STATE HOUSE, BOSTON —.Schools broke for vacation, but midterm grades started to come out this week and had to leave Gov. Charlie Baker wondering what a guy needs to do to get an A.
It seems everyone in Massachusetts is a tough grader, the governor included.
It probably did not shock the governor or his team when, for the second straight year, a coalition of environmental advocacy groups gave Gov. Baker a "mediocre" grade of C for 2016.
Despite solid marks for energy efficiency and electric vehicle promotion, environmental activists have been unimpressed with the progress Baker has made toward a campaign promise to boost funding in the state budget for environmental issues.
The governor's fiscal 2018 budget proposal actually backslides from the target of 1 percent of total spending, and the governor's support for natural gas pipelines has not endeared him to those in the green community.
So he got one C. But surely, the governor's performance would be looked at more kindly by the woman with whom he shares a home, right? Apprently not.
First Lady Lauren Baker, it would seem, was equally unimpressed by her husband's recent 75 percent approval rating in a Morning Consult poll, which made him once again the most popuar governor in America now more than two full years into his first term.
"Congratulations. You got a C," the first lady reportly told her husband. Ouch.
All of that tough love must have rubbed off on the governor who, when asked this week to grade his own administration's performance with the MBTA, handed down a grade of .... C+.
"I would argue that that's because a big part of the investment that we are going to be making over the next several years in the core system is just getting started," he said. Baker gave his team an A- for organizational improvements at the T.
Judgment will also be coming soon for the Department of Correction following the shocking suicide of former New England Patriots tight end and convicted murdered Aaron Hernandez.
Just days after being acquitted of a separate double homicide, Hernandez was found dead in his Souza Baranowski Correctional Center cell in Acton where he hanged himself using a bedsheet. Leaving aside the question of why Hernandez took his own life, Gov. Baker said he would wait to form judgements on how it was allowed to happen until after the full investigation.
"Anytime anybody kills themself in a prison something clearly went wrong," Baker said, nevertheless extending his "full faith and confidence" Correction Commissioner Thomas Turco.
The Hernandez suicide rocked an otherwise sleepy news week as Beacon Hill slipped into its pre-budget debate slumber, and marathon runners gave Bostonians something to cheer for as summer temperatures briefly warmed the Patriots Day holiday.
Auditor Suzanne Bump was not asked to grade to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, but if she had been she gave the impression that a passing grade would have been generous.
The Democrat, during an appearance on Boston Herald Radio, fielded a question about the movement toward putting the new retail marijuana industry under an independent authority akin to the structure used by lawmakers to license and regulate casinos.
Bump won't have a vote when it comes times to decide on marijuana oversight, but she made clear she's no fan of the Gaming Commission model. "The Gaming Commission is responsible to no one. To no one. There's no oversight of what they do. It's not a good model," she said.
The Gaming Commission said it is, in fact, accountable to not just the public, the Legislature and the media, but the executives, including the governor, who appoint the five members of the board. But it will be interesting to see if Bump is on an island, or if her concerns with taking oversight away from Treasurer Deborah Goldberg, who is elected, and giving it to independent appointees are shared by others.
Speaking of on an island, former Sen Scott Brown's early endorsement in New Hampshire of Donald Trump finally paid dividends this week.
Brown, who once called Wrentham home before moving north of the border, will be nominated to be the next ambassador to New Zealand, the White House said, and his one-time political nemesis U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren could not have been more supportive.
The statement from Team Trump seemed to forget the role Brown played for its campaign in the Granite State, referring to him instead as being from Massachusetts and the former occupant of Ted Kennedy's seat (not The People's Seat, as Brown insisted it be called).Which brings us to the Donnelly seat and the Timility seat.
The race to succeed the late Sen. Kenneth Donnelly would appear to be coming down to two Arlington Democrats - and maybe one Republican.
Rep. Sean Garballey, a Democrat, formally announced his campaign this week, and Donnelly's chief of staff Cindy Friedman plans to make her campaign official on Monday. GOP Rep. Marc Lombardo, meanwhile, continues to mull a run and what it would take to not just turn a blue seat red, but also run from Billerica for a seat that's been in Arlington's hands since at least 1983.
On the other side of Boston (and a little to the west), some potential candidates are starting to emerge for Sen. James Timilty's seat as they wait for Timility to officially resign to become the new Norfolk County treasurer.
Foxborough Democrat Paul Feeney, the legislative director for IBEW Local 2222 and a former chief of staff to Timilty, announced plans to run for the Bristol and Norfolk seat, and he could be joined by former investigative television reporter Joe Shortsleeve, who may be ready to take a turn on the other side of the camera.
Another week went by with cities and towns waiting for the Legislature to reach a deal on Chapter 90 road repair funding, which came late Friday.
House and Senate negotiators agreed to put aside the idea of a multi-year funding bill to build some certainty into the immediate construction planning process, and will try to get a bill to Baker quickly that would make $200 million available for road projects.
The Senate does not have a formal session scheduled for next week, but could add one to take up the Chapter 90 bill as the House gathers at the beginning of the week to open debate on the fiscal 2018 budget.
As House lawmakers prepared to debate how they will spend in excess of $40 billion, some peace of mind came in the form of a mid-month revenue report from tax collectors that showed revenues up 31 percent, or $218 million, from last year.
Mid-month revenues are seldom to be trusted because the reports are incomplete snapshots of an entire month, and they can and have given false hope to budget writers in the past.
But even modest gains in April that could eat into the $220 million shortfall in fiscal 2017 would be welcome news.