As we head into the summer recess for the Legislature, here’s a quick recap on where we are. Remember, we are just in the first session of the two-year Legislative Session and much of the work will get underway come January 2020.
Despite missing the July 1 deadline, the House and Senate did vote a $43.1 billion annual budget. That budget then went to the Governor and he signed it without any vetoes. Specific items to note:
✔ The SRC advocated for rebuilding of the stabilization fund. The proposed FY20 budget does include an infusion of $476 million into the fund.
✔ The SRC advocated for the sunset of the EMAC assessment. The proposed FY20 budget does not include any revenue associated with an extension, thereby, sunsetting the program.
✔ The SRC supports adequate funding for programs to address the specific needs of our Gateway Cities with an emphasis on funding programs which meet labor market demand. The proposed FY20 budget increases education funding by nearly $270 million over last year, including an earmark to increase access to vocational schools.
However, the proposed FY20 budget makes assumptions of more than $600 million in increased revenue. The Massachusetts Taxpayer Foundation has said they believe the budget is based on “overly optimistic” assumptions of increases in revenue and does not take into consideration about $158 million in expected costs. If these increased revenue assumptions do not come to fruition, the state could be faced with mid-year budget cuts, so more to come on this.
Outside of the budget…
✔ Along with our statewide partners, we testified against reinstituting the premium pay blue law. This blue law was successfully negotiated and repealed as part of our work on the “grand bargain.” Reinstituting this law flies in the face of the compromise we struck.
✔ We testified in support of a comprehensive energy policy rather than piecemeal legislation.
✔ We testified in support of legislation that would address the “cliff effect” and remove one of the barriers to putting people to work.
✔ We joined a statewide coalition on transportation and are working towards developing a collaborative statewide business agenda for transportation to increase ridership on public transportation, decrease road congestion, and improve bridge and road conditions across the Commonwealth.
✔ And we advocated for – and achieved – the much needed delay of the implementation of the Paid Family and Medical Leave program and we advocated for – and achieved – several clarifying amendments to the legislation. We continue to be part of the team advising the Administration on the program and its implementation.
As part of year 2 of our strategic plan, we will be working better to engage you in our advocacy efforts and to enhance our communications with you. If you are willing to support our efforts, be it sending a letter to your legislator, communicating with them about how issues could hurt your business, or some other way, please contact me. OR if you have ideas on how we can better engage and communicate with you, please let me know that as well. You can reach me by email or (413) 755-1309.
Nancy F. Creed, IOM