Stephen Crosby to Chair Gaming Commission
On Tuesday, Governor Deval Patrick appointed Stephen Crosby as chair of the newly created Gaming Commission. Crosby is the first out of five commissioners that will be selected for the commission, which has a $15 million budget and broad authority to implement and regulate the new casino gambling industry in Massachusetts. Crosby currently serves as Dean of the McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies at UMass Boston. He previously served as Secretary of Administration and Finance under Governor Paul Cellucci and chief of staff to Governor Jane Swift. Crosby also led Governor Deval Patrick’s budget and finance transition team in 2006, and in 2009, Governor Patrick asked Crosby to lead a review of executive reimbursement at the state’s quasi-public agencies.
The Gaming Commission is charged with reviewing and selecting winning applications for each of three casino licenses and one slot parlor license. Attorney General Martha Coakley and Treasurer Steven Grossman will each select a member of the Gaming Commission while the remaining two commissioners will be jointly selected by Governor Patrick, Treasurer Grossman and AG Coakley by March 21, 2012.
Unemployment Rate Falls to 7% in Massachusetts
According to surveys released Thursday morning by Gov. Patrick’s administration, 5,000 jobs were added in Massachusetts in November, marking the second straight month of increased employment. Massachusetts’ unemployment rate of 7% is significantly lower than the national unemployment rate of 8.6%, and is at its lowest since December 2008. The bulk of November’s gains came from a 4,300 job gain in the leisure and hospitality sector and a 3,000 job gain in the trade, transportation and utility sector. Education and health services added 900 jobs and financial activities gained 700 jobs. The professional, scientific and business services sector gained 500 jobs, and miscellaneous services added 400 jobs.
Rep. Brownsberger Wins Primary to Fill Steve Tolman’s Senate Seat Rep. William Brownsberger (D-Belmont) earned 35 percent of the vote in the four-way primary election to select the Sen. Steve Tolman’s successor. Rep. Brownsberger beat three opponents Tuesday and with no Republican or third-party opponents planning to run in the Jan. 10 general election, Brownsberger appears to be confirmed to take office in January 2012. Sen. Steve Tolman (D-Brighton) left the Senate this year to become president of the AFL-CIO of Massachusetts.
Brownsberger beat Rep. Jonathan Hecht (D-Watertown), former firefighter union chief Robert McCarthy and Boston attorney Tim Schofield. The district includes Belmont, Watertown, part of Cambridge’s north side, and the Allston, Brighton and Back Bay areas of Boston.
Patrick Administration Reports Increases in Workforce Training Grants
According to reports released by the Patrick Administration this week, nearly 140 Massachusetts companies have been awarded $11.4 million in grants from the state’s Workforce Training Fund this year. Massachusetts employers estimate that the grants will create 1,700 new jobs and train 13,000 workers in diverse industries. The Workforce Training Fund, which is financed by employers through a surtax on unemployment insurance payments, was overhauled this year to make it a trust fund that can be distributed as needed, instead of once a year. It is no longer subject to annual legislative approval. The Patrick Administrations plans to award $18m in Workforce Training Fund Grants in 2012.
Massachusetts FY2013 Revenue Projection hearing
On Monday, the House and Senate Committees on Ways and Means held a joint hearing to receive testimony on the state’s budget forecast to help them determine the Annual Revenue Forecast. Officials from the Department of Revenue, including Commissioner Amy Pitter, testified that despite a forecast of slower rates of job growth, state tax collections in fiscal year 2013, which begins July 1, 2012, are likely to increase by between 4.4 percent and 4.9 percent. However, the increase in state revenues will be more than offset by the growing cost of “non-discretionary” items like Medicaid, pension obligations and debt service. They anticipate this imbalance will require continued cuts and level funding in areas that have been cut over the last few years.
John Nunnari, Assoc AIA
Executive Director, AIA MA
MA Chapter of American Institute of Architects
290 Congress Street, Suite 200, Boston MA 02110