Category Archives: State House News Service

Justices Weigh Bid to Derail Income Surtax Ballot Proposal

By Andy Metzger

Supporters of a constitutional amendment to tax only the highest earners in Massachusetts, generating funds for education and transportation, encountered some skeptical Supreme Judicial Court justices on Tuesday who questioned the constitutionality of the proposal.

Initiative petitions must only contain subjects that are “related or which are mutually dependent,” according to the state Constitution, and the justices of the state’s highest court spent much of their Tuesday morning questioning whether the proposed ballot question meets that requirement.

“You’re connecting a progressive income tax to paying for education and transportation,” Justice Scott Kafker told Kate Cook, an attorney for proponents of the so-called Fair Share Amendment.  “Those seem to be three separate major policy decisions.”

Continue reading

Tech Council Urges Attention to Clean Energy Costs, Economic Impacts

By Katie Lannan

Cost to ratepayers should be the top priority for state officials weighing clean energy projects, the Massachusetts High Technology Council said Thursday.

In a letter to Department of Energy Resources Commissioner Judith Judson, the council cited the state’s comparatively high electricity costs and urged “the strongest of consideration” for potential economic impacts.

“As regulators deliberate on the best project for Massachusetts’ clean energy future, strong consideration must be given to the impacts on our ability to meet the needs of our growing economy,” council President Christopher Anderson said in a statement. “Make no mistake, cost matters. We support the Commonwealth’s efforts to be a national leader in renewable energy, but we must all be mindful of the impact energy costs have on job creation and our reputation as a leader in the innovation economy.” Continue reading

Income Surtax Opponents Call Proposal “Truly Radical”

By Andy Metzger

A proposed constitutional amendment that roughly 70 percent of Bay State lawmakers voted to put before voters is “truly radical,” a group of business representatives told the state’s highest court in a brief filed Monday.

Christopher Anderson, the president of the Massachusetts High Technology Council, and others have appealed to the Supreme Judicial Court to block from the 2018 ballot the proposal to impose a 4 percent surtax on incomes over $1 million to fund transportation and education programs. Continue reading

Biz Groups File Challenge with SJC in Bid to Derail Income Surtax

By Michael P. Norton

Proponents of an income surtax on high earners face a new challenge as opponents, led by large business groups, are going to court in a bid to derail a constitutional amendment calling for a 4 percent surtax on annual household income above $1 million per year.

A complaint filed with the Supreme Judicial Court Tuesday by officials from the Massachusetts High Technology Council, Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation and Associated Industries of Massachusetts alleges the proposal itself is unconstitutional and violates three requirements and restrictions on the content of ballot questions featured in Article 48 of the state Constitution.

“It is really important to understand that this lawsuit is not about whether creating a new graduated income tax is good public policy or bad public policy, it is about the way that it is being done, which we find to be so clearly flawed and unconstitutional that it is alarming,” Chris Anderson, president of the high tech council and former chairman of the state Board of Education, said in a statement. Continue reading

Baker Gives Legislature Summer Assignment: MassHealth Reform

By Matt Murphy

“Massachusetts High Technology Council President Chris Anderson said his organization’s support for the assessment deal negotiated with Baker “has always been absolutely conditioned on the adoption of reforms to MassHealth that are sufficient to put the program on sustainable financial footing AND an ironclad commitment to sunset the assessment no later than the end of 2019.”

“Until such reforms are adopted, the Council cannot and will not support an employer assessment,” Anderson said in a statement.”

Gov. Charlie Baker gave the Legislature a new deadline on Monday, calling on them to approve by mid-September a $350 million package of new employer health care assessments and MassHealth reforms required to balance the annual state budget.

Baker signed a $39.4 billion budget for fiscal 2018 that lowered tax revenue assumptions for the year by $749 million and made $320 million in spending vetoes that will be examined and reviewed by House leaders and Rep. Jeff Sanchez, the new chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

The governor also returned sections of the budget that would have allowed the administration to levy new fees and fines on employers to help pay for rising Medicaid costs. Instead, Baker wants to see the assessments, which he first proposed, coupled with reforms to MassHealth eligibility. Continue reading

Baker Offers Budget Conferees $315 Million Health Care Plan

By Matt Murphy

Employers would be counted on to pay $200 million more a year over the next two years to help pay for rising expenses in the state’s $16.6 billion Medicaid program under a plan the Baker administration presented to the Legislature Tuesday to balance next year’s budget.

The plan, a sweeping package of insurance reforms and temporary assessments, calls for a two-tiered assessment on companies, with the bulk of the burden falling on employers with non-disabled workers who enroll in MassHealth.

The new strategy deviates from the $2,000 assessment on certain employers that Gov. Charlie Baker proposed in his budget in January, a plan that sought to raise $300 million. Business groups and lawmakers raised concerns over the governor’s plan, but the House and Senate deferred to the administration in their budgets, essentially signaling to Baker to work with the industry to come up with a compromise. Continue reading

Altering Focus to What Matters at Tech Companies

By Colin A. Young

“”We’re hearing directly from business leaders Massachusetts’ advantages — like our best-in-the-nation talent pool — can be offset by other more challenging factors including the high costs of doing business and the need to improve our transportation systems,” Christopher Anderson, president of the Mass. High Tech Council, said in a statement.”

Most Massachusetts technology executives view the state as a good place to do business with a business environment that is steady or improving, but the cost of doing business and transportation issues continue to pose risks for future growth, a new survey from the Massachusetts High Technology Council found.

The council’s inaugural Executive Competitiveness Insight Survey, conducted by KPMG in September, found 72 percent of executives surveyed rated Massachusetts as a good or excellent place to do business, and 90 percent said they feel the local business environment is “holding steady or improving.” Continue reading

After Tech Tax, Council Rounding Up Info for Hill’s Next Big Tax Debate

By Colin Young

The Massachusetts High Technology Council is gearing up to fight the proposed surtax on households with incomes above $1 million and hopes to persuade lawmakers not to advance the so-called “millionaire’s tax” to the 2018 ballot.

The council, a roughly 130-member trade organization that pushes initiatives favored by the high tech industry on Beacon Hill, is raising money and waiting to learn the makeup of the next Legislature, which is expected to put the proposed surtax to voters on the 2018 ballot with an affirmative vote at a Constitutional Convention next session.

“We’re doing our homework and research right now with the reality that another Constitutional Convention is required before this moves forward and in order to be best prepared and to determine what our strategy will be,” MHTC President Christopher Anderson told the News Service on Thursday. “Because we do think passing a new tax like this does not create a more efficient, affordable or accountable government. So we’re doing our homework.” Continue reading

“Big Three” Look Back on Failed Talks Over Non-Compete Bill

By Katie Lannan

STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, AUG. 2, 2016…..Reiterating his support for the bill as it passed the House, Speaker Robert DeLeo on Tuesday said it was unfortunate that legislation to limit the use of non-compete agreements in Massachusetts did not reach Gov. Charlie Baker’s desk.

A conference committee of six House and Senate lawmakers failed on Sunday to reach a deal on the non-compete bill, one of six major pieces of legislation Baker had identified as a priority for the end of legislative session.

“We felt very strongly, after spending hours discussing this with all parties, that all parties came together and supported the House legislation,” DeLeo said during an interview on Boston Herald Radio. “Things changed, you know, in terms of what had happened in the Senate, and unfortunately, at the end of the day, we weren’t able to get it done.” Continue reading

DeLeo: Charter Proposal Never Should Have Reached Ballot

By Katie Lannan

House Speaker Robert DeLeo said Tuesday he regrets not getting a charter school bill done and thinks the complex and controversial education policy issue shouldn’t have been left to be settled at the ballot box this November.

Question 2 on November’s ballot will ask Massachusetts voters whether to allow state education officials to approve up to 12 new charter schools or enrollment expansions per year. A heated campaign is underway, with charter supporters saying the schools provide critical education opportunities to students who would otherwise lack them while opponents say they drain resources away from traditional public schools that serve a much larger portion of the state’s students.

“I felt very strongly that this is something that should never have been to the ballot box. This is something we should have been able to debate,” DeLeo said during an interview on Boston Herald Radio. Continue reading