Gov. Maura Healey says she’s “anxious” to sign into law an overdue spending bill that will put money toward the state’s strained emergency shelter system, the MassHealth insurance program, special education, flood relief and more.
The nearly $3-billion bill has stalled amid a dispute between House and Senate Democrats over how to best handle $250 million in shelter funding.
Lawmakers hope to resolve the disagreement in private talks between the two branches. Also tied up in the bill are raises for tens of thousands of public employees who covered by more than 90 collective bargaining agreements.
In a Boston Public Radio interview Monday, Healey said the state and county workers waiting for their raises — many of whom have been waiting for months — are on her mind.
“We need that budget to come through,” she said. “We've got a lot of workers who are counting on that, who we bargained in good faith for and were able to secure raises for the first time in many, many years. So we've got to make good on that. And so there's certainly an urgency, and I hope we can get it done this week.”
Lawmakers are only meeting for the rest of the year in informal sessions. Bills must pass unanimously in informal sessions, so legislative negotiators face a steeper climb of getting each of their colleagues on board. If the bill isn’t passed by Jan. 2, 2024, Healey and lawmakers will need to start from scratch.
“I'm anxious to sign something, and I just hope it comes soon because people need it,” Healey said. “Our residents need it. Our communities need it. Our businesses need it.”
On migrant work authorization
The state’s emergency shelters are stretched beyond their capacity accommodating an influx of migrant families that have arrived in Massachusetts. Healey said the families have lawfully entered the country, and her administration has taken several steps to help connect them with work.
“We’ve been after the Biden administration for support, financial and otherwise, and we were able to run a clinic last week where we processed 1,000 people for work authorizations,” she said. “We have that clinic ongoing this week as well. That’s really important because so many of the people who have come here, they all want to work, and we’ve got so many jobs that we need to fill.”
On not disclosing her travel plans
Healey declined to go into detail on her decision to stop providing advance notice of out-of-state travel. The lieutenant governor serves as acting governor when the governor is away from Massachusetts, and past governors have typically let the press and public know when that switch is occurring.
The Boston Globe reported earlier this month that Healey’s office, citing “security concerns,” is no longer advising her travel ahead of time, but will continue to make her calendar available after the fact to media through public records requests.
Asked Monday if the security concerns were related to an incident where neo-Nazis gathered and chanted outside her home last month, Healey said she was not going to discuss security matters.
“I’ll leave that to my team and executive protection,” she said, later adding: “I always provide my public calendar.”
On the 2024 election
Healey, an Arlington Democrat, serves on an advisory board for President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign.
She said she’s “absolutely” behind Biden's candidacy and sees high stakes in next year’s election. Former President Donald Trump, whose administration Healey repeatedly sued in her prior role as Massachusetts attorney general, has been leading polls on the Republican side.
Healey encouraged voters to “get yourself informed” about Trump’s policies and past actions.
“We're a nation of tremendous diversity and diversity of political viewpoints. That's OK,” Healey said. “But it's not OK if you have somebody in charge who is going to continue to deny elections, commit fraud in so many different ways and do things that are so destabilizing to our role and influence in the world — to say nothing of the effect that it’s had on the lives of Americans.”