A look at Wu's legislative wish list ahead of her first State of the City

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Get ready for another round of wintry (and windy) weather tonight. The snow will get started around 5 p.m. here in Boston, before changing over to rain later at night. Meteorologist Danielle Noyes has a full forecast on what the storm means for the evening commute, overall snowfall predictions and the conditions of ski slopes up north.

Meanwhile, we’ll have special live radio coverage of Boston Mayor Michelle Wu’s first State of the City address tonight at 7 p.m. (Wu’s actual speech is expected to get underway around 7:30 p.m.) We’ll also have an online video livestream to watch while you’re hunkering down from the storm.

So, what should we expect?

A look ahead: Read Walter Wuthmann’s preview of Wu’s State of the City here. While the mayor has over 14 months in office to recap, she told Radio Boston this week that “the bulk of the speech” tonight will focus on new policies she plans to unveil this coming year to address the city’s long-term growth and development. And we already have an idea of what some of those policies are.

  • The wish list: Last week, Wu’s office floated her long-awaited rent control plan, which would cap year-over-year rent increases at 10% for certain properties. (Wu made the case for the proposal in detail on Radio Boston.) But it doesn’t end there; she also released a laundry list of proposals she wants the State House and Gov. Maura Healey to pass. You can read the full list on the city’s website, but here are some highlights:
    • A 2% tax on real estate transactions above $2 million, tied to a tax credit for senior homeowners in Boston. (Wu proposed this last year too, but then-Gov. Charlie Baker opposed it.)
    • A proposal to make all commuter rail rides within Boston the same price as the MBTA: $2.40 per trip.
    • A ban on “predatory competitive electric supply companies” that lure residents into high electric bills. (Healey has also come out in support of such a ban.)
    • bill that would “immediately” offer childcare vouchers to families that become unhoused. (Advocates say the current process is hampered by “procedural barriers.”)

Speaking of the State House, lawmakers got together yesterday for their annual “consensus revenue hearing.” Before your eyes glaze over, stick with me for 30 seconds: It’s a quietly significant meeting where legislators hear from experts about how much revenue the state will bring in over the next 18 months — which has big downstream effects on what Healey and legislative leaders put into the budget. For example, House Speaker Ron Mariano has said the hearing would influence his position on whether tax cuts are doable this year.

  • The big takeaway? WBUR’s Steve Brown reports that — despite murmurs about a coming recession — state officials and third-party experts mostly agreed that revenue will remain at its already-high levels throughout the next year and a half.
  • Those estimates don’t include the state’s new millionaire’s tax, which the state says could generate between $1.4 and $1.7 billion in the next fiscal year (this July through June 2024).
  • What’s next: We’ll see how those estimates shape Healey’s first budget proposal, which is due by March 1.

Finally, amid all the recent layoff headlines, there’s some good local business news: Lego announced yesterday that it plans to move its North America headquarters from Connecticut to Boston. Like any LEGO project, the move will be a step-by-step process, running from mid-2025 through 2026. But local officials are already excited about the jobs the new HQ promises to bring to the area.

  • How many jobs? It’s not quite clear yet. A Lego spokesperson told me they’re offering all 740 employees in their Connecticut headquarters a job in Boston (as well as relocation assistance). But they know some workers may opt to leave the company instead.
  • New digs: While the phased-in move will have Lego employees working in both Connecticut and the company’s existing Back Bay office in the short term, they will eventually need a bigger office in Boston. Lego says they’re starting to look for that new spot now.

P.S.— Come over to WBUR CitySpace tonight for the kickoff of our busy winter 2023 slate. WBUR’s Darryl C. Murphy is chatting with local author Dart Adams about his book about Danish rapper Sleiman. It’s a story that echoes the journeys of people Adams grew up with in Boston — an immigrant tale of balancing identity and culture clash. (If you’re staying home due to the snow, you can also watch virtually.)

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Nik DeCosta-Klipa Newsletter Editor
Nik DeCosta-Klipa is the newsletter editor for WBUR.



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