While the powers that be continue to wring their hands over $250 million the governor requested to address the state’s jam-packed shelter system, the administration is looking at new creative ways to get some green from D.C.
There seems to be a stalemate over the supplemental budget that would close the books on fiscal year 2023 that includes a few hundred million to ease the strained emergency assistance system that may begin turning away families it doesn’t have room for on Nov. 1, and top lawmakers don’t seem to be in a rush.
Senate President Karen Spilka and House Speaker Ron Mariano struck different tones on Monday when asked about emergency shelter spending. “The concern is that space is at a premium, there just seems to be no more space and I believe that options are being looked at right now,” Spilka said.
Mariano was more focused on slowing the new arrivals to the country that have strained the system, and was “willing to listen to any potential solution that may bring this influx of folks under control.”
Healey gave a gentle reminder of the $250 million outstanding question mark — though she didn’t belabor the point. “We put forward more additional money through a supplemental budget proposal, that’ll be the subject of discussion. But I think the important point here is that Massachusetts has done its job and so many have come together to make that possible,” the governor said.
Healey has said that supp spending would allow the state to continue to serve families and assist communities that are experiencing unexpected increases in students while the administration works on longer-term solutions.
With little indication of what to expect from the Legislature and when, the administration tried a new approach to get funding from the feds.
MassHealth filed an amendment to its Medicaid waiver last week which would allow the publicly-funded insurance program to fund (with some federal reimbursement) up to six months of temporary housing for those in the state shelter system who are also enrolled in state health coverage.
We’ll see how that strategy plays out over the next couple months, meanwhile, shelters may no longer guarantee housing as early as next week. — S.D.
Boston City Council approves modified version of Wu’s plan to clear Mass and Cass
Boston Police will be given a one-week window in which to clear the tent city known informally as Mass and Cass if Mayor Michelle Wu signs a measure Boston City Councilors approved Wednesday. The plan passed is a revised version of a plan submitted by Wu. The Boston Herald quoted City Councilor Edward Flynn as saying: “The level of violence that’s taking place on Atkinson Street and throughout Mass and Cass — rapes, stabbings, shootings — the city should never allow that type of situation to occur again.” — Boston Herald
Mass. college students protest against Gaza bombardment…
Students at a number of Massachusetts colleges joined walkouts and other protests held Wednesday to protest Israel’s continued bombing of suspected terror-related sites in the Gaza strip. Schools that saw demonstrations, according to the Globe, included: Harvard Divinity School, Smith College, Tufts University, and UMass Boston. In a photograph accompanying the Globe’s story, students are wearing surgical masks – even though they’re outdoors.— Boston Globe
…Including UMass Amherst students occupying a building
A crowd of 400 protesters stormed the administrative offices on the campus of UMass Amherst on Wednesday and pledged to occupy the building until school leaders condemn Israel’s military actions and cut ties with defense contractors. — Hampshire Daily Gazette
MBTA’s Green Line has yet another problem
The MBTA had to halt some service on its problem-plagued Green Line Wednesday due to issues with pantographs, the overhead mechanisms that force contacts that draw power used for train motors up against the overhead cables that supply electricity. WCVB reported that the problem, this time on the C Branch, is the fourth this week for the line. Shuttle buses took over for trains temporarily. MBTA officials said this week they’ll need to use buses instead of trains during the evening for about two weeks, starting soon, on the Green Line Extension. In that case, a contractor installed sections of rails and ties they allegedly knew had been built incorrectly, resulting in tracks that are too narrow by about a quarter-inch. — WCVB
Healey wants to use Medicaid funds to ease shelter overflow
Gov. Maura Healey’s administration filed paperwork yesterday asking the federal government to let Massachusetts use Medicaid funds to provide up to six months of housing for people who also are receiving health care paid for by the joint state/federal program targeting low-income residents. Migrants seeking refugee or asylum status qualify for Medicare. State officials said shelters could begin turning away prospective residents as early as next week due to overcrowding. — State House News Service
With a race for every seat, democracy’s alive and well in Worcester
The Nov. 7 elections for City Council and mayor in Worcester will be the first in 20 years seeing a race for every seat – just one sign of what WGBH describes as a ratcheted up political environment there. Some observers characterized the race as a face-off between progressive newcomers and a more conservative old guard. Worcester historically elects officials more centrist than counterparts in other Massachusetts cities. — WGBH
MGM Springfield will dole out back pay, fines over past practices
More than 2,000 workers at MGM Springfield will be getting back pay as part of a $6.8 million settlement between the resort casino and the office of Attorney General Andrea Campbell that ends a lengthy investigation into allegations the casino shortchanged tipped workers and failed to pay overtime when required by law.— MassLive
Healey picks probation officer for parole board
Gov. Maura Healey Wednesday picked a probation officer to serve on the state parole board, which plays a critical role in decisions regarding the early release of convicted criminals. Edith Alexander, the appointee, has a background that also includes education and coordinating emergency room services. — State House News Service
Anti-Semitic outburst over Zoom disrupts Danvers meeting
Officials in Danvers say police are investigating after a hybrid planning board meeting was disrupted this week by a Zoom caller who spouted anti-Semitic rhetoric before being cut off. The town says the incident was witnessed by only a handful of participants and viewers and has since been edited out of the video, Carline Enos of the Salem News reports. — Salem News
Reprieve: In nod to liquor store owners, New Bedford delays nip ban 9 months
Just days before a ban on the sale of nip bottles of booze was set to begin, the New Bedford Licensing Commission has approved a 9-month delay designed to allow package store owners time to sell down the single-serving bottles they’ve already bought from wholesalers.