Healey’s First Budget Themes: Spending Increases, Tax Relief


Sen. Michael Barrett, who co-chairs the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy, said Healey’s fiscal 2024 budget proposal is “the best executive branch budget I’ve ever seen” and is “a leap over anything a governor has proposed before.”

“Making inroads against global warming is a massive job, and here’s a budget that takes up the nitty-gritty, the nuts and bolts,” the Lexington Democrat said. “It calls for training more people because we’re short on everybody from HVAC techs to solar installers to electricians to electrical engineers. It puts the Mass Clean Energy Center on a stable financial footing for the first time ever. It commits to protecting water supplies because PFAS are a major threat. It bumps up funding for DCR and the state parks, which are starved for attention. All of which takes money, so, yes, this budget asks for money.”


Healey files a ‘unicorn’ of a state budget

BRUCE MOHL, Commonwealth Journal

The budget also calls for the hiring of 28 full-time environmental justice employees across the various agencies within the executive office and the establishment of a environmental training program for governmental and nongovernmental agencies.

Sen. Michael Barrett of Lexington, the co-chair of the legislative committee dealing with energy and climate change issues, hailed the focus on the environment and climate. “For efforts in this area, this is the best executive branch budget I’ve ever seen. It’s a leap over anything a governor has proposed before,” Barrett said.


Healey’s proposed budget a boon to education and the environment

Katie Lannan, GBH News

The major funding hike prompted Sen. Mike Barrett, a Lexington Democrat who co-chairs the Telecommunications, Energy and Utilities Committee, to call Healey’s plan “the best executive branch budget I’ve ever seen” and “a leap over anything a governor has proposed before.”


Massachusetts energy efficiency programs should shift focus to emissions, critics say

Energy News Network

Barrett’s bill would essentially reorganize the program from the ground up. The proposal would create an entity dubbed the “commonwealth clean heat initiative” — though Barrett said he would expect day-to-day operations to continue under the brand name Mass Save, which has wide recognition in the state.


Lawmakers, advocates call for faster rollout on local fossil fuel bans

GBH News

Barrett argues that urgency is essential, beyond the impacts of just the first 10 cities and towns, because the hope is that data gathered from the pioneering communities will help create a roadmap forward for how to meet the state’s ambitious climate goals.

“The additional delays anticipated by the draft regulation mean that we will remain in the dark about how to move forward on our climate strategy for additional months,” the senator said. “We’re hoping the state hears us and hastens the process along.”


An Interview with State Senator Michael J. Barrett

Concord Bridge

State Senator Michael J. Barrett (D-Third Middlesex) describes himself as a “child of Camelot” whose passion for public service was first awakened by the idealism of John F. Kennedy. Barrett has represented Concord, as well as Bedford, Carlisle, Chelmsford, Lincoln, Waltham, Weston, and a large part of Lexington and Sudbury since being elected to 2012. He also served an earlier stint as a state senator for Cambridge and as a state representative for his hometown of Reading.

Barrett likens his work as a state senator to being a jack-of-all-trades, handling everything from individual complaints such as frustration with commuter rail and bus service,to going to bat for local businesses, for instance, helping Plug Power, a Concord based supplier of green hydrogen, bid for special storage incentives, and legislating on climate change as the Senate’s chair of the Climate Policy Committee.


Proposed hangar expansion at Hanscom draws interest from surrounding towns at Feb. 6 forum

Lexington Observer

During the webinar, State Senator Mike Barrett (D-3rd Middlesex) strongly challenged the plan primarily on environmental grounds, saying “I’m just channeling my constituents’ general concern — but four towns surrounding this airport are striving on their own to go ‘green’ and to be sensitive in all kinds of ways, from housing to transportation to the way they procure electric power, to be sensitive about emissions … But private jet travel, whether by corporations or by individuals, despite the improvements made in jet propulsion technology, are exceedingly emissions-heavy, per capita, per dollar, on any metric you might choose.”

Barrett characterized Massport as “intent on building its private jet business” and said he wanted “to register that foundational objection to this process going forward.” He said his “conviction that this is fundamentally misplaced” stems from an “awareness that a Massport facility in our midst will single-handedly undo much of the progress we make in terms of ‘greening’ transportation and buildings.”

Both of Lexington’s representatives in the Massachusetts House, Rep. Ken Gordon (D-21st Middlesex) and Rep. Michelle Ciccolo (D-15th Middlesex) agreed with Sen. Barrett’s comments and posed their own questions during the webinar. Gordon wondered about the actual number of current “ferry flights” and Ciccolo asked about quantifying the number of trees that will be lost and how many of the proposed hangars are already reserved or purchased by aircraft already based at Hanscom.


With shelter system at capacity, state turns to Concord hotel for emergency use

Boston Globe

Senator Michael Barrett, who represents the area, said that while there is understandable confusion about the situation, the interest in helping “nicely counterbalances the angst.”

“Townspeople in my district aren’t given notice when a hotel fills up for a trade show, or when a hotel fills up with tourists,” he said. “Too little notice would stoke resentment. Too much notice would go to another extreme.”


Concord awaits new families at Best Western

Concord Bridge

State Sen. Michael Barrett, D-Lexington, has been hearing from constituents in Concord, concerned and curious alike.

“The general feedback I’m getting is cautiously supportive of the effort,” Barrett said. “I’ve been able to reassure them that DHCD is not a faceless bureaucracy that is acting capriciously.”

Barrett pointed out the Best Western near the Route 2 rotary represents a compromise for housing families. There is some access to kitchen facilities, for example. Also, families won’t share bathrooms, as they would in a shelter. There is also access to good schools and some transportation.

“This is not a first choice, and it’s not viewed as a long-term solution, but the state is at the point of needing some fallback options for these families,” he said.


‘Fuel Farm’ Planned for New Hanscom Hangar Complex

Bedford Citizen

Several of the objections to the project were on environmental concerns, led by State Sen. Mike Barrett, whose district includes the four Hanscom towns. Barrett is one of the Legislature’s leading voices on climate issues. 

“I’m just channeling my constituents’ general concerns. There is genuine concern about the use of private jets and corporate jets,” he stated, which are “exceedingly emissions-heavy, on any metric you might choose. 

“It is striking that in the middle of our attempt as a state to deal with an existential crisis, Massport is intent on building its private jet business,” he continued. “This is premium traffic at a huge environmental cost to all of us collectively, and it’s obviously crucial to Massport’s plan for this particular airport.” 

The solar panels and other energy-saving features planned for the buildings “will not negate the extraordinary emissions impact of the jet trips themselves,” he said. The issue is “hyperlocal,” he asserted, because “a Massport facility in our midst will single-handedly undo much of the progress we made” in carbon elimination.