir is meant to ensure the drinking water supply remains protected and also as a nod to those who feel the region wasn’t treated fairly when the reservoir was built starting in the 1930s.

The Recorder

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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.