🤔 How would YOU spend $58 billion?

Plus: 🥘 Local James Beard noms

It’s Thursday, Boston.

🥣 It’s also soup season. The Globe is releasing the first issue of its six-week winter soup club newsletter today, which will send a recipe (plus some additional soup inspo) to your inbox on Thursdays. Sign up here!

👀 What’s on tap today:

  • Local James Beard nominees

  • Jayson Tatum in Paris

  • Boston’s priciest hotel

Up first…

BEACON HILL

Healey’s budget proposal reveal

Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff. Illustration: Gia Orsino.

How would you spend $58 billion to make Mass. a better place? Well, Gov. Maura Healey just dropped her FY25 budget proposal (which would start on July 1), and this is how she’d do it.

Here are some of her proposal’s highlights: 

🚇 $359 million to support the MBTA. Her budget gives the troubled agency a much-needed doubling of “direct operating support.” Plus, there's a chunk of change ($45 million) for a new low income fare relief program, which is partially thanks to a cash influx from the so-called millionaire’s tax. Bonus: Alongside the budget, Healey signed an executive order calling for the creation of a transit funding task force, which will work to create a long-term finance plan for the state’s transit systems. 

🎒 Hundreds of millions for education and child care. These two issues are high priorities for Healey, and that’s certainly reflected in the extra $590 million in funding to early education statewide. The cash will go toward everything from fully funding the Student Opportunity Act, expanding child care financial assistance in low income households, implementing an early literacy program, ensuring universal Pre-K access in gateway cities by 2026, and expanding financial aid in higher ed (also partially thanks to the millionaire’s tax cash). 

🏠 $325 million for the emergency shelter system. Which, according to projections on the pricey situation, won’t be nearly enough. Healey plans to make up for it by using nearly $900 million in the state’s surplus spending account, but even that quite possibly might not cover it all.

🌧️ 10% of excess capital gains plus additional funding for disaster relief. In Mass.’ era of increasing natural disasters, Healey is creating a fund intended to help out communities that face natural disasters, like the extreme flooding this summer.

🤑 And keep the big picture in mind… Money, or a lack thereof, has been on Beacon Hill’s brain lately. See: The state’s recent lackluster tax revenue numbers which caused Healey to slash $375 million from FY24’s budget. This year’s budget takes that uncertainty into account, with the lowest year-over-year spending growth in years, making about $1 billion in line cuts, and creating an additional $1.2 billion in new revenue streams (one of those streams being a proposal that would allow the state lottery to sell its products online).

👀 So what’s next? The House and Senate will propose their own versions of the budget in the coming months, hash it out amongst themselves, then hopefully get the final version on Healey’s desk before July (although, they’re notorious for missing their own deadlines). 

QUICK QUESTION

💰If you had a $58 billion budget, which item would you most prioritize?

Let us know below!

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TOGETHER WITH FLEXCAR

New year, new you, Flexcar 

🚗 Get in, loser. We’re going shopping (for a car you can actually afford in 2024). With Flexcar, find a ride that fits your vibe, select a monthly plan (you can cancel any time), and get approved in minutes. No multi-year contracts or down payments. Plans include insurance and roadside assistance — and you can save up to 10-20% on your monthly car expenses. Use code BSIDE200 for 200 free miles ($100 value) and roll into the new year with a fresh set of wheels.

CITY

Quick & dirty headlines

Image: Lane Turner/Globe Staff

😋 This year’s James Beard semifinalists are here. And a ton of local faves made the cut! To name a few: Dorchester’s Comfort Kitchen (unsurprisingly) earned themselves a “Best New Restaurant” nomination, and haley.henry wine bar and Rebel Rebel are both up for the “Outstanding Wine and Other Beverage Program” category. Plus: Quincy’s Rubato is racking up the accolades. Their chef, Laurence Louie, also earned a nod. Check out the whole list of semifinalists here.

🌧️ TL;DR, we’re not going to see the sun for a bit. In the next week or so, three weather systems are forecasted to roll through, bringing warmer weather that will sit pretty squarely in the 40’s, along with few bouts of rain over the weekend (which probably means melting snow), as well as a small chance for a few new flakes of snow early next week. Time to put those “I love Massachusetts” affirmations to work.

🚲 Cambridge’s future is looking more bike friendly. Big upgrades are coming to Cambridge Street between Inman Square and Second Street under the city’s new Safety Improvement Project. Most notably, the addition of separated bike lanes, a piece of infrastructure that will hopefully increase pedestrian and cyclist safety in the area (but that’s just one of many changes, like new signage and pavement markings). Right now, the project is in a community outreach phase, but construction is projected to begin next spring.

🏅 How do you say “dunking on them” in French? Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Derrick White, and Jrue Holiday were recently added to the pool of 41 NBA players who could get the opportunity to represent the U.S. at the 2024 Paris Olympics, where the eventual 12-person roster will aim to take home their fifth straight gold. The list will be trimmed down further in the spring, but early projections expect Tatum and Brown to have particularly good odds. Check out the full list of contenders here.

ONE LAST THING

Boston’s most expensive hotel

Image: Christopher Muther/Globe Staff. Illustration: Gia Orsino.

What would it take for you to shell out $675 for a one-night hotel stay? Luxurious amenities? A butler that makes you cocktails and texts you weather updates in the morning? Free macarons and citrus in your room to snack on? 

Well, if you stay at Raffles, Boston’s newest (and priciest) luxury hotel, you can have all of that. The Globe’s Christopher Muther tried out and reviewed the hotel, and he literally didn’t have one bad thing to say (which, for the price tag — we’d hope not!).

And even though we realize that spending most of your monthly budget on one night at a hotel isn’t super realistic, man is it fun to live vicariously through a good review.

— Written by Gia Orsino and Emily Schario

🏨 Thanks for reading! A night’s stay at Raffles is about a month or so of my entire “wants” budget. A girl can dream.

💜 Special shoutout to today's sponsor, Flexcar, for supporting local journalism and making transportation more affordable and accessible in Boston. 

❄️ The results are in: Most B-Siders are pretty happy with Boston’s outdoor winter offerings, but wish there were more variety in the programming. One very relatable reader said: “It's good but the Green Line is so down and I live in Brighton … what's a girl to do?”

💃 Keep up with us @BostonBSide on IG, TikTok, and Twitter. Send comments and suggestions to [email protected] or [email protected].