Gov. Maura Healey announced on Boston Public Radio Tuesday that Cambridge will serve as one of three national hubs for ARPA-H, an agency formed under the Biden administration that funds new research into cancer, Alzheimer’s and other diseases.
“They had to go around the whole country and pick areas that were going to be hubs for substantial funding,” she said. “And Massachusetts, we just won it. I’m really proud of that.”
The Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health, or ARPA-H, was created last year and is designed to spur research innovation. For the 2023 fiscal year, the agency was provided with $1.5 billion. The Massachusetts hub will be responsible for helping programs get through regulatory hurdles to bring their innovations to market.
“It's going to be a place where industry — private industry — the state, the federal government, all come together and work on the kinds of breakthroughs and innovations in health care and life sciences that are going to be transformational,” Healey said. “It means a lot for our area.”
Taxes and transparency
Healey spoke on Boston Public Radio just hours before the state’s House and Senate leadership announced a compromise tax relief bill. Much of that relief will come in the form of expanded tax credits for children, disabled adults and seniors, as well as changes to the estate tax.
"I think we're going to see a great package. I am very proud of this. It's something I promised when I was running for governor," Healey said in anticipation of the pending tax relief package. "It's something I talked about early on in our administration. We need tax relief to make Massachusetts more affordable, more competitive, more equitable, and I am pleased to say that we are getting it with this package."
Healey says she’s “very proud” of what's to come.
Details were released later in the day, which will give about nearly $600 million back to Massachusetts residents in its first year then grow to $1 billion by the 2027 fiscal year.
When the governor was asked about State Auditor Diana DiZoglio's crusade to audit the State Legislature — one that the Legislature is resisting — Healey says she “as a general matter promote[s] transparency, promote[s] communication.” But, she says, the decision is with Attorney General Andrea Campbell. (Campbell has yet to make a decision.)
Work permits for migrants
As hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans come to the United States due to instability and unsafe conditions in the country, the Biden administration announced last Wednesday that it would extend “Temporary Protected Status” to nearly half a million Venezuelans already in the United States. The move will ease the path to those migrants more quickly getting work permits.
However, the administration didn't extend this benefit to migrants from other countries.
"I don't know why it was just limited to Venezuelans. Here in Massachusetts, we're seeing a significant number of Haitians, and they, too, should be extended that ability," Healey said.
She asserted that she needs "two things" from the Biden administration to mitigate the issue. Firstly, "temporary work authorization permits," and secondly, federal funding to help schools, health and human services and other areas that will see an increase in demand due to the spike.