Lots of fiscal storm clouds

Even as Gov. Charlie Baker is struggling to balance the current fiscal year’s budget and lawmakers are trying to pare back spending in next year’s spending plan, more storm clouds are on the horizon.

Baker said on Monday that the US Senate’s health care bill would cost the state $8.2 billion and cause 264,000 residents to lose their health care coverage by 2025. A similar House bill would cost the state even more.

The Retailers Association of Massachusetts had been prepping a ballot question for next year that would cut the state sales tax, currently set at 6.25 percent. It’s estimated each 1 percentage point reduction in the sales tax would cost the state about $1 billion a year in revenue. At  its May board meeting, the group decided to postpone action and conduct more research, including how a sales tax question “could interplay with other potential measures on the ballot,” said Retailers Association president Jon Hurst in an email.

“The final decision hasn’t been made yet, but the door certainly hasn’t been closed,” Hurst said.

And all this is happening as the economy is doing well. What happens if there is an economic downturn, which would cause state tax revenues to slump even more?

If a federal health care bill passes, the sales tax is cut, or the economy tanks, the debate over the millionaire’s tax on next year’s ballot could shift dramatically. Instead of a soak-the-rich scheme to boost spending on transportation and education, the proposal could become a desperately needed initiative to make the state’s tax code more progressive and maintain existing spending levels.



Gov. Charlie Baker nominated Scott Kafker, the state’s top Appeals Court judge, to a vacant seat on the Supreme Judicial Court, the fifth pick Baker has had in less than three years for the state’s top seven-member court. (Boston Globe)

Lawmakers slam the door shut on reporters and go into secret meetings to try to hash out a Senate-House compromise on marijuana legislation. (Boston Globe)


The New Bedford City Council approved the fiscal 2018 budget after initially voting it down. Two councilors who thought there should be more cuts and one who said the reductions were too deep switched their votes. (Standard-Times)

The head of Fall River’s substance abuse grants program, who was appointed to the position by Mayor Jasiel Correia over the City Council’s objections, charged the city for a four-night stay at the Ritz hotel in New York and rented a pricey SUV for to attend a three-day conference on addiction. (Herald News)


The US Supreme Court allows a modified version of President Trump’s travel ban to take effect until a legal challenge is heard this fall. (Time) Immigrant advocates decry the decision. (Boston Herald)

Sen. Susan Collins of Maine becomes another Republican “no” on the Senate health care bill after Congressional Budget Office analysis finds it would cause 22 million Americans to lose health care coverage. (Boston Globe) Here’s The Upshot’s breakdown of the CBO scorecard. (New York Times) Vox also drills down into the CBO report, and says the plan would raise premium costs and lower coverage quality for low- and middle-income Americans. With a little more heart and passion added in, Gov. Charlie Baker could be a national leader of opposition to the Republican health care makeover in Washington, says Joan Vennochi. (Boston Globe)

An insurance group says Colorado, Oregon, and Washington, all states where pot is legal, had higher rates of accident claims than their neighbors. (Governing)

President Trump’s problems at home are reflected worldwide as a global poll conducted by the Pew Research Center finds only 22 percent of respondents think the controversial commander in chief would do the right thing in international affairs. His best approval ratings come from countries such as Russia, Israel, and the Philippines. (U.S. News & World Report)

US Sen. Ed Markey rips White House adviser Kellyanne Conway for saying those suffering from opioid addiction need to muster the will to kick the habit. (Boston Globe)


Rectrix Aviation plans to launch Worcester-to-the-Cape air service. (Telegram & Gazette)

Single family home prices in Massachusetts hit a record high for the month of May with the average sale price at $370,000. It was the 14th straight month of year-on-year increases, according to the Warren Group. (Patriot Ledger)

The European Union has fined Google a record $2.7 billion in an antitrust ruling for giving its own search services preferential status over competitors. (New York Times)


State Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester died unexpectedly Monday night. (Boston Herald)

Lowell City Solicitor Christine O’Connor says the School Committee is not legally required to vote on the construction of a new high school, setting aside another possible fight over where to locate the facility. The City Council voted 5-4 to locate the school outside the downtown core last week. (Lowell Sun)

The Lowell School Board approves a 9 percent raises for teachers and other employees over three years. (Lowell Sun)


Nurses go on strike at Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield, and they could be going on strike at Tufts Medical Center in Boston as well. (Boston Globe)

U.S. News & World Report is out with its annual rankings of best children’s hospitals and Boston Children’s Hospital tops the list.

The Board of Trustees of Martha’s Vineyard Hospital fired CEO Joseph Woodin after less than a year but sent out a misleading statement indicating he resigned, which Woodin denied. (Cape Cod Times)


MBTA officials discover, apparently by accident, that they are laying two separate fiber optic cables — one strung from post to post and the other underground — along the state’s commuter rail right of way. (CommonWealth)

The Fiscal and Management Control Board takes a go-slow approach on alcohol ads even if it means less revenue. (CommonWealth)

The T is preparing to spend $2.2 million to provide station-to-station bus service when commuter rail lines are shut down for the installation of a crash prevention system. The per-passenger subsidies are large, and officials have no way of knowing whether riders will actually board the slower buses. (CommonWealth)

T officials say the RIDE call center operator was fined $100,000 for failure to meet the terms of its contract. (CommonWealth)

A cashier for a private company working for the Merrimack Valley Regional Transit Authority confesses to stealing $75,000. (Eagle-Tribune)


Elizabeth Turnbull Henry, who was the director of sustainability efforts for Adidas in Canton, will become the new head of the Environmental League of Massachusetts, taking the reins from former state senator George Bachrach who is retiring after 10 years in the post. (Boston Globe)

Southbridge’s health director says he expects the Casella landfill to close within four years now that an expansion of the facility has been rejected. (Telegram & Gazette)


Legal experts who followed the Bella Bond case speculate that the horror of the killing of a 2-year-old child helped win yesterday’s second-degree murder conviction of Michael McCarthy, despite the shaky testimony of the girl’s mother, Rachelle Bond, the chief prosecution witness. (Boston Globe)  Kevin Cullen calls the verdict a “huge, unexpected win for the prosecution.” (Boston Globe)

The former head of the New England Compounding Center, who was found guilty of fraud, conspiracy, and racketeering while being acquitted of second-degree murder in the deaths of 25 people who died from contaminated steroids sold by his Framingham pharmaceutical company, was sentenced to nine years in prison. (MetroWest Daily News)

A judge rebukes two former assistant attorney generals involved in the investigation of drug lab chemist Sonja Farak. The two assistant AGs are currently holding down other state jobs. (MassLive)

A Boston woman has filed suit against Braintree police claiming they arrested her after she called to report being assaulted by her ex-husband, who was a Boston police detective. (Patriot Ledger)


Three CNN staffers resign over retracted story on Russian ties to the Trump administration. (Washington Post)

Did you know the Boston Globe has moved downtown after 59 years in Dorchester? In case you just returned from a sealed biosphere container with no outside contact, Greater Boston documented it.