Digest 12/14/20

The Landscape

Members of the Electoral College will meet today at their respective state capitols to cast their votes for the next President of the United States. Massachusetts’ presidential electors meet this afternoon with Secretary of State Bill Galvin at the State House to cast the state’s electoral votes for President-elect Biden. Once the votes are cast, they are sent to Congress, where both houses will convene on January 6th to count the votes. In 32 states, electors are required to vote for the popular vote winner. If at least one member of the House or Senate objects in writing to some electoral votes, the chambers meet separately to debate the issue. With the Democratically led House of Representatives, it is unlikely there will be any objections.

In the seven weeks since the state’s eviction moratorium ended, eviction filings have climbed in suburban communities at a higher rate than that of cities. The trend appears to highlight yet another way the COVID-19 pandemic is disproportionally effecting communities that were struggling before the public health crisis. Highly populated cities like Boston are assisted, at least in part, by state or federal programs but smaller cities across the state have fewer resources to fend off evictions. While several additional housing operators signed similar commitments to the one pushed by the Mayor, the state and federal governments so far haven’t provided much in the way of support for landlords and property owners, many of whom in large Massachusetts cities are small owners facing similar pandemic challenges.

Governor Baker signed the $45.9 billion FY21 budget late Friday afternoon but returned proposals to expand abortion access and, separately, amended the hotly contested police accountability bill. It is up to the legislature to attempt a veto override or to go back to the drawing board on both pieces of policy.

Economists and budget experts will testify virtually at Tuesday’s Joint Consensus Revenue Hearing on state tax collections marking the beginning of the FY22 budget cycle. The annual hearing is important for municipal officials because it provides insights into the direction of the economy and anticipated state revenues available to fund municipal and school aid programs for the coming fiscal year.

The MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board meets today to vote on a wide-ranging package of service cuts that have the potential to the reshape the T, now facing a massive deficit from ridership decline due to COVID. While the final proposal has yet to emerge, MBTA officials indicated they may rethink the original service cuts that included eliminated weekend commuter rail service, ferries, 25 bus routes and cutting subway service by 20 percent.

The News

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2020-12-15T10:44:38+00:00