CHARLIE BAKER

smoking youth cambridge cigarettes tobacco
David Salafia / Creative Commons

This week, the ping-pong game that is the Massachusetts budget moves to the Senate side of the table. The Ways and Means Committee will release its budget recommendations for the fiscal year that begins in less than two months.  

A doctor's hands hold a stethoscope.
Alex Proimos / Creative Commons

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has said that the Republican health care bill, passed last week by the U.S. House, would mean a massive loss of funds to the state. That bill now heads to the U.S. Senate.  Reporter Matt Murphy from the State House News Service joined us to discuss what steps Baker will likely take in reaction.  

Aaron Hernandez, in 2010.
Karen Cardoza / Creative Commons

Following the suicide of former New England Patriot player Aaron Hernandez, who was serving a life sentence for murder at the state's maximum security prison in Shirley, Gov. Charlie Baker said he has faith in his Department of Correction commissioner.

The governor said the number of prison suicides in Massachusetts has declined over the past decade, but said, "Anytime anybody kills themselves in a prison, something clearly went wrong."

The former Southbridge High School, now home to administrative offices for the school district.
Henry Epp / NEPR

Back in January, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker took a moment in his State of the Commonwealth address to mention struggling school districts that have been taken over by the state, a process known as receivership.

"We encourage the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to continue to use this tool," Baker said.

No more districts have been taken over since then, but there are currently three under state leadership: Lawrence, Holyoke and the most recent, Southbridge, a town of about 16,000 people in the central part of the state, on the border with Connecticut.

Exterior of Hampden County Correctional Center in Ludlow, Mass.
File photo / The Republican

New legislation filed Tuesday by Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker would allow those fined by a court a chance to work off the debt through community service, instead being thrown in jail.

In a statement, Baker said the hope is to keep more people from going behind bars just because of their inability to pay.

Richard Dohoney, president of the Berkshire County Bar Association, said the bill would have some positive impacts beyond that.

It's April, and we're now about three months into a new legislative session in Massachusetts, but there's not much to show for it. However, lawmakers have been holding hearings on Governor Charlie Baker's budget proposal, and those will wrap up this week.

For all things Beacon Hill, we spoke with State House News Service reporter Matt Murphy, as we do most Mondays. The Massachusetts House is next in line to put out a budget recommendation. Murphy said we can expect to see that in the next few weeks.

Marijuana activists celebrated outside the Mass. State House on Dec. 15, 2016, the first day pot became legal in the Bay State. Here, Ellen Brown holds a handful of pot.
Gintautas Dumcius / MassLive

Our panel of journalists looks at the big stories in the news.

What made The Short List this week?

A winter storm hit Pittsfield, Mass., on March 14, 2017.
Adam Frenier / NEPR

If forecasters are correct, March won't exactly be going out like a lamb. The winter storm expected to hit New England Friday will further strain the Massachusetts Department of Transportation's budget.

The Massachusetts fiscal year 2017 budget includes $62 million for snow and ice removal. By law, state transportation officials are allowed to go $50 million over

MassDOT said it was already up against that cap two weeks ago and will work with lawmakers to cover all winter clean-up costs.

A map showing the fiber optic in western Massachusetts.
Massachusetts Broadband Institute

The Baker Administration is rolling out a new grant program designed to speed up broadband expansion in rural parts of Massachusetts. $20 million will be available to towns looking to build their own networks.

Before, communities were forced to work with the Massachusetts Broadband Institute on the design phase, with MBI holding back state money for that purpose.

Many town officials, like Brian Hawthorne, who chairs the broadband committee in the Hampshire County community of Plainfield, complained the whole thing was taking too long.

Gov. Charlie Baker in November of 2016.
Sam Doran / State House News Service

The failure in Washington of GOP  healthcare legislation was welcome news to Governor Charlie Baker. The Bay State Republicans said the bill would've cost Massachusetts about $1 billion a year.

As we do most Mondays, we turn to Matt Murphy of the State House News Service for an update from Beacon Hill. Matt said that even with the failure of the federal legislation, Baker's healthcare headache remains.

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