© 2024 New England Public Media

FCC public inspection files:

For assistance accessing our public files, please contact hello@nepm.org or call 413-781-2801.
PBS, NPR and local perspective for western Mass.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Massachusetts is taking part in Super Tuesday, but it's looking pretty sleepy

Secretary of State William Galvin, Massachusetts' top elections official, holds a pre-primary news conference in 2020.
Sam Doran
State House News Service
Secretary of State William Galvin, Massachusetts' top elections official, holds a pre-primary news conference in 2020.

The Massachusetts presidential primary is on Tuesday, but voters won't just see the top candidates on their ballots.

Chris Lisinski of the State House News Service describes what the state's voters should expect.

Chris Lisinski, SHNS: Obviously, the race for president is going to be the top of the ballot tomorrow. Not exactly a wide-open race — President Joe Biden is basically going to cruise to the party's nomination for reelection, and all signs are indicating that former President Donald Trump is going to cruise to the Republican ticket, setting up a rematch of the 2020 contest.

These ballots, however, also include races for party committee members. So Republican and Democratic state party committee — those are pretty interesting, especially over on the Republican side, where some conservatives in the party are hopeful that they can get enough of their slate of committee members reelected, effectively to seize control of the Mass. GOP back from its new leadership.

Carrie Healy, NEPM: Hundreds of thousands of Massachusetts voters have already cast early ballots by mail and, to a lesser extent, in person. And we've heard from local officials that this is all a lot of extra work and expense. Chris, has that come up in budget conversations?

Not particularly. You know, there will be state money to help cover this, but early voting hours are required by state law in every single community, set explicitly. So, this is the kind of thing, like many other things, that the state kind of sets it, forgets it, and then puts a little bit of money toward it.

It's March. The financial outlook of the commonwealth is much different than it has been for many years. Consistently, tax revenues are coming in with lower than expected collections, and there's a lot of uncertainty into what's ahead for fiscal year 2025. Currently, lawmakers are gathering insights at hearings held around the state, but those end soon. So, what's the status of that?

We've got a few more hearings left to dive into specific parts of Gov. Healey's budget. The way that these are going is that every one of the hearings is zeroed in on a specific topic or small list of topics in the spending plan.

Once March is over, it'll officially become House budget season. The House will roll out its own spending plan in April, approve it usually the week after Patriots Day, and then the Senate will roll out its own version in May.

And then it's just into the black hole that is conference committee negotiations, which could take two weeks — or really more like eight weeks, based on the past few years that we've seen.

And separately, Healey's proposed to give communities more flexibility to raise certain taxes. That was in front of the revenue committee last week. In part, it would allow cities and towns to raise local taxes on hotel rooms and restaurant meals, and was created, of course, to help municipalities pay for services like schools and roads. Municipal leaders say they could use the extra funds. So, were lawmakers also warm to the idea?

Not particularly. Members who were on the revenue committee asked some questions that signaled they're feeling pretty skeptical about the idea, pretty cool to the idea, which makes sense. You know, giving cities and towns the ability to increase taxes even further is not exactly a politically popular position, even if municipal officials are convinced that it would be a net benefit.

So, will lawmakers take that feedback that they heard and managed to reshape the bill? What's ahead?

Yeah, I would say that they are very likely to produce something that's at least a little bit different than what Gov. Healey offered. This is, you know, always how it goes. The exact proposal the governor files almost never makes it through unaltered. There's really a lot of opportunity here for the House and Senate to sort of put their own stamp on whatever kind of municipal support bill eventually gets back to the governor's desk.

Finally, the Massachusetts House and Senate have named their negotiators to a compromise gun bill. They include state Rep. Carlos Gonzalez of Springfield. Chris, what are the main obstacles to an agreement and when do you expect one to surface?

Both the House and Senate are very interested in implementing some kind of update to the state's gun laws. That much we know.

But there's a lot of different policy approaches across the two bills that lawmakers are going to have to work out and try and find common ground if they actually want to achieve that. Things like where it would be illegal to carry firearms, or who is allowed to petition the court for an emergency risk protective order — sometimes known as the state's red flag law.

I don't particularly think this is going to be an easy set of negotiations because there are enough pretty substantial policy differences. Not to mention, this process got off on the wrong foot to begin with, when House and Senate Democrats sparred with each other over the basic procedure they should follow to approve this.

So, I'm not anticipating a compromise to be quick here, whether it's all the way up until the July 31 end of session or a little bit before that. But who knows?

Carrie Healy hosts the local broadcast of "Morning Edition" at NEPM. She also hosts the station’s weekly government and politics segment “Beacon Hill In 5” for broadcast radio and podcast syndication.
Related Content