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In the midst of her first overseas trip in office, Gov. Maura Healey made a big splash stateside: special Pride Month billboards in Florida and Texas promoting “Massachusetts: For us all.”
The ads — which Healey announced with a succinct tweet Monday — made national headlines. And in a new interview with Healey (thanks to WBUR’s Lisa Mullins), she elaborated on the strategy behind the move.
Calling it a “team effort,” Healey declined to take individual credit for the Pride Month billboards. She said the idea was something her office discussed as part of her recent strategy promoting Massachusetts’ progressive record on LGBTQ+ rights as one of the reasons people should move to the Bay State — particularly people in red states. “We want them to know that they can come to Massachusetts to grow a family, to start a business, to grow a business, and to live a life with the fullness of opportunity that they should have. That right now isn’t happening in some other parts of the country,” Healey told Mullins.
- However, she refuted the idea the billboards are meant as a jab at Govs. Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott (as some outlets have suggested), even if the two Republicans have targeted Massachusetts in their political games. Healey stressed the ads are meant for people in those states who rely on laws protecting LGBTQ+ rights. “These things matter,” she said. “And I think it’s important that we, as a state, market that and be clear to other parts of the country that, right now, have residents and citizens there who are experiencing the curtailing of certain freedoms.”
- How much did this cost? Healey’s office says the state paid $750,000 for a total of 32 billboards: six in Florida, six in Texas and 20 scattered across the Northeast. The Florida/Texas billboards will be up for four weeks, while the Northeast ads will run through late August. Healey’s office is leaving open the possibility of expanding the campaign.
- ICYMI: Healey also made LGBTQ+ rights part of her business pitch during her visit this week to Ireland. You can read her full speech to the Irish Senate here.
Just in time for AC season: WBUR’s Miriam Wasser reports many Eversource customers in Massachusetts will see their electricity supply rates drop by 38% beginning Saturday.
- What it means for your wallet: For households in eastern Massachusetts, the change is expected to lead to an average savings of $58 on your monthly bill. In western Massachusetts, the savings is expected to be $42 a month.
- Not all customers: The rate change only affects the nearly half million customers on Eversource’s “basic supply rate” — not those who get electricity through a municipal aggregation plan or competitive suppliers. Click here (and check out tip No.2) to learn if that means you.
- Go deeper: Read Wasser’s full story to learn why the rate change is happening and what to expect next from electric prices.
Smoke from Canadian wildfires is making its way back down into our neck of the woods, and that means air quality alerts today for western and central Massachusetts, including Worcester.
- Sensitive groups — like people with asthma, older adults and children — should reduce prolonged or heavy outdoor exertion. Here are more tips on protecting yourself from wildfire smoke.
One step to ease the Massachusetts’ teacher shortage? Ease the licensing rules. At least that’s the hope. The state’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted this week to tweak the state’s licensing requirements to create an easier pathway for already-licensed teachers to teach special education and English as a second language, as well as create new licenses for pre-K teachers of students with disabilities. State House News Service has more on the adjusted rules.
- No guarantees: Despite the changes, BESE members don’t expect the teacher shortages to be resolved any time soon. Vice chair Matt Hill said “there’s really little evidence that those are going to magically disappear in the short- to medium-term.”
- Go deeper: Here are six things to know about U.S. teacher shortages — and how to solve them.
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