At the time of this writing, candidates’ signatures are being verified for federal and statewide offices as election season continues to shape up. The Chamber has engaged with candidates for the Governor’s race and the major constitutional offices. Efforts have included interviews with the candidates on our Inside North Central Massachusetts Podcast: Election Series, which is available on our website as well as Apple and Spotify. The Chamber is also monitoring a number of other races in North Central Massachusetts. The region’s two Congressional delegates are expected to face challengers this November, and in addition to at least two open seats, a number of our State legislative delegation will also face opponents in November.
In April, Governor Charlie Baker signed a supplemental budget for FY22. One of the biggest impacts for our members was the extension of outdoor dining and to-go cocktails through April 1, 2023. The midyear spending bill also included an additional $700 million to be directed to the ongoing COVID-19 response and $100 million for road repairs. The Governor also filed a $3.5 billion economic development bill that, if passed, would enable new infrastructure and jobs, and invest in every city and town in the Commonwealth. The proposed Act Investing in Future Opportunities for Resiliency, Workforce, and Revitalized Downtowns (or FORWARD) contains a significant set of opportunities to advance community and economic development, including a number of shovel-ready projects in cities and towns across the Commonwealth, while ensuring that every community would receive at least $250,000 in funding, although a number of communities in our footprint would be poised to receive a larger amount.
After the Governor released his $48.5 billion budget proposal for FY23, the Chamber spent time engaging with House delegates while they crafted their $49.7 billion version of the budget in the latter half of April. The Chamber also attended a roundtable with Senate President Karen Spilka at the MassHire North Central Career Center. The roundtable, organized by Senator John Cronin, provided the region’s stakeholders the opportunity to engage the Senate President on a number of issues facing the region including the need for an increase in resources for English language learners in education, the ongoing shortage of available workers, and the need to further support initiatives to develop the workforce and talent pipeline. In late May, the Chamber engaged the region’s Senate delegation in several priority areas including workforce development, economic development, and tourism before they unveiled their $49.9 billion budget. The budget now moves onto conference committee where differences between the House and Senate will be reconciled.
In addition to the budget discussions, the Chamber continues to monitor Governor Baker’s $700 million tax relief proposal released earlier this year along with his $1.7 billion proposed supplemental budget unveiled in May. While attempts to suspend the state’s gas tax have been thwarted, there is hope that the Governor’s relief package or something comparable could pass in the legislature. The Department of Revenue announced that April tax collections came in more than $3 billion more than what was collected in April 2021 and more than $2 billion above their own monthly benchmark. Other big issues that are still pending before the legislature include sports betting, mental health, round 2 of the ARPA budget, and climate and energy policy.
The Chamber is continuing to work to advance North Central Massachusetts through multiple initiatives contained in the One North Central regional economic development plan. Senator Cronin spearheaded an effort to secure funding in the first round of ARPA funding that will aid us in reconvening the education compact to work on initiatives surrounding workforce development and developing a talent pipeline. Fitchburg and Gardner, along with the Chamber’s economic development arm, are also contributing funds to help with a new initiative aimed at attracting new investment to the region.
If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact Travis Condon, the Chamber’s public affairs manager, at 978.353.7600, ext. 224; or via email at email@example.com.