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Healey highlights budget, tax proposals at Springfield Regional Chamber's lunch

Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey (D) speaks with reporters after addressing the Springfield Regional Chamber's Outlook lunch on March 10, 2023.
Paul Tuthill
Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey (D) speaks with reporters after addressing the Springfield Regional Chamber's Outlook lunch on March 10, 2023.

Announces creation of new position- Director of Rural Affairs

Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey was the keynote speaker today at the Springfield Regional Chamber’s Outlook lunch.

The first-term Democratic governor told 700 business leaders and local elected officials that greater Springfield has enormous potential and her administration wants to help the region achieve success.

“A lot is happening in Springfield, a lot of good is happening in Springfield and know that we want to be a partner as a state,” Healey said.

To demonstrate her administration’s commitment to western Massachusetts, Healey brought all her cabinet secretaries and Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll to the event held at the MassMutual Center.

Most of Healey’s 25-minute address was devoted to highlighting her first state budget that she filed last week along with a package of tax cuts.

The spending plan that totals $55.5 billion includes several earmarks for the region’s premier transportation project – east-west rail. There is more than $12 million in the proposed budget for construction work on rail lines around Palmer and Pittsfield. There is also $650,000 for a director and staff to oversee the much-discussed passenger rail enterprise.

“It is super-super important and we are committed to seeing this through working with our state and federal delegations to make this happen as quickly as possible,” Healey said.

Healey said Massachusetts has lost its economic lead when it comes to affordability and competitiveness. But the $750 million in tax cuts can help fix that, she said.

“Our tax plan really does go to the issue of affordability that every region of the state is struggling with now,” Healey said.

Speaking with reporters later, Healey strongly defended the tax proposals from criticism by progressive groups that the estate tax and capital gains tax cuts are a giveaway to the wealthy. She pointed to the provisions for a new $600 per child tax credit and higher offsets for renters and low-income senior homeowners.

“It’s very progressive when you think about who that tax relief is aimed at,” Healey said.

Also while in western Massachusetts Friday, Healey announced the creation of a new position in the administration – Director of Rural Affairs. She has not named anyone to the post.

“We hope to fill that very soon,” Healey said. “We really excited about this position.”

Lt. Gov. Driscoll also commented on the new position.

“ A lot of the funding (the state) currently provides is based on metrics that don’t work in a smaller town,” Driscoll said. “This will help us speak a language with our rural communities.”

Healey has yet to name a new general manager for the MBTA as frustration mounts over safety and service issues on the greater Boston area’s public transit system.

She will also have to name a housing secretary once the legislature gets around to approving the new cabinet-level position.

The record-setting tenure of Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno. The 2011 tornado and its recovery that remade the largest city in Western Massachusetts. The fallout from the deadly COVID outbreak at the Holyoke Soldiers Home. Those are just a few of the thousands and thousands of stories WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill has covered for WAMC in his nearly 17 years with the station.