Like the Celtics, Gateway City legislators are working to finish strong

The Gateway Cities Journal

Like the Celtics, Gateway City legislators are working to finish strong

As the Celtics quietly steeled themselves for the final stage of the banner 18 quest, legislative activity on Beacon Hill reached a crescendo this week. The budget process moved to conference committee, the housing bond bill got its first floor votes, and the joint committee on economic development reported out a redraft of the Governor’s economic development bill. A few observations as we take stock of how Gateway City legislators are working to advance shared policy priorities amidst this flurry of activity:

  • The joint committee on economic development inserted language prioritizing investments in the food innovation cluster in its version of the ED bill. This tweak expands the sectors that will receive priority for funding from a new “tech hubs” account. A recent MassINC Policy Center analysis highlighted food innovation as a key opportunity for Western Massachusetts. In line with the Governor’s ED bill, the redraft still authorizes just $75 million for tech hubs. But the bill now moves to the Bonding Committee, which will have an opportunity to increase the funding limit to a more impactful level.
  • Small businesses are critical to Gateway City growth. The Governor’s economic development bill included new funding for Community Development Financial Institutions, but it was otherwise lacking in small business initiatives. Thankfully, other ideas are percolating in the legislature. Last week, the House Committee on Small Businesses released a new omnibus Act Supporting the Economic Growth of Downtowns and Main Streets. The bill incorporates the Downtown Vitality Act (DVA). The Senate small business committee has also favorably reported out the DVA, so this Gateway Cities Legislative Caucus priority bill remains very much in play.

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  • The debate over the Housing bond bill has largely focused on the transfer tax. But Gateway Cities housing leaders have been more concerned with provisions that would make a major difference when it comes to managing blighted and abandoned property. Governor Healey proposed changes clarifying how communities can use the state’s receivership law to address unsafe building conditions. The House version of the bill incorporates these important updates, which were developed drawing heavily on the expertise of Dina Fein, a former Housing Court judge who is currently serving as a MassINC Senior Fellow.
  • The excitement over strong April tax collections dimmed with revenue down in May, but the state is still running $700 million ahead of expectations and the Millionaire’s Tax Education and Transportation Fund is particularly flush. This has Gateway City leaders calling attention to the underfunding of the Student Opportunity Act, drawing on timely analysis from our friends at the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center.

While technically the legislature has abided by the law, arbitrary caps on inflation mean districts have lost more than $465 million in state assistance, with Gateway Cities absorbing half of the blow. If this issue is not addressed, the lower funding level will get baked into the formula, meaning another generation of Gateway City students will attend underfunded schools throughout their K-12 journey.

MassBudget figures show in FY 25 alone, New Bedford Public Schools will be working with $14 million less than they should receive and Brockton will be nearly $16 million short. Without a fix, Worcester and Springfield will both lose out on more than $25 million. Inflation shouldn’t be an easy way to backout of the commitment the SOA made to adequately resource schools to meet the needs of all students in Massachusetts.

All of these issues, and many others, will be resolved before the formal session wraps up on July 31st. With team effort, the Celtics will bring home another championship and Gateway City legislators will deliver big for their communities.



Brockton Public Schools officials are weighing the need for more teachers against fiscal challenges.

The Lynn City Council schedules a hearing on a bond authorization to purchase the former Eastern Bank Building, potentially as a headquarters for the Frederick Douglass Collegiate Academy, one of the state’s first wall-to-wall Early College high schools.

The Boston Globe looks at how school lunches in Springfield have gotten healthier, tastier, and more sustainable over the past five years with a central kitchen that makes meals from scratch and partners with farmers to incorporate locally grown ingredients.

Springfield selects Sonia Dinnall to serve as the district’s next superintendent.

Northern Essex Community College honors Early College graduates in Haverhill.

The Healey-Driscoll Administration expands universal pre-K in Haverhill, Holyoke, New Bedford, and Westfield.

Latinos for Education is rallying leaders to join them on Beacon Hill next Tuesday to advocate for the Educator Diversity Act. Recent MassINC research shows why this landmark legislation is vital to Gateway Cities.



Holyoke secures millions in federal funding to move to electric school buses.

New Bedford and Fall River will join the ranks of MBTA communities later this year when South Coast Rail opens for service, but neither city will pay assessments to the T.

The Southeastern Regional Transit Authority votes to keep Sunday bus service running in Fall River and New Bedford.

CityLab says social infrastructure gets more people on bikes.


Housing & Economic Development

The Massachusetts Broadband Institute hosts a webinar next Wednesday to help municipalities understand the BEAD challenge process.

The Massachusetts Clean Energy Centers pays $10 million for New Bedford parcels and signs SouthCoast Wind as tenant.

Next City calls midsize cities Big Towns and features them at a big event in Lexington, KY.


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