8:30 a.m. | Senate President Karen Spilka addresses business leaders at an event hosted by the Associated Industries of Massachusetts. |101 Huntington Ave. #1300, Boston
9:30 a.m. | Boston Mayor Michelle Wu attends the South Boston Coffee Hour. | A Street Park, 135-141 A Street, South Boston
10 a.m. | Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll attends the Gateway Cities Legislative Caucus Meeting. | Room 428
One datapoint puts Massachusetts’ labor shortage issue into stark relief: The number of jobs available in Massachusetts is expected to grow 21% while the workforce will expand just 1.5%, state labor data show. Meanwhile, women in Massachusetts earn 86 cents for every dollar a man makes.
That’s the inspiration for a pair of bills that are designed to address glaring gender and racial pay gaps in Massachusetts and also ease the labor crunch.
Local hospitals are one critical area profoundly feeling the effects, paying out $1.52 billion last year to hire temporary hospital workers with nurses and support staff in short supply, an industry report found. And it could get worse — a recent survey from the Massachusetts Medical Society found that one in four Massachusetts doctors are considering leaving.
Legislation filed by Reps. Cutler and Brandy Fluker-Oakley and Sen. Jehlen (H 1849/ S 1191) and backed by the Wage Equity Now Coalition, would mandate companies with 15 or more employees to disclose salary ranges for job listings, promotions and transfers at the request of current employees.
Another bill filed by Sen. Paul Feeney (S 1181) would make larger companies’ wage data public.
How bad is the pay gap? National Women’s Law Center analysis of census data shows that for Black women, the gap jumps to 58 cents for every dollar earned by a white man. Latina women make just 57 cents on the dollar.
People of color earn less than their white counterparts. Latinos with bachelor’s degrees in Massachusetts earn about 40% less than non-Latinos, one study found.
Pay transparency legislation is gaining traction in population hubs across the nation, with laws already on the books in New York, California, and Washington.
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Sizing up the Senate’s budget
State Senate leaders unveiled a $55.85 billion budget yesterday that echoes much of what we’ve already seen from the House and governor, with some exceptions.
House-backed proposals included $20 million to make prison calls free for inmates, $20 million for the MassReconnect program offering free community college for Bay Staters over 25 with no college degrees and the revival of a pandemic-era renter protection that would push off evictions for tenants seeking payment assistance all made the cut.
New policy pitches would cover tuition for nursing students at community colleges and create a loan repayment program for behavioral health workers, taking a crack at labor shortages in those fields. High school students without legal immigration status would qualify for in-state tuition rates at public colleges and universities.
The $1 billion in new millionaire tax revenue would get an even split between education and transportation, similar to the House. Investments target K-12 and higher education, capital projects at the MBTA and funding for regional transit authorities.
Senators snubbed a push to legalize online lottery sales passed by the House and backed by Gov. Maura Healey, saying it “needs to be vetted.”
Permanent free school lunch also got a pass. So did support for rail service between Boston and western Massachusetts.
Tax relief appears imminent with Senators placing $575 million aside but big questions remain on priorities after April’s $1.4 billion revenue shortfall.
Debate on the budget and any added amendments opens Monday, May 22.
Here’s a roundup of local coverage:
The end of COVID in Massachusetts — well the public health emergency, anyway
The virus is still here — maybe permanently — but Massachusetts reaches a turning point in the COVID era on Thursday when the state and federal public health emergencies end, reports Priyanka Dayal McCluskey for WBUR. Three years after governments scrambled to set up a response as they stared down the pandemic, policies designed to track and limit the virus’s spread will cease including: masking in health clinics, vaccine mandates and access to testing. Department of Public Health Commissioner Robbie Goldstein said measures can come back if necessary.
Redistricting back on city council agenda, city wants late election deadline
Boston city officials want to push back a May 23 deadline for council candidates to submit nomination papers following a federal judge’s decision barring the use of a new redistricting map in the November election, reports Gayla Cawley for The Boston Herald. A “divided and disorganized” Boston City Council must take another go at redrawing its districts.
Migrant surge overwhelming resources in Massachusetts
Migrant aid groups from around Massachusetts tell Mike Damiano of The Boston Globe that they are working at or beyond their capacity to help thousands of Latin Americans and Haitians who need aid after leaving countries where local economies have collapsed. The has placed nearly 900 migrant and homeless families in hotels as an emergency measure with shelter space maxed out.
How race factors into murder cases for 2 mothers accused of killing their children
Two Massachusetts mothers — one white and one Black — both accused of killing their children in a state of psychosis face striking differences in how the courts are handling their cases, writes Alvin Buyinza for MassLive. Lindsay Clancy of Duxbury killed her three children by strangulation before trying to kill herself. In a similar but lesser-known case, Brockton mother Latarsha L. Sanders was convicted of killing her two children and sentenced to life in prison, a fate experts see as less likely for Clancy.
Massachusetts sees few gun deaths but with big race disparity
Massachusetts had the lowest number of gun deaths of any state in 2021, U.S. CDC data show. But look further into the data and you will find that despite its low per capita gun fatalities, Massachusetts has one of the largest disparities between white and Black fatalities due to gun violence, reports Brandon Trutt for WBZ.
Abortion access top concern for students choosing Northeast colleges, poll shows
Prospective students are considering state laws banning abortion in their choice for choosing colleges, a recent poll finds. State House News Service’s Michael P. Norton reports the poll of students and families in nine Northeast states found 76 percent of students do not want to attend school in a state where abortion is restricted, and three-quarters of parents prefer their child to attend school in a state without restrictions.
Can’t take the heat: Massachusetts has second-ever warmest start to year
Seven. states their warmest January to April ever as the eastern U.S. had a record-warm start to the year, according to a new report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Talal Ansari and Suryatapa Bhattacharya report Massachusetts is among another group of seven states that posted their second-warmest period since weather data recording began in the 1800s.
‘Editor Extraordinaire’ Michael P. Norton recognized for newsroom leadership
State House News Service’s editor, the venerable Michael P. Norton, was named among the media’s top newsroom leaders in Editor & Publisher’s “2023 Editors Extraordinaire.” Norton is behind the scenes supporting the New Service’s team of State House reporters, always encouraging them to be “curious” to learn more.
Former Weymouth officer resigns, caught on camera punching handcuffed suspect
A former Weymouth police officer has resigned after he was caught on camera punching a handcuffed man 13 times in the head, WHDH reported. The chief is working to hold Justin Chappell — who was also accused of excessive force in a separate arrest last February — accountable and wants to make sure he can’t work in law enforcement for a different department.
Mass exodus: Rapid resignations leave Uxbridge School Committee with 1 member
And then there was one. A rapid succession of resignations from all but one Uxbridge School Committee member has left the town with questions, Victoria Price reports for NBC Boston. Superintendent Michael Baldassarre confirmed in a letter to families last week. Administrators have tapped Ed Davis, the former Boston police commissioner, to investigate.
Koch says he’ll seek seventh term as Quincy mayor
Saying he wants to keep the city’s momentum going, Quincy Mayor Thomas will seek a seventh consecutive term in office in this year’s election, Mary Whitfill of the Patriot Ledger reports. Koch, the only candidate to declare so far, says he still has “the fire in my belly.”
Heavy lift: Orleans voters to decide 27 questions at annual election
There’s only one contested race on the Orleans town election ballot next Tuesday, but voters will need to plan for some extra time to answer 27 questions, including 11 Proposition 2 ½ overrides and 16 proposed charter changes. Zane Razzaq of the Cape Cod Times explains.
Shelved: Adams college drops plan to house families in empty dorm
The Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts says it will no longer pursue a plan to lease an empty student dormitory to a state agency that planned to use it to shelter homeless families. President James Birge said the decision to drop the plan, which would have netted the college $2.6 million a year, “extensive consideration,” while a spokesperson said Gov. Healey was “disappointed” in the decision.
Tax crackdown rattles fishing industry in New Bedford
Three commercial fishermen based in New Bedford were among a group of seven across New England recently indicted on tax-evasion charges and talk of the IRS-led crackdown on boats that under-report or don’t report any income at all, has many on the SouthCoast’s working waterfront concerned that additional enforcement action is coming.