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    Baker’s budget has a stopgap, sports talk rivals could become teammates

    Governor Charlie Baker in his office at the State House.
    David L Ryan/Globe Staff
    Governor Charlie Baker in his office at the State House.

    Ah, yes, that time honored tradition where a rodent pokes his head up and we learn that winter is settling in for another six weeks. No groundhog stories here, but we’ve got a shamrock shake, Chesto, and a roundup of other top stories for Thursday, Feb. 2.

    Chesto means business

    Pay it now or pay it later: Governor Charlie Baker tried to avoid one-time revenue sources for the next state budget. But the proposal that Baker just filed with the Legislature still includes a quirky stopgap measure, one that involves the sales tax.

    There’s essentially a one-month delay from the time purchases are made and when taxes go to the state coffers. Baker would upend that system, starting in June of 2018, by requiring “real time” collections for purchases made with credit or debit cards.


    That month happens to be the last one in the fiscal year. The state’s general fund would get $95 million a month early — and in this budget proposal’s fiscal year, instead of the next one — as a result.

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    In theory, there are some good reasons to vacuum up sales taxes as soon as possible. Baker’s people say it will increase the taxes collected and the reliability of projections.

    But there are also reasons this concept has been proposed elsewhere, yet no other state has adopted it. Jon Hurst, the retail industry’s top advocate in Massachusetts, sees all sorts of problems ahead: the red tape involving two tax systems (one for cards and one for cash and checks), for example, and the inevitable bump in payment processing costs. (Retailers with fewer than 50 employees would be exempt under Baker’s plan.)

    To Hurst, this just seems like a gimmick — and a headache. With a disappointing holiday season and a looming healthcare assessment, local merchants really don’t need another one of those.

    Jon Chesto is a Globe reporter. Reach him at and follow him on Twitter @jonchesto.

    Market Wrap

    Executive Summary

    Tuned in: It would be like suddenly putting the Red Sox together with the Yankees or the Bruins under the same ownership as the Canadiens.


    From the Globe’s Katheleen Conti: Entercom Communications and CBS Radio have agreed to merge, which in Boston puts bitter sports talk rivals WEEI and 98.5 The Sports Hub essentially on the same team. The two stations compete for listeners in Boston’s intense sports market with CBS’s The Sports Hub dominating Entercom’s WEEI in the ratings battle lately.

    It’s unclear what the merger would mean for the stations, but on-air personalities, who have at times sniped at each other, openly joked about the possibilities this morning. The deal requires approval from Entercom shareholders, and if it moves forward Entercom and CBS Radio would become the second-largest US radio company behind iHeartMedia Inc.

    Shaking things up: Lunch at the Boston College Chief Executives Club usually ends with crème brulee, the Globe’s Shirley Leung writes in a dispatch from the see and be seen circuit. But on Thursday, when McDonald’s Corp. CEO Stephen Easterbrook was the keynote speaker, guests got treated to a second dessert: the chain’s shamrock shake.

    The mint-flavored shamrock shake is a perennial offering in the run up to St. Patrick’s Day and spring, but this year comes with an option with chocolate on the bottom. Both were served.

    Easterbrook also learned that the chain’s fries has two huge fans who were in the audience: Boston Scientific Corp. CEO Michael Mahoney and Margaret Marshall, the former chief justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. Marshall, during the question-and-answer portion, suggested McDonald’s should home deliver its fries. (She wasn’t joking.)


    Boost for cancer drug: Tarveda Therapeutics has raised $30 million in an effort to push its experimental cancer drugs through clinical trials.

    From Xconomy Boston: The Watertown-based biotech received the bulk of its funding from new investor Versant Ventures, which comes a year after the company raised $38 million.

    Tarveda is developing a drug called Pentarins, which is meant to deliver cancer killing toxins to tumors and spare healthy tissue in the process. The money is expected to help Tarveda finish phase one of its studies and move ahead with clinical trials.

    For reel: Remember those old television commercials with the “trust the Gorton’s fisherman” jingle? Well, that Gloucester company is going through a rebranding, the Boston Business Journal reports.

    In the next couple of weeks, Gorton’s will release a new ad campaign developed by Connelly Partners and directed by “Saturday Night Live” director Mike Bernstein.

    The ads, which will appear on social media, will cast Gorton’s fisherman as a “fish out of water” in a series of videos, including one that has him dumping a bucket of water — and fish — over a coach’s head at the end of a game.

    Trending pick

    Fashion statement: Stefan Larsson, CEO of Ralph Lauren, is stepping down in a dispute with Lauren over the direction of the fashion company. Larsson is expected to remain with the company until May 1.

    Line Items

    Super Bowl ad sparks debate:

    Audi takes on gender pay gap -- Wall Street Journal

    Repeal work begins in Washington:

    Congress reviews bills aimed at Affordable Care Act -- Bloomberg

    Super Bowl gambling? You bet:

    Game always attracts a lot of action -- Yahoo Finance

    Schwarzenegger wants to trade:

    Tells Trump to switch jobs with him -- New York Times


    If it sounds too good: We’ve all heard that warning before, but when it’s a friend of a friend, an old Boston College buddy, or someone who does charity auctions, well, it’s more difficult to believe it’s too good to be true.

    From Sacha Pfeiffer in today’s Globe comes the story of Daniel Flynn, a real estate developer and auctioneer from Weymouth turned swindler. Flynn admitted in federal court that he cheated as many as 80 investors out of more than $20 million.

    Flynn took money from close friends, people who entrusted him with $10,000 to $500,000 on promises of inside information on hot real estate deals. It’s money they’re never likely to recoup, even though prosecutors are seeking $21 million in restitution when he is sentenced May 9.

    The Talking Points newsletter is compiled by George Brennan. Follow George on Twitter at @gpb227. If you liked what you’ve read, please tell your friends tosign up. “You want a prediction about the weather? You’re asking the wrong Phil. I’m going to give you a prediction about this winter? It’s going to be cold, it’s going to be dark and it’s going to last you for the rest of your lives!” -- Phil Connors, Groundhog Day (1993)