9 a.m. | Gov. Maura Healey will welcome attendees at the second day of BIO International Convention. | Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, 415 Summer St., Boston
10 a.m. | There are 21 bills up for comment in the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing related to prescription drug access, cost, and transparency. | Room A-1 and Virtual
10 a.m. | The Joint Committee on Financial Services hears 28 bills dealing with various types of insurance including four dealing with flood insurance liability. | Room A-2 and Virtual
11 a.m. | The Joint Committee on Revenue hears 49 bills related to tax credits and deductions, including one that would offer incentives to landlords who rent below market rates to seniors and families. | Room B-2 and Virtual
11:30 a.m. | Boston Mayor Michelle Wu joins Superintendent Mary Skipper for an announcement on the city's high schools. | Outside Madison Park Technical Vocational High School and John D. O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science, 75 Malcolm X Boulevard, Roxbury
7 p.m. | Gov. Maura Healey speaks at the New Commonwealth Fund Third Anniversary Celebration. | 521 Overlook at Fenway Park, 4 Jersey St, Boston
There’s “nothing radical” about a plan to offer free tuition to nursing students at Massachusetts community colleges, says state Sen. Cindy Friedman — “It’s just plain necessary.”
Friedman, who serves top roles in the Legislature’s Joint Committees on Health Care Financing and Ways and Means, is one of the many architects behind the policy proposal folded into the state Senate’s budget that would use $20 million in revenue from the state’s new tax on income over $1 million to cover costs for those attending community college nursing programs — building up a crucial training ground for an industry still reeling in the aftermath of the pandemic.
Hospitals are short some 19,000 workers, according to industry reports. Friedman said it doesn’t bode well for patient care or patients’ pockets.
To meet and then keep up with demand, Massachusetts will need 6,000 new nurses per year, according to U.S. Department of Labor projections. It’s challenging math for a state currently producing about 4,000 registered nursing graduates a year.
Friedman said the Senate aims to “incentivize” students to study nursing at Massachusetts community colleges, saving roughly $11,000 in tuition on average, according to a review of program fees based on data from the federal Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System.
It’s “one solution” that speaks to several of the complex issues facing Massachusetts as it emerges from the pandemic, said Friedman. Slashing costs lowers economic barriers to entry, making training for high-paying nursing jobs more accessible to immigrants and communities of color, diversifying the workforce.
Judith Pare, director of nursing education for the Massachusetts Nurses Association, called the plan a “good step” albeit “just one step” toward solving a complicated problem she says will take years of commitment and collateral. One challenge will be finding enough nursing educators, which are currently understaffed and underpaid, she said.
The program’s fate lies in the hands of six lawmakers — three from the House and three from the Senate — tasked with hashing out a slate of major differences between the budget bills passed in each chamber. The conference committee will decide which policies make the cut in a final compromise budget bill for the fiscal year that begins on July 1.
Senate President Karen Spilka’s goal is to make community college free for all residents by 2024. With predictions that labor shortages already strangling industries across Massachusetts will only get worse over the coming decade, Friedman says it’s never been more important to “make sure that our community colleges are doing the work that we really need: building up our workforce.”
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Tax relief still on table for this year
Legislative leaders have confirmed that a tax relief bill is still coming. Senate President Karen Spilka confirmed the TDB package is indeed still on the way during a Monday press conference at the State House. The day brought news of rebounding May tax revenues, but just days after it was revealed the state owes $2.5 billion in federal pandemic-era relief funds to cover the cost of state-provided unemployment benefits, a tab which is supposed to be picked up by the commonwealth, not the feds.
T kicks off new era in worker safety
MBTA officials said the T will pilot new “worker ahead” warnings on some of its subway tracks, revise its radio communications about employees on the rails, amend training for dispatchers and more after drawing federal scrutiny for a series of dangerous incidents as part of a new safety plan. T officials on Monday submitted the plan to the Federal Transit Administration, meeting the regulatory agency’s deadline for another pass at laying out immediate reforms and keeping workers on the tracks.
Black is the new green: Somerville’s Greentown Labs partners with oil
Somerville’s Greentown Labs has partnered with the US wing of Saudi Aramco, sending shockwaves through the climate community. It means the nation’s largest climate-tech incubator is in business with a company that aims to expand its oil production at least through the end of the decade. It is reportedly responsible for 4.4 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide and methane emissions since 1965, reports Sabrina Shankman for The Boston Globe.
Everett politician mounts comeback after quitting over racist remarks
Former Everett City Councilor Anthony DiPierro has begun a campaign to return to his former seat after he was forced to resign his post when it was revealed he’d shared racist memes and racial slurs online, including with other Everett officials, reports GBH. His resignation came only after multiple community protests and then-Attorney General Maura Healey called on him to quit.
NH Gov. Chris Sununu ends presidential hopes amid crowded GOP field
New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu will not seek the presidency in 2024, arguing that Republican candidates with no path to victory are jeopardizing the party’s chance to stop former President Donald Trump. The 48-year-old governor, who has emerged as a frequent Trump critic, made the announcement on CNN and followed up with a social media post.
State business leaders create Latino advocacy commission
Latino leaders in business, policy, advocacy and philanthropy are banding together to form a statewide economic policy and advocacy group, reports Doug Banks of Boston Business Journal. Called Unidos in Power, the group’s goal is for Latinos — which comprise a widely diverse group of ethnicities — to be a stronger, more unified voice of representation across Massachusetts.
Former Harvard professor emerges as third-party presidential contender
Activist and former Harvard professor Cornel West announced yesterday that he will run for president next year as a third-party candidate, dissing both major parties in his announcement video. He will run as a member of The People’s Party.
Bolton police investigate vandalism targeting pride event
Organizers of last week’s Pride parade and rally in Bolton say police are investigating two separate incidents of vandalism that damaged signs advertising the event as possible hate crimes. Henry Schwan of the Telegram reports the event, which went off issue on Sunday, included a drag show for the first time this year.
State property sale will bring affordable apartments to New Bedford
The state has struck a deal to sell a former orphanage in New Bedford to a Roxbury-based developer who will turn it into 28 apartments, 70 percent of which will be designated for buyers who qualify for affordable housing programs. Mayor Jon Mitchell has long pushed for the redevelopment of the historic structure, which is the site of the soon-to-open SouthCoast Commuter Rail station.
Senate budget includes funding to feed college students
The Senate’s spending plan includes $1 million to continue the Hunger Free Campus Initiative, which began just before the pandemic and has been funded with federal relief funds for the past several years. Michael McHugh of the Salem News reports state Sen. Joan Lovely got the funding into the proposed budget and that advocates are lobbying for it to survive final negotiations.
Sheriff in Texas recommends charges over migrant flight to Martha’s Vineyard
A Texas sheriff who investigated the flight carrying 49 migrants that arrived without warning on Martha’s Vineyard last September has recommended felony and misdemeanor charges be filed–though it’s not clear who the target of the charges would be or whether the district attorney in the Democratic county will bring them. The move comes amid a fresh round of similar relocation stunts, this time targeting California.
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