Nipping and tucking
Charlie Baker is the state’s nip and tuck governor.
State revenues were better than expected in May, but Massachusetts still faces an estimated $439 million shortfall that has to be closed in less than 30 days. No problem, said the governor. His administration will do some “nipping and tucking” to address the situation.
The MBTA is facing a host of financial challenges, including a pension system that seems to be out of control. No problem, said Baker, who says MBTA management has shown that “there are ways to do things smarter and better and cheaper.” Translation: Nipping and tucking works.
Slow and steady. Incremental change. That’s the Baker way. It’s what voters like about him, and it’s what drives Democrats crazy.
Rosenberg for more than a year has been building the case for the millionaire’s tax, the constitutional amendment that would impose a 4 percent surcharge on incomes greater than $1 million. House Speaker Robert DeLeo, usually Baker’s ally in Big Three negotiations, is siding with Rosenberg on the millionaire’s tax. Even members of Baker’s own administration quietly seem to favor it.
But Baker keeps nipping and tucking. Is he doing what his mentor William Weld did back in 1990? As a candidate for governor, Weld opposed tax increases, but once he was elected he used most of the revenues from those tax increases to balance the budget and weather the financial storm. Or does Baker truly believe that state government in Massachusetts doesn’t need more money?
“There are a lot of people that have spent that millionaire’s tax six ways to Sunday already and it hasn’t even made it to the ballot yet,” Baker told WCVB on Sunday. “I think what we ought to do is focus on what we need to do to balance out fiscal ’17, which ends in about a month, and put a balanced budget in place for fiscal ’18 and not go back to the taxpayers thinking that they should be the source of all our solutions.”
He said much the same last week when asked about new revenue for the T. “For now, I think we should keep working the way we’ve been working,” he said. In other words, more nipping and tucking.
There is a good chance the Legislature will take a final vote on the so-called millionaire’s tax next week. (State House News)
The Beverly City Council votes 7-0 to bar the sale of recreational marijuana at least until the end of next year. Beverly voters approved the ballot question legalizing recreational marijuana by a 54-44 margin. (Salem News) Sturbridge Town Meeting also barred the sale of recreational marijuana for 18 months, but rejected a proposed prohibition on any and all pot businesses. (Telegram & Gazette) Lenox struggles with whether to approve a medical marijuana cultivation and distribution facility, which would eventually open the door to recreational sales. (Berkshire Eagle)
A number of former Somerville High School students have testified in civil lawsuit that, contrary to the claims by Mayor Joe Curtatone and other city officials that an indecent assault on several students at a city-run sports camp in the Berkshires four years ago was an isolated incident, hazing incidents occurred at the camp that same weekend prior to the incident in question and also the previous summer. (Boston Globe).
Eversource has an agreement to buy the private water supplier Aquarion, which services a number of Massachusetts towns, for $1.7 billion, a deal that could have a major impact on Hingham’s four-year suit to buy its system from the water company. (Patriot Ledger)
A planned housing development in West Bridgewater that has drawn opposition in Brockton because it would have entrances in the neighboring city has been put on hold after Brockton laid claim to part of the property. (The Enterprise)
A Quincy police captain testifying in the trial of a fired lieutenant charged with defrauding the department through double-dipping said no higher-ups ever monitored officers working details and regular shifts and no one other than Thomas Corliss was ever investigated for the actions. (Patriot Ledger)
Westport selectmen are looking at what steps can be taken to address the increasing problem of dog waste in the town’s Beech Grove Cemetery. (Herald News)
With his Monday morning Twitter rant, President Trump “may have irretrievably undermined his lawyers’ efforts to persuade the Supreme Court to reinstate his executive order limiting travel from six predominantly Muslim countries.” (New York Times)
The Globe and Herald both denounce Trump’s Twitter attack against the mayor of London as beneath the dignity of the office he holds, and express incredulity at his comments on a Muslim travel ban that undermine his own legal efforts on behalf of such restrictions.
A classified report from the National Security Agency says Russian military operatives attempted to hack a voting software firm and sent phishing emails to more than 100 local election officials just days before the 2016 presidential election. (The Intercept) A 25-year-old intelligence contractor from Georgia has been charged with espionage after she allegedly printed out the report and sent it to The Intercept. (New York Times)
Trump will not invoke executive privilege to block the planned testimony on Thursday of former FBI director James Comey before a Senate committee investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election. (Boston Herald)
A man angry about being denied assistance at a municipal office in Augusta, Maine, releases bed bugs that shut down the facility. (Governing)
Get ready for the Elizabeth Warren action figure. (Boston Globe)
Mohamad Ali, the CEO of Carbonite, and Alan Clayton-Matthews, an associate professor of urban policy and economics at Northeastern University, coauthor an op-ed urging passage of the millionaire’s tax in 2018. (Boston Globe)
The Trump Organization announced creation of a new Americana-themed, budget hotel chain inspired by the First Family’s campaign experiences staying in down-market accommodations. (New York Times)
A biology teacher at Blackstone Valley Regional Technical Vocational High School who suffers from ALS was terminated from the job after he ran out of sick days just 103 days shy of the 10-year employment mark that would have qualified him for full pension and health benefits. (Greater Boston)
Lots of opinions on the decision by Harvard, first reported by The Harvard Crimson, to rescind admission offers to 10 applicants because of online posts they made, with Joan Vennochi calling the move ironic in light of Harvard president Drew Gilpin Faust’s commencement address last month in defense of free speech and debate. (Boston Globe) Nestor Ramos thinks the school went too far, considering research on the still-forming judgment skills of people in their late teens and early 20s. (Boston Globe)
A Suffolk Superior Court judge has given the green light to a suit by two Falmouth physicians against state law enforcement officials to allow doctors to give aid-in-dying to terminally ill patients without fear of criminal charges. (Cape Cod Times)
Vertex Pharmaceuticals is planning to ramp up its research and development work on treatments for cystic fibrosis, the crushing genetic disorder for which the company already has two approved drugs. (Boston Globe)
Two Boston city councilors want to to see the city open a “safe injection site” for IV drug users, but Mayor Marty Walsh takes a dim view of the idea. (Boston Herald)
The MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board is moving ahead with a plan to accept money and workers from local businesses. The money would likely go for programs designed to recruit and retain employees. (CommonWealth)
The MBTA, admitting close to half of its commuter rail locomotives are in bad shape, is planning to spend close to $60 million overhauling 39 vehicles. (CommonWealth) To reduce the noise levels at a Haverhill layover area for idling commuter trains, T officials agreed to get rid of the “screamers,” trains that make a scream-like noise when they start up. (Eagle-Tribune)
T tidbits: Advocacy groups oppose Brian Shortsleeve’s move to the Fiscal and Management Control Board, the T finds a way to shave $4.3 million off of a ferry contract, and a Chelsea-to-South Station (via Seaport District) bus service is scheduled to start next April. (CommonWealth)
The MBTA is shutting down commuter rail service north of Salem later this year, and its last-minute plan to provide substitute bus service as a replacement is getting a chilly reception on the North Shore. (Gloucester Times)
President Trump is calling for privatizing the country’s air traffic controllers under a self-funded nonprofit entity under his trillion-dollar infrastructure plan. (U.S. News & World Report)
Former state senator Joan Menard is one of two people who will have bridges in Fall River renamed in their honor even though she was from nearby Somerset. (Herald News)
The Trump administration has allowed the Cape Cod National Seashore Advisory Commission to resume meeting after a month-long suspension ordered by the Department of Interior to review similar commissions around the country as part of the transition. (Cape Cod Times)
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says the world’s oceans are under threat, citing one study suggesting that plastic garbage may outweigh fish by 2050. (Associated Press)
The Springfield Redevelopment Authority, MGM, Peter Picknelly, and Winn Development come to terms on a deal to refurbish an historic building at 31 Elm Street in Springfield, but a lot of unknowns remain. (MassLive)
The trial begins of a Charlestown lawyer facing criminal charges in connection with allegedly piloting his boat while drunk. A woman on the boat had her arm severed off by the boat’s motor.
A South Coast woman opts for a bench trial on involuntary manslaughter charges in connection with allegations that she encouraged an 18-year-old Mattapoisett boy to kill himself. (Boston Herald)
MEDIAThe Wall Street Journal blocked Google users from gaining access to free content, which helped boost paid subscriptions. But that benefit came with a big loss, as traffic from Google plummeted 44 percent because Google’s algorithm downplays content that isn’t free. (Bloomberg)
The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth’s radio station WUMD will be heard online only at the end of the month after receiving FCC approval to sell its signal for $1.5 million to Rhode Island Public Radio. (Standard-Times)