Three takeaways from Maura Healey’s first sit-down Boston Globe interview since election win
The Governor-elect has some notable ideas to address climate change, the housing crisis, and transportation problems.
As Governor-elect Maura Healey prepares to take office in just a few weeks, she is beginning to outline her priorities for members of the media. On Monday, she sat down with The Boston Globe for one of her first extensive interviews since a decisive electoral victory last month.
While Healey declined to offer specifics on some issues, she did elaborate on a few key topics that will be a focus of her administration early on.
Healey said that she hopes to make Massachusetts a worldwide leader in technology designed to fight climate change. This will require major investments, she told the Globe, likening her vision to former governor Deval Patrick’s work to support the state’s biotech industry. In 2008, Patrick signed legislation establishing a decade-long, $1 billion investment in life sciences through grants and tax incentives.
“Many years ago, we made investments in life sciences. I think we can make similar investments when it comes to climate technology here in this state and become a global epicenter,” Healey told the Globe.
Healey did not specify how many dollars that investment would require, but emphasized the need to make the state a unique player in the industry.
The idea would be to incentivize clean energy businesses to invest in Massachusetts in a similar way to Patrick’s bid to boost life science research through the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center. That organization told the Globe that it helped create 15,000 jobs in total.
On Monday, Healey also announced that Melissa Hoffer would serve as climate chief, a newly created cabinet-level position. Hoffer is currently with the Environmental Protection Agency and previously served as the chief of the Energy and Environment Bureau at the office of the Massachusetts attorney general.
The creation of this position reinforces Healey’s commitment to climate protection, as Massachusetts is the first state to establish a cabinet-level position of this nature, according to Healey’s team.
“It is imperative to us being able to meet our climate goals as established by the Legislature,” Healey told the Globe, “and it is a huge economic opportunity for us as well.”
Another goal, Healey said, is to enable developers to more easily build housing by streamlining the permitting process, according to the Globe. In her interview, Healey mused about potential incentives that the state could offer to increase housing production.
“We need to big-time increase the production of housing around the state,” Healey told the Globe.
Another strategy to add housing that Healey hopes to explore is the idea of shifting “unused, underutilized public land,” including state buildings, into additional housing.
Healey told the Globe that she is still deciding how best to pursue these goals, and does not yet know how many additional housing units are needed to alleviate the state’s housing crisis.
The state’s transit system, and the beleaguered MBTA in particular, have been at the forefront of many residents’ minds this year.
A series of dangerous and sometimes deadly accidents caused The Federal Transit Administration to take the rare step of conducting a wide-ranging safety inspection of the MBTA’s subway system. The agency’s findings were compiled into a scathing 90-page report released at the end of the summer. The report outlined numerous problems, including how “unwritten norms have emerged that emphasize a ‘get it done and go’ mentality over following safety rules.”
On top of that, MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak announced that he would step down from the position Jan. 3, right before Healey is set to take office.
Speaking with the Globe, Healey said that “job one” is to ensure the statewide transportation system is safe, reliable, and affordable. Healey plans to appoint a new transportation safety chief to oversee an audit of the entire system and make sure that it is meeting the recommendations set by federal officials.
Healey and her team are actively recruiting candidates that could fill Poftak’s position at the MBTA. She told the Globe that they are recruiting both “nationally and internationally.”
“You want somebody with transit experience, with operational experience, and who brings an energy and an urgency to address the safety concerns,” Healey told the Globe.
Stay up to date on all the latest news from Boston.com
- New emergency rule bans fishermen from parts of Massachusetts Bay for 3 months
- What exactly is wind chill, and how is it calculated? Boston braces for arctic blast.
- Man sprints across Mass. highway to stop woman’s runaway car
- Three concerning trends keep sprouting up during the Bruins’ losing streak
- Body of 96-year-old woman found in Chicago garage freezer