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Record 4.2 million register to vote in Mass.


Record 4.2 million register to vote in Mass.

More than 4.2 million residents are registered to vote in Massachusetts, the highest number in state history.

Secretary of State William F. Galvin said last Friday that nearly 37 percent of voters were registered as Democrats and about 12 percent as Republicans, with 51 percent identifying themselves as independents.

Galvin predicted a record turnout in Tuesday’s election, saying he expected more than 3 million people — or about 71 percent of the state’s eligible voters — to go to the polls.

Patrick expects challenge in 2010

Gov. Deval Patrick says he is eager to be challenged when he runs for re-election in 2010.

While the Democrat has been insisting he would seek a second term, speculation has swirled that he might be lured to Washington if Barack Obama is elected president next week. Patrick campaigned for Obama in Florida last weekend.

The governor is urging average citizens to challenge incumbents in the aftermath of a series of ethics scandals, most recently the arrest of state Sen. Dianne Wilkerson on bribery charges.

In announcing a series of proposed ethics reforms last Friday, Patrick said, “I fully expect to be challenged when I run for re-election in 2010.”

Asked if that meant he was committing to the state and not an Obama administration, Patrick said, “That’s what that means.”

Springfield to install downtown cameras

SPRINGFIELD — This city is installing surveillance cameras in its downtown business district in an effort to curtail crime.

The Springfield Business Improvement District says 25 cameras will be installed. They are being paid for with $50,000 from the organization as well as more than $262,000 in state grants.

They will be monitored six nights a week from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. by either police or the Springfield Guides, a volunteer public safety group.

Jeff Keck, the business group’s executive director, says the cameras will make the downtown safer.

Bay State lawmakers OK emergency budget measures

Massachusetts legislators have approved a package of emergency measures designed to ease a looming fiscal crisis.

Some of the measures were proposed by Gov. Deval Patrick last month, when he announced he would eliminate up to 1,000 jobs and order state agencies to make more than $1 billion in cuts and spending controls.

The package approved last Thursday includes transferring up to $200 million from the state’s rainy day fund and delaying payments to the state pension fund to save $100 million. The measure also cuts about $73.6 million in spending.

Lawmakers added a two-month state tax amnesty plan to encourage scofflaws to pay. The state revenue department estimates it could bring in up to $20 million.

They also extended until Dec. 1 the deadline for cities and towns who want to join the state’s group health insurance plan to save costs.

Mass. financial services companies to take a hit

Economic experts predict that the nation’s weakening economy will cost financial services companies in Massachusetts 7,200 jobs through the end of 2009.

Gus Faucher, director of macroeconomics at Moody’s, told The Boston Globe that the state’s financial and insurance sector shed 900 jobs in September. Faucher said Massachusetts is projected to lose a slightly higher proportion of financial jobs than the country as a whole.

University of Massachusetts-Boston economist Alan Clayton-Matthews said the job losses will have a ripple effect throughout the economy as businesses that rely heavily on the financial services industry, including limousine companies, will also suffer.

He said the good news is that many financial workers are highly educated and will find new work.

Report: Hungry in Massachusetts on the rise

An anti-hunger organization is reporting that more than half a million Massachusetts residents lack enough money to put nutritious food on the table.

Project Bread said more than 8 percent of the state’s households could not afford to buy enough healthy food from 2004 to 2006, the most recent years for which statistics are available.

That’s up from the 6 percent during the years between 2001 to 2003.

Advocates blame a souring economy and higher food prices in part for the increase in hungry families.

Project Bread Executive Director Ellen Parker said the state should take steps to ease the problem, including enrolling as many qualified individuals and families as possible in federally funded nutrition programs like food stamps.

Study: Number of skilled workers in Mass. to fall

A new study indicates the pool of younger skilled workers in Massachusetts will shrink over the next five years.

The Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce study projects that the state’s population of 18- to 54-year-olds will drop by about 100,000, or 4 percent, by 2013. The study also projects that the state’s growth in the number of workers with at least a bachelor’s degree will be the lowest in the nation.

Chamber president Paul Guzzi said the state’s worker talent is becoming more crucial as it competes for jobs in financial services, high tech and life sciences.

The chamber study made several recommendations, including improving public school teaching of science, technology, engineering and math. It also called for an increase in limits on visas for skilled foreign workers.

(Associated Press)