The Codcast: State economy hot, but not tax revenues

The Massachusetts economy is humming along. The unemployment rate fell to 3.9 percent in August, its lowest level since 2001. But state tax revenues are not keeping pace.  They fell so far behind the level that had been forecasted that the Baker administration is now trying to clean up a $575 million budget shortfall from the previous fiscal year.
“The magnitude of the shortfall is unprecedented,” said a Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation report released earlier this week. “Not since fiscal year 2009, the height of the Great Recession, have collections over a five-month period slumped by so much and never in the midst of an economic recovery.”

What’s going on? We explore that issue with Eileen McAnneny, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, and Alan Clayton-Matthews, an associate professor at Northeastern University. Both of them conduct state revenue forecasts and work with state officials to develop a consensus forecast.



Gov. Charlie Baker’s office, which says it launched an investigation in late August of allegations of threats of retaliation against an energy and environmental affairs staffer whose fiance planned to run against a Republican state senator, knew of the charges three months ago. State Dems are pouncing, with the party executive director calling for the resignation or firing of environmental affairs secretary Matthew Beaton. (Boston Herald) A Herald editorial seems not too far behind, saying if allegations are true, it’s time to “start cleaning house” at the environment office.

Howie Carr says Baker’s move to hire his campaign driver in a cushy six-figure state job is part of the state’s fine tradition of hack hiring. (Boston Herald)

Gun makers and gun shops have filed a federal lawsuit challenging Attorney General Maura Healey’s crackdown on “copycat” assault weapons that she says are banned under state law. (Boston Globe)

Remember former State House lobbyist Richard “Dickie McDonough, who was shipped off to federal prison in the DiMasi corruption scandal? He’s baaack. (Boston Globe)


Officials break ground for a new $200 million courthouse complex in Lowell. (Lowell Sun)

New Bedford city councilors put on hold a proposal to ban the public use of marijuana, opting to wait until after the November 8 election for the results of the ballot question to legalize adult recreational use. (Standard-Times)

A long blighted former Springfield car dealership is slated for sale to a developer, but details of the plans for the site aren’t yet being revealed. (The Republican)

Salem is the latest community to propose a ban on plastic bags. (Salem News)

Mayor Marty Walsh says Boston Police Commissioner William Evans has his full support; the leader of a minority police officers’ association says “our feelings would not be hurt to see someone else in that office.” (Boston Herald)


The Charlotte, North Carolina, police chief says a video of the shooting of a black man by one of his officers that has triggered violent protests is not definitive but appears to support the police version of the incident but he still refuses to release the tape. (U.S. News & World Report)

A Tulsa police officer was charged with first-degree manslaughter after she allegedly shot and killed an unarmed black man who appeared to have his hands raised in the air. (New York Times)

Hackers release hundreds of emails stolen from the private account of a young Democratic operative that details the schedules and movements of Vice President Joe Biden, Michelle Obama, and Hillary Clinton, along with names and cellphone numbers of Secret Service agents. (New York Times)


Erstwhile Republican Bill Weld, who declared himself a “Libertarian for life” when handed the party’s vice presidential nomination this summer, donated $450 to Republican Chris Sununu, who is running against a Democrat and a Libertarian for governor of New Hampshire. (Boston Globe)

An internal poll puts Boston Mayor Marty Walsh’s favorable rating at 74 percent, a number the mayor’s minions no doubt hope will ward off a serious challenge when he faces his first reelection next year. (Boston Globe)

Anonymous donors are behind one-third of the commercials in Senate races around the country. (Salem News)


One day after opening its doors to a new distribution center in Fall River, Amazon has decided to double its workforce at the facility to 1,000 workers. (Herald News)

A state environmental ruling may force developers to scrap or scale back plans for a hotel on Lewis Wharf in Boston. (Boston Herald)


Former Springfield College president Richard Flynn got a $4.1 million exit bonus when he retired in 2013. (Boston Globe)

The Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center may get transferred from under the control of Roxbury Community College to the University of Massachusetts Boston. (Boston Globe)

State education officials approved initial applications from four proposed charter schools to move to the second level of the process but turned down an application from a California nonprofit to start a charter school for elementary children in Brockton. (The Enterprise)

Enrollment at for-profit colleges is rapidly declining as more scrutiny is placed on the industry. (Associated Press)


Quincy police say they’ve seen a dramatic spike in opioid overdoses in the last week but don’t know what’s behind it. (Patriot Ledger)


Gov. Charlie Baker is preparing to roll out new incentives for solar power that would put a ceiling on subsidies while working to bring down costs. (CommonWealth)

An animal rescue team captured a manatee off Falmouth to save it from the cooling waters and will ship the sea cow back to Florida. (Cape Cod Times)


Braintree’s police chief will retire next month amidst a burgeoning evidence room scandal that could jeopardize thousands of cases. (Boston Globe)

Boston’s main police union is opposing Commissioner William Evans’s proposal to have officers wear name tags, citing it as a safety risk, even though officers in New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago have worn name tags for decades, as do the State Police. (Boston Globe)

The alleged con man wanted for bilking investors in a plan to buy and renovate the former Beachcomber lounge in Quincy had met with Mayor Thomas Koch to go over plans for the iconic venue. (Patriot Ledger)