Skip to content

GET BREAKING NEWS IN YOUR BROWSER. CLICK HERE TO TURN ON NOTIFICATIONS.

X

Warren, Cummings to host student debt forum at UMASS-Boston

PUBLISHED: | UPDATED:

STATE CAPITOL BRIEFS

STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

WARREN, CUMMINGS TO HOST STUDENT DEBT FORUM AT UMASS-BOSTON

Students grappling with higher education costs plan to join Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland for a Congressional forum Thursday at UMass-Boston. According to Warren’s office, total student debt has risen to $1.3 trillion and nearly a million borrowers have fallen behind on loan payments in the last year alone. The 2 p.m. event is part of a Middle Class Prosperity Project launched by members of Congress in February. – Michael Norton/SHNS

LEGISLATURE APPROVES $363 MILLION BUDGET BILL

The Legislature late Tuesday approved and sent to Gov. Charlie Baker’s desk a $363 million spending bill agreed to hours earlier by a six-member conference committee. The bill includes $51.5 million for emergency assistance programs that serve the homeless, $190 million for the Group Insurance Commission, $50 million for snow and ice removal costs, $34.7 million to cover public counsel costs, and $27.4 million for congregate care costs. The bill also raises the threshold of slot machine winnings necessary before players must declare their winnings for tax purposes from the current $600 to $1,200. Gaming regulators and industry officials pressed for that provision, saying it will help keep machines in play and is in line with standards in other states. Baker and legislative leaders say the spending in the midyear budget bill was factored into calculations behind efforts earlier this year to close a $768 million fiscal 2015 budget gap. Joe Finn, executive director of the Massachusetts Housing & Shelter Alliance, said in a statement that the need for the supplemental funding “highlights the critical juncture we have reached in addressing homelessness.” “We need to focus on innovation and helping to provide both families and unaccompanied homeless persons the appropriate housing and services they need upfront, so they need not be homeless. If we do not seek a different way of dealing with housing and poverty, I fear we may only continue to see shelter as the last, the only and very costly resort,” Finn said in a statement. – Michael Norton/SHNS

MASSDOT TO ROLL OUT PERMANENT TRAFFIC SIGNS

State officials plan to begin installing permanent traffic congestion forecasting signage on state highways as a way to encourage drivers to avoid contributing to jams. “Our ability to build our way out of congestion is limited,” Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack told lawmakers gathered at Methuen High School Tuesday for a budgetary hearing. She said, “We think that they’re going to be a critical tool for congestion management.” The Massachusetts Department of Transportation has temporary light-board signs that alert drivers how long it is expected to take to travel a fixed distance. The permanent signs will be in the general vicinity of where the temporary signs are now, Acting Highway Administrator Tom Tinlin told the News Service. All-electronic tolls, aimed at cutting down congestion on the Massachusetts Turnpike, should be installed by 2017, Tinlin told the News Service. – Andy Metzger/SHNS

Join the Conversation

We invite you to use our commenting platform to engage in insightful conversations about issues in our community. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable to us, and to disclose any information necessary to satisfy the law, regulation, or government request. We might permanently block any user who abuses these conditions.