The Landscape

Frustration with the lack of action on Beacon Hill is growing. Since the end of July, advocates have called for action on racial justice, eviction moratorium and housing rights, and driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants. Additionally, five major pieces of legislation, including an economic development package, transportation bond legislation and a complicated health care bill, remain in conference committee while the state remains without a full operating budget for this year.

Much of this was expected once COVID blew a hole in the normal operations of all business and all states have been waiting for some clarity on federal action, which remains indefinitely stalled. But legislators know the pressure will pick up greatly after voting ends in two weeks.

Governor Charlie Baker refiled his budget proposal last Wednesday after reckoning with $3.6 billion less in state revenue. To fill the hole, Baker’s proposal relies in one-time revenues as well as slashing state spending in noncritical recovery areas. The $45.5 billion proposal does not feature any new taxes and does not include any assumed federal aid from the stalled stimulus talks in Washington. Highlights include spending $1 billion more on Medicaid and $101 million in new funding grants, loans and other small business assistance.

As business struggle to keep the lights on, COVID cases are beginning to rise. Talks of another blanketed shutdown are giving way to targeted closures but many warn they risk perpetuating the disparities of another total shutdown.

The News


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