Every Monday, GBH News’ Quota Editor Matt Baskin joins GBH’s all things considered Let’s take a look at next week’s biggest news. Baskin tells host Arun Rath that city and state politics will be covered this week with news from Boston Mayor’s girlfriend Michelle Wu and Governor Maura Healey. Plus ongoing infrastructure issues for state projects that continue to lose federal funding.
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Arun Lass: So what’s first on this week’s list?
Matt Baskin: Michelle Wu is first on our list. This week, she will give her first state address Wednesday night from her MGM Music Hall by Fenway Park. Wu, of course, took office later that year in 2021 — she didn’t give the city status in January 2022, because she had only been in office for a few months. The tenure of over a year has been intense. She had a lot of work to do. The ongoing troubles at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Cass, the legal battle over the city’s vaccine mandate for workers, the school district’s near transition to state trusteeship, and contract negotiations with the police department she’s trying to reform.
But what’s getting most attention right now, and I think you’ll learn more from the mayor’s speech, is the mayor’s efforts to bring back rent control. She calls it rent stabilization. Massachusetts banned Rent Her Control about 30 years ago. It was the voters themselves who abolished it through the 1994 voting initiative. As mayor of the state’s largest city, Mayor Wu is once again making choices. There aren’t many details yet, but we do know that she wants to tie rent increases to inflation and limit rent increases to 10% each year.
Getting this done is not easy. She has to convince the city council first, but she already knows that some councilors are reluctant. She also needs to get this through Beacon Hill. As a self-government petition, it requires approval from the Massachusetts House of Representatives and Senate, as well as Governor Maura Healy. In short, Boston City Hall reporter Saraya Wintersmith covers Mayor Wu’s city, how she put together a rent control (or rent stabilization) plan and how she received it.
Russ: Well, you mentioned Governor Healy. Housing was one of her priorities after taking office. Looking at the state level, what’s on the radar this week at the state level?
Baskin: First of all, the budgeting process is about to begin. This will be the governor’s first go-round. This is your first chance to really lay out your spending priorities. At hearings scheduled for tomorrow, the Healy Administration and Congressional budget makers will hear from economists about what the state can expect in terms of revenue for the fiscal year that begins in July.
My point is that the budget process is a long process. The Massachusetts will cover this over the next few months as he misses the July 1 deadline all too often and things won’t be finished until later in the summer. But it will give us hard evidence that Congress really cares, and that the new governor really cares.
Another major issue in the states being rolled out is the start of sports betting. Been coming for a long time, but suddenly it starts next week. Encore Boston Harbor (formerly Wynn Boston, a casino in Everett) will hold an event on Wednesday to explain exactly how this works, at least at their venue. Also joining us is Morning His reporter Mark Hartz.
Russ: Speaking of budget priorities, I had to ask about infrastructure. In particular, I’ve heard about the troubled plans to replace the bridge to Cape Cod. We’ve also heard of plans to convert the Mas Pike through Allston.
Baskin: In both cases you just mentioned, Massachusetts went looking for federal funding to help complete these projects. . Our transportation reporter, Bob Sea, has this covered, as do his colleagues at our sister store, WCAI, on Cape Cod, and we’ve got some info on where these two projects go from here. I have a very big open question. I actually have a meeting tomorrow night about plans to redesign Cape Bridge. We are at the conference and have news to share.