Biz Group Warns Lawmakers Surtax Will Tie Their Hands on Tax Policy

By Andy Metzger

Ahead of a potential vote on the proposal, the Massachusetts High Technology Council warned Wednesday that a proposed 4 percent surtax on incomes over $1 million would “severely limit legislative and citizen power to set and amend tax policy in response to economic conditions.”

The House and Senate meet together at 1 p.m. for a Constitutional Convention where a citizens’ initiative (H 3933) is on the agenda behind nine other proposed legislative amendments to the state’s constitution.

The citizens’ amendment, which would need the votes of 50 lawmakers this session and next before appearing on the 2018 ballot, would add a 4 percent surtax on incomes over $1 million on top of what is now a 5.1 percent flat income tax.

Critics say the move will lead to a graduated income tax structure in which higher earners are taxed at higher rates and lower earners at lower rates. Unlike prior, unsuccessful attempts to allow for tiers in the state income tax, this latest effort would not remove the requirement for a flat income tax rate. Continue reading

Massachusetts Senate OKs Bill That Would Ensure Equal Pay

By Steve LeBlanc

“Critics say lawmakers are well-meaning, but misguided.

Massachusetts High Technology Council spokesman Mark Gallagher had urged the Senate to reject the bill.

“The legislation is a classic example of a well-intended proposal that is highly likely to result in unintended consequences,” Gallagher said in a written statement.

He said the bill would make it difficult and risky for employers to reward any worker — female or male — through commissions and other merit-based or performance-based compensation systems. He cited what he said was the high burden of proof employers would have to meet to justify higher pay for some workers.

The law could end up discouraging an employer from paying more to a woman employee who is performing at a higher level than a male counterpart, he added.”

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Mass. Senate Approves Equity Act to Close Gender Pay Gap

By Colin A. Young and Katie Lannan

“The legislation divided the business community, winning the backing of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce but meeting opposition from Associated Industries of Massachusetts and the Massachusetts High Technology council.

Describing the bill as “misguided in its approach” despite noble intentions, Mark Gallagher, the council’s executive vice president for public policy and communications, said it would put companies at risk for frivolous lawsuits if they pay employees commissions or other performance-based compensation.”

Noting its history as the first state to pass a pay equity law more than 70 years ago, the Massachusetts Senate unanimously passed legislation Thursday that proponents say will strengthen that law in an attempt to close the gender pay gap.

“The Senate today is taking a huge step not only for women, but also for men who believe in fairness and equity at the workplace for all the citizens of the commonwealth,” said Sen. Daniel Wolf, the Senate chair of the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development. “This bill gives us all a tool to use and tools to use to … do a deep dive, examine our souls, our hearts, our minds, our wallets, our balance sheets, and our profit and loss statements to make sure that the values that we embody here in this chamber are expressed in the behavior through our economy.”  Continue reading

The lowdown on how GE’s move will impact Boston startups

By Sara Castellanos

General Electric Co.’s announcement last week that it would move its corporate headquarters to Boston has implications for the local startup scene. After all, it was Boston’s vibrant startup culture and innovative spirit that was among the dozens of reasons that GE decided Boston was a good fit.

“We want to be at the center of an ecosystem that shares our aspirations,” said GE’s Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt in a statement last week.

Here are five ways that the announcement of GE’s move to Boston will impact — and has already impacted — the startup scene.

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Boston Mayor Marty Walsh on GE’s expected move: City won Powerball

By Gintautas Dumcius

The Massachusetts High Tech Council said GE’s move “reinforces the limitless opportunities for economic growth that are available to use when business and political leaders work together.”

“Governor Baker and Mayor Walsh should be commended for their creativity and diligence in bringing GE’s headquarters here and we congratulate them on this significant milestone in Massachusetts’s economic history,” Chris Anderson, the council president, said in a statement.

The City of Boston won the Powerball Jackpot.

That’s Mayor Marty Walsh’s take on General Electric Co., the eighth largest corporation in the U.S., announcing plans to move its global headquarters from Fairfield, Conn., to Boston’s Seaport District. The move takes the conglomerate’s workers out of the suburbs and places them inside a dense city.

In the release announcing its move, expected to wrap up in 2018, the company cited the city’s “business ecosystem,” quality of life and “connections with the world.” The company is expected to bring in 200 senior executives and 600 other professionals within the company.

The company already has almost 5,000 employees in the Bay State, working on aviation, oil and gas and energy management matters. Continue reading

Region’s Appeal, Incentives Helped Lure General Electric to Boston

By Matt Murphy

Massachusetts High Technology Council President Chris Anderson said General Electric will be an “impact player” in the state’s policy, civic, educational and philanthropic life.

“GE’s selection of Boston reinforces the limitless opportunities for economic growth that are available to us when business and political leaders work together to reinforce our Commonwealth’s strengths and to address our competitive challenges,” Anderson said. “

General Electric, one of the nation’s largest companies, will move about 800 jobs to Massachusetts starting this summer when it begins to relocate its global headquarters from Connecticut to the South Boston waterfront, the company announced on Wednesday. Continue reading

General Electric Moving Headquarters to Boston

By Peter Howe, Max Reiss and Staff Reports

After months of warning it could leave Connecticut for a more business-friendly lower-tax home, General Electric Co. made it official Wednesday, announcing they’ll leave their Fairfield campus for a new world headquarters in Boston’s Seaport Innovation District.

The move means 800 new jobs for Boston, but is also a colossal symbolic victory for Boston’s and Massachusetts’ reputations internationally as business and innovation hubs. The number 8 company on the Fortune 500, with over 300,000 emlpoyees worldwide, is now calling Boston its global headquarters.

“This is a huge win for the city of Boston, a huge win for Massachusetts,’’ Governor Charlie Baker said Wednesday afternoon.

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Boston-area business leaders react to GE’s Boston headquarters move

By Sara Castellanos

“GE’s selection of Boston reinforces the limitless opportunities for economic growth that are available to us when business and political leaders work together to reinforce our commonwealth’s strengths and to address our competitive challenges. Gov. Baker and Mayor Walsh should be commended…we congratulate them on this significant milestone in Massachusetts’ economic history.” ~ Mass. High Tech Council President Chris Anderson

A new anchor company is coming to town.

Boston-area technology, venture capital, finance and education leaders say GE’s upcoming headquarters move to Boston is a huge win for the region. Ellen Rubin, co-founder of Boston-based tech firm ClearSky Data, said the move is emblematic of a larger trend: Giant, established companies taking charge of innovation.  Continue reading

Biz Group Says Fed Tax Bill Could Boost Mass Jobs

By Michael P. Norton

Mark Gallagher, spokesman for the Massachusetts High Technology Council, told the News Service Wednesday that the suspension of the medical device tax, which stems from the Affordable Care Act, “reflects a growing bipartisan appreciation for the negative impacts the tax will have on research and innovation, impacts that will have particularly severe consequences for some of Massachusetts’ most innovative companies and largest employers.”

“We urge members of the Mass. Congressional delegation in particular to support and advocate for the suspension and, ultimately, a complete repeal of the tax,” Gallagher said.

Small business and medical device industry officials say a pair of provisions in the just-struck Congressional deals on tax credits and spending bode well for job production in Massachusetts.

According to the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), the deal makes permanent a section of the IRS tax code authorizing businesses to expense up to $500,000 of new investment in heavy machinery, office equipment, computer technology and other big-ticket items. Continue reading

State, Military Leaders Huddled at State House [+ Video]

By Colin A. Young

Gov. Charlie Baker, a handful of lawmakers and others in state government met Friday with officials from the Pentagon to highlight the Bay State’s contributions to the Department of Defense.

About 30 defense officials, including the chief information officers from each entity within the department, visited Massachusetts last week to get a sense of the state’s “placement within the innovation and defense economies,” Rep. Harold Naughton said.

“We want these people to know what an integral part Massachusetts plays in that area and to bring more contracts here, more government information and technology development here and to continue to support the corporations that are already here,” he said after a meeting at the State House.

A U.S. Army Reserves major, Naughton recently returned from a deployment to the Middle East.

[Watch: Legislators Describe Meeting With DOD Officials]

Last Thursday, the group from the Pentagon toured MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory, Hanscom Air Force Base, the MITRE Corporation, and participated in a forum to discuss cyber security issues.

“We have the brain power,” said Rep. Jerald Parisella, a veteran of the Army Reserves. “We may not have the natural resources of oil and gas but we have the greatest brainpower in the world, and the folks at DoD can tap into that here in Massachusetts.”

Baker declined to comment on the meeting as he walked to another military-related event Friday, but others who attended said they hope the talks sewed the seed of future collaboration between the Department of Defense and Massachusetts corporations.

“The key here is for Massachusetts to show all the tremendous institutions we have here, both higher ed and medical,” said Sen. Michael Rush, a U.S. Navy Reserve officer. “To have this fluid conversation always going on to highlight the tremendous assets that Massachusetts has is really important to the longevity of the state’s economy.”

According to the Massachusetts High Technology Council’s Defense Technology Initiative, private-sector defense firms and military installations generated a combined $40 billion economic impact in Massachusetts and supported over 175,000 jobs in 2011. Also, defense contract awards to Commonwealth firms and institutions represented 72 percent of all federal contract awards to Massachusetts.