Happening Today:

11 a.m. | U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark speaks about the debt ceiling "crisis" with local veterans and constituents. | Outside Revere American Legion, 249 Broadway, Revere

Noon | U.S. Rep. Richard Neal announces $1 million in federal funding for affordable housing. | 125 Allen St., Athol

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr passed a note to Democrat budget chief Michael Rodrigues as budget debate wrapped yesterday that spelled out in bold letters “I.O.U. $575 million.”

It was a symbolic nod to one of the biggest still-lingering questions on next year’s spending: What kind of tax relief will state lawmakers deliver to Bay Staters? Senators have left a placeholder for now.

At least 43 states enacted tax cuts of some kind in 2021 or 2022 amid a tax revenue windfall that sent collections soaring in many places, including Massachusetts, according to the Tax Foundation.

But Bay Staters have been left waiting for their turn to share in the wealth — for the most part. Lawmakers failed to pass a $1 billion relief plan last year, citing revenue concerns. They paused upon discovering tax collections came in billions over expectations, triggering a one-time rebate for some taxpayers.

At a time when most states are doling out relief, Paul Craney of the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance criticized Massachusetts lawmakers he said seem bent on doing the opposite.

Both the House and Senate budgets seek to rejigger the tax law — 62F — that last year returned $2.9 billion to income taxpayers that Craney says goes “against the will of the voters.”

Both chambers seek to exempt from the rebate trigger the revenue from the new surtax on income over $1 million. They could also tweak how the state calculates the maximum amount of tax revenue, making it even less likely to hit the threshold.

The House already has passed a tax cut plan that would cost $587 million in FY24 and $1.1 billion annually once it fully takes effect over several years. Senate Democrats stalled momentum following a disappointing April tax haul. They instead factored $575 million into their budget to cover tax relief in a bill that has yet to emerge. 

Budget watchdogs on both sides of the aisle, however, tell MASSterList there is still plenty of cash to support relief.

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Senate passes $56 billion budget setting up conference committee negotiations

House and Senate lawmakers have some big differences to hash out after senators passed a nearly $56 billion state budget on Thursday. Both chambers have passed spending plans that lay out next year’s priorities — but with some major differences. 

The Senate budget includes policy changes not considered by the House that would extend in-state tuition rates to some students without legal immigration status, cover tuition for community college nursing students and offer a loan repayment program to behavioral health workers.

A House-approved proposal to move state lottery sales online got the snub from the Senate. 

Those and other differences in competing budget bills for the fiscal year beginning July 1 will be negotiated behind closed doors in a conference committee over the coming weeks. A compromise bill must then earn approval from both chambers before landing on Gov. Maura Healey’s desk.

The Boston Globe | GBH | State House News Service

Chugging along: T chief touts ‘progress’ on lifting slow zone restrictions

MBTA Chief Phillip Eng said the T is making “forward progress” but admitted there’s “a lot more to do” to get the troubled transit system running full speed ahead, reports Sam Drysdale for State House News Service. The T lifted 66 speed restrictions in April and May that were put in place after parts of the track were found to be unsafe for trains to run at full speed. Speed restrictions remain in on 20 percent of all tracks.

Commonwealth Magazine | State House News Service

Off the charts: Radioactivity levels high in untreated Pilgrim Nuclear wastewater 

Samples of radioactive particles in untreated wastewater stored at the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant in Plymouth for one are more than a million times higher and more than 200 million times higher than average concentrations found in the ocean, reports Barbara Moran for WBUR. The company charged with decommissioning the plant has proposed treating and diluting the approximately 1.1 million gallons of contaminated water and releasing it into Cape Cod Bay.


Housing permit approvals down 30% so far this year in greater Boston, data show

There’s been a statewide push to build more housing as rents have gone through the roof in recent years, but data show less building is happening in greater Boston, reports Greg Ryan for The Boston Business Journal. Metro area cities and towns have seen a 30 percent drop in approved permits through the end of April compared to this year, according to new U.S. Census Bureau data. The drop locally in permitted units is also larger than the 26% decline nationwide year-over-year.

Boston Business Journal

Parting gift: Quincy billionaire gifts $1,000 to UMass Boston grads

UMass Boston’s 2,500 graduates got a surprise gift just moments before they crossed the stage on Thursday. Quincy billionaire Rob Hale grabbed the microphone to announce he’s giving each new grad $1,000 saying “You guys have survived. You have prospered. You are to be celebrated,” reports Sonel Cutler for The Boston Globe. The cash was predictably well received from students, who erupted in cheer.

The Boston Globe

Time for turbines: First parts for Vineyard Wind’s 62-turbine project arrive

The first massive parts of an offshore wind turbine for Vineyard Wind arrived in New Bedford from Europe yesterday, reports WCAI. The wind farm of 62 turbines to be installed south of Martha’s Vineyard will be the first large-scale offshore wind development in the United States. It’s the first major wind project that the state hopes to leverage into a major industry for the Bay State.


Mass researchers lead national study on long COVID

Mass General Brigham researchers led a national study of almost 10,000 people that has identified 12 key symptoms of long COVID, reports Mark Herz for GBH. The study is a starting point to diagnosing the disease, which can include a range of sometimes debilitating symptoms. The study found the most common long COVID symptoms are a loss of smell or taste, chronic cough, and a worsening of symptoms after minor physical or mental exertion.


Father, son duo that led 10-year lottery scheme get prison

A father and son from Watertown are headed for prison over an elaborate, 10-year lottery fraud scheme where they cashed in on 14,000 winning lottery tickets and laundered more than $20 million, reports Fortune. They reportedly designed the scheme to enrich themselves and help prize winners avoid paying taxes on winnings.


Floating hospital could give edge in opioid fight, say senators

Senators want to create a recovery facility on a decommissioned ship to aid in the fight against the opioid epidemic. Lawmakers included the redrafted Sen. Nick Collins amendment to their fiscal year 2024 budget, reports Sam Drysdale for State House News Service. It approves a study to look into converting a decommissioned ship into The Floating Hospital for Mental Health, Substance Abuse and Recovery.

State House News Service

Salem ‘shroom ordinance vetoed, but likely to be passed again 

Salem Acting Mayor Robert McCarthy has vetoed a measure unanimously backed by the city council that directed police not to enforce laws banning psychedelic mushrooms. But Dustin Luca of the Salem News reports the measure is likely to be before the council again with new wording meant to make it clear that laws regulating distribution of the drugs will still be enforced.

Salem News

Northampton emergency shelter is closing and more may follow 

The closure of Safe Passage of Northampton’s emergency shelter program for survivors of domestic violence has some advocates worried that similar programs could be at risk amid economic headwinds tied to the housing crisis. Safe Passage said it would no longer operate a shelter it has run at an undisclosed location in Northampton since 1977 but will continue to work with domestic violence survivors.


EPA gets an earful at hearing on Cape machine gun range 

Residents of Cape Cod turned out in strong numbers to urge the Environmental Protection Agency to finalize its initial ruling that a proposed machine gun training range at Joint Base Cape Cod should be shelved because it poses a risk to the region’s sole source of drinking water. 

Cape Cod Times | Commonwealth Magazine

Lowell allocates $1 million for identity-theft help after cyberattack 

The city of Lowell will likely pay as much as $1 million to provide LifeLock identity-theft protection services to thousands of municipal and school employees as fallout continues from the yet-to-be-resolved April ransomware cyberattack, Melanie Gilbert of the Sun reports. 

Lowell Sun

Weekend political and policy talk shows

Keller@Large | 8:30 a.m. Sunday | WBZ-TV | Political analyst Jon Keller interviews Doug Howgate, president of Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, to discuss the exodus of residents from the state, tax cuts and the budget debate.

On The Record | 11 a.m. Sunday | WCVB-TV State Rep. Dylan Fernandes is the guest this weekend where he will discuss the status of the Cape Cod Bridges, the shortage of workers, housing challenges, and environmental issues. Ed Harding and Sharman Sacchetti host. Democratic Political Analyst Mary Anne Marsh and Republican Political Analyst Rob Gray 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.