Boston's Morning Newsletter
4 things to expect from Gov. Healey's first budget proposal
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Gov. Maura Healey’s busy week continues today. After unveiling her long-awaited tax proposal Monday and facing her first snowstorm Tuesday, the governor is expected to file her first budget proposal today. So, if you had $50 billion, how would you spend it?
Here are the four things we know about Healey’s plans so far:
A big boost for climate-friendly building: Healey has pledged to triple the budget for the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, a quasi-state energy that helps developers build greener. That work includes financing everything from proof-of-concept “passive house” pilots to offshore wind developments.
- Healey’s budget chief, Matthew Gorzkowicz, told WBUR’s Steve Brown that the governor believes the center should be a “key player” in climate-related industries as the state strives for net-zero emissions by 2050.
Back to school: Healey has said her budget proposal would fund and launch MassReconnect, offering free community college to people older than 25 without college degrees. (The idea is modeled after programs in Michigan and Tennessee.)
- The proposal may tee up some negotiations, as Senate President Karen Spilka has said the chamber will push for free community college for all residents, regardless of age.
Staffing up: The budget is expected to include money to hire 1,000 additional workers at the beleaguered MBTA, which has been forced to cut service levels due to staffing shortages.
- T officials have been offering $10,000 sign-on bonuses to attract more dispatchers, but progress has been slow. And they are still short by over 300 bus drivers.
More money for town and schools: Last week, Healey’s office teased a nearly 10% boost to the largest state stream of funding for K-12 public schools. Officials say it will fully fund a 2019 school finance law aimed at closing the gap in urban districts with high concentrations of low-income students and English learners.
- The budget should also increase state funding for city and town governments, including a 12% bump for public libraries.
Meanwhile, outside the State House:
Good news for your gas bill: the state’s Department of Public Utilities has ordered another round of rate reductions from National Grid and Eversource. (Thanks to a state law, DPU can make gas companies immediately increase or decrease their rates if prices on the open market rise or fall dramatically, and boy have they fallen this winter.)
- The reduction — which takes effect today — should save customers about 10% on their monthly bill. (For the average National Grid customer, that’s a difference of $23.) It also comes after a 4-5% decrease ordered by DPU early last month.
- The new rates are set to hold until May 1, when the next usual readjustment is scheduled. WBUR’s Miriam Wasser has more on how the market works here.
You have two more weeks of smooth sailing to Cape Cod. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is delaying work on the Sagamore Bridge — which was supposed to start today — until March 13. When the work begins, traffic over the bridge will be reduced from two lanes to one in each direction, 24-hours a day through May. Travelers should expect delays during normal rush hours.
- Corps spokesman Bryan Purtell says they still plan to finish the bridge work before the particularly busy Memorial Day weekend — even with the new delay.
Comings: The city of Attleboro has a new mayor. The Sun Chronicle reports City Councilor Cathleen DeSimone pulled off a surprise special election victory last night over Acting Mayor Jay DiLisio and two other contenders.
- However, a rematch is looming. DiLisio is reportedly planning to run again in the regular November election.
Goings: Revere is also now slated to get a new leader at City Hall. Mayor Brian Arrigo announced yesterday that he will not seek reelection this fall, after two terms in office.
- What’s next: Arrigo says he plans to spend more time with his family and pursue public service “outside of elected office.”
P.S.— The beginning of March means the return of our seasonal joy newsletter, The Pick Me Up. If you’re not already subscribed, sign up here to get a refreshing nugget of wholesome goodness in your inbox, three times a week. It’ll be short and sweet, and make you smile.