THE LEGISLATURE APPROVED a slew of bills by session’s end, but plenty of unfinished business remained, according to two Massachusetts policy analysts who compared notes on the coded.
Evan Horowitz, executive director of the Tufts University Center for State Policy Analysis and host of this week’s podcast, said money wasn’t the issue. Between the federal aid and a huge state surplus, Horowitz said, Massachusetts had billions of dollars in extra cash.
“This session has been marked very differently than previous legislative sessions in that there was no clear income restriction. That wasn’t what was stopping legislators from getting things done,” he said.
Marie-Frances Rivera, president of the left-leaning Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, said the problem was setting priorities.
“There are important things that we need to do and I think part of the reason there was so much chaos at the end of the session is because people are pretty myopic about what’s going on right now and they’re not really looking at the long term. and what we are trying to build,” Rivera said.
She said lawmakers need to focus and address the state’s challenges in a more direct way. She suggested that the Legislature designate specific months of the year to address key issues, for example, February for early care and education and March for the MBTA.
“We need to pace ourselves and commit to meeting deadlines,” he said. “We’re really not having the constructive conversations that we need to really resolve these issues.”
Rivera also urges caution over the tax cap, a law passed by voters in 1986 that kicked in this year and requires $2.9 billion in excess tax revenue to be returned to taxpayers. Rivera says some of the money would go back to people who could actually use it, but a lot of the money would go back to people who don’t really need it.
“There are a lot of things we could do with that money,” he said, suggesting the law could be changed to direct the money toward solving some of the state’s long-term problems.
Rivera is also not backing down on his support for a constitutional amendment that would impose a tax surcharge on income over $1 million. The so-called millionaire tax, which comes before voters in November, is expected to add between $1.3 billion and $2 billion a year to state coffers.
“We may have a surplus on the books right now, in this fiscal year, but we have to see what is the 10-year plan, what is the 20-year plan. Our infrastructure is falling apart, right? So what revenue streams are we implementing that are fair? she asks.
“My opinion doesn’t change because we’ve had COVID and all these federal funds came through and our economy is kind of bad right now,” he said.
Horowitz said he is concerned about Beacon Hill’s ability to spend the money wisely. “Given what we saw in this session about how lawmakers use money when they have it, what makes you confident that they will use millionaire tax revenue the way you are designing it?” he asked him.
“To be totally honest, I’m not sure,” Rivera said.
reform from within: In various DA and sheriff races, reformers seek to win office and make change from within, but some early reformers now face setbacks and challenges of their own. read more.
Tight primary races: Andrea Campbell and Chris Dempsey open a slim lead in the Democratic primary races for attorney general and auditor, according to a new tracking poll, but the ranks of undecided voters are long. The poll was conducted by the centre-left group Priorities for Progress, whose organizers support Campbell. read more.
self funding: Shannon Liss-Riordan reports spending $9.3 million of her own money on her campaign for attorney general as super PACs race to endorse her rival, Andrea Campbell. read more.
Arroyo’s files show ‘no crime committed’: Suffolk County District Attorney candidate Ricardo Arroyo claims a vindication of the police records released Friday, but his rival, incumbent District Attorney Kevin Hayden, says the materials prove little. Arroyo also turned over only part of the files that he obtained through a court order. Read more.
Joint effort: Five New England states come together to seek solutions to bring electricity from offshore wind farms to land. read more.
DPU Oversight Hearing: Beacon Hill lawmakers plan an oversight hearing on the Department of Public Utilities, which is being criticized for doing a poor job policing safety issues on the MBTA. read more.
Call for master plan: Ann Kelleher and Diane Valle of the Pier 5 Association say planning for piecemeal development in Charlestown isn’t working. A master plan is needed, they say. read more.
Voters need more information: With so many voters not knowing the candidates, Danielle Allen of Harvard, Liam Kerr of Priorities for Progress and adviser John Griffin say our democratic institutions are failing voters. read more.
a labor day message: Steven Tolman, president of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, says the future of work is not for sale. Read more.
FROM THE WEB
Mayor of Boston Michelle Wu wants to simplify cannabis permits procedures, but some neighborhood groups and councilors are rejecting the idea. (boston globe)
Wu also announced the formation of a new city office to help with job training and childcare. (WBUR)
liz truss takes office as new prime minister From great britain (New York Times)
vice president harris promotes the pro-union policies of the Biden administration in a Labor Day speech in Boston. (boston globe)
a federal judge will appoint a special master to review records seized from former President Donald Trump’s home to determine if any of them are protected by attorney-client privilege. (Washington Post)
Associated Press offers a summary of the gubernatorial race and other races on today’s ballot.
the Telegram and Gazette publishes transcripts of his interviews with candidates for the Worcester Mayor State Senate petty joe and YWCA executive Robin Kennedy.
activists prepare for an electoral fight to keep a new law granting driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants. (standard hours)
A woman from New Bedford who lost his home and $200,000 in equity due to $10,000 in unpaid property taxes settled for $85,000 with New Bedford and Tallage Davis real estate developer. (standard hours) Commonwealth I wrote about the claim when it was filed.
In her annual Labor Day report, Attorney General Maura Healey reports Leveling $11.8 million in fines and restitution against companies for violations of wage and hour and other worker protection laws. (live mass)
Demand for office space in Boston is 34 percent below pre-pandemic levels. (boston globe)
CVS offers $8 billion for a company that employs doctors who make house calls. (New York Times)
A judge rules that a protester was wrongfully arrested outside Boston Mayor Michelle Wu’s home for violating a new city ordinance and should have received a civil citation instead. (boston herald)
John Durkin, Worcester School Superintendent for more than a decade, dies in 90. (Telegram and Gazette)