Helping Veterans Connect to Companies

Coalition works to translate military skills to civilian jobs

By Jordan Graham
Boston Herald

It took 20-year Army veteran Major Bob Kinder nine months to find his job as managing director of G2 Capital Advisors in Boston. Photo credit: Jim Michaud

It took 20-year Army veteran Major Bob Kinder nine months to find his job as managing director of G2 Capital Advisors in Boston. Photo credit: Jim Michaud

A coalition of Bay State companies, advocates and veterans is aiming to help vets translate skills they already have to the offices of tech companies.

“The goal is to help employers connect more effectively with a growing number of veterans who are reentering the workforce,” said Chris Anderson, president of the Massachusetts High Technology Council and one of the leaders of New England Tech Vets. “No matter what a veteran did in the military, there is an equitable civilian skill.”

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School finance issues influence debate on charter cap lift

By Matt Murphy in the Dorchester Reporter
State House News Service

With the press on from charter school advocates to lift or eliminate the cap on charter enrollment in poorly performing school districts, the battle brewing over the issue in the Legislature appears to have as much, if not more, to do with the distribution of state education aid than the merits of charter schools.

The Race to the Top Coalition staged a rally at the State House on Wednesday, urging a House-Senate committee to recommend a bill filed by Rep. Russell Holmes, of Boston, and Sen. Barry Finegold, of Andover, to eliminate the cap in underperforming school districts and give schools on the cusp of being labeled underperforming more autonomy over hiring, curriculum and other functions.

Though a bill could surface anytime between now and the end of session in July, the Education Committee faces a March 19 deadline to report on bills pending before the committee. Holmes and Rep. Paul Schmid (D-Westport) were the only two lawmakers to attend a portion of the rally.

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Employers Give Senate’s Unemployment Insurance Bill Mixed Review

NOTE: The Massachusetts High Technology Council emailed out a statement criticizing the Senate’s bill mid-debate, while the AFL-CIO said ahead of the debate that it was in favor of the legislation.

By Andy Metzger

Aiming to stabilize business costs for the next few years and provide rate relief to employers with good employee retention records, the Senate passed an unemployment insurance reform bill Thursday that got mixed reviews from business leaders.

Sen. Dan Wolf, a Harwich Democrat and part-owner of Cape Air, said the bill is revenue-neutral, will provide four years of rate stability and better distinguishes between “who uses the system and who doesn’t” when determining the level of taxes paid by businesses to pay for jobless benefits.

“This bill will provide financial predictability, reward positive employment histories with lower costs and foster a healthy economy that supports the business community,” Senate President Therese Murray said in a statement. “These reforms strike a careful balance between providing businesses with a helping hand without taking that same hand away from the unemployed.”

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Gov. Deval Patrick uses last State of the State speech to push for new minimum wage

NOTE: House Speaker Robert DeLeo says a bill will likely get done this year, but he wants to make sure it’s coupled with changes to the state’s unemployment insurance system to reduce its burden on businesses.

By Jon Chesto
Boston Business Journal

Gov. Deval Patrick’s final State of the Commonwealth speech focused on his legacy — the ways in which he’d like the state to be a better place than it was when he first took office seven years ago. Chief among those changes, not surprisingly, is an increase in the state’s minimum wage.

Patrick certainly mentioned a number of other goals for his final year — more rail service, expanded all-day kindergarten, unemployment insurance reform. And he ticked off a laundry list of accomplishments.

But it was his brief mention of the minimum wage increase that seemed to draw the loudest and longest applause last night.  Continue reading

Senate Approves $177 Million Military Bond Bill

By Michael Norton
State House News Service

The Senate on Thursday overwhelmingly approved a bill authorizing $177 million in state spending to support six state military bases and, according to supporters, put Massachusetts in a stronger position should the federal government close or realign military bases.

“All the states are looking at this in a very competitive way,” said Sen. Ken Donnelly (D-Arlington) said before the Senate voted 37-2 for the so-called military bond bill.

Sen. James Eldridge (D-Acton) and Sen. Patricia Jehlen (D-Somerville) opposed the bill, noting that military funding is a federal responsibility and cautioning that capital spending on other state priorities would likely be at risk given the state’s borrowing limits.

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DeLeo Resists Call to Divorce Minimum Wage From Insurance System Changes

NOTE: In a Nov. 25 memo to lawmakers, Mass. High Tech Council President Chris Anderson said UI system reforms could address the perception among its members that is “less competitive” on cost issues than other states. The council found 67 percent of tech community survey respondents supported an increase in the minimum wage up to $10 an hour if UI system reforms were included as an “inseparable component” of the minimum wage proposal.

By Colleen Quinn and Michael Norton
State House News Service

Despite calls from prominent Democrats to separate the issues, House Speaker Robert DeLeo has not swayed from his plan to tie an increase in the minimum wage with unemployment insurance system reforms sought by businesses.

“I am still of that mind,” DeLeo told the News Service Tuesday after an event at the State House. “I have not changed my mind.”

Asked about a “sub-minimum wage” for teenagers and workers in training that would be lower than the regular minimum wage, DeLeo said he is considering that idea.

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Air Force Seeks Hanscom Tech Bids

By Scott Van Voorhis

Jim Burnett chatted away with Hanscom Air Force Base officials long after the event at Burlington’s Hilton Garden Inn had ended, touting the virtues of a compact new cooling system designed to keep military electronics functioning smoothly in the harshest environments on earth.

Burnett, government affairs chief for Marlborough-based Aspen Systems Inc., was one of an estimated 150 small-business owners and employees who turned out Wednesday morning to hear an unusual pitch by Air Force officials.

Hanscom is seeking to boost the number of technology companies that bid each year on the $2.8 billion in research and development contracts awarded each year through the Bedford military installation.

And in an effort to drum up interest, top Air Force officials laid out a range of potential contract opportunities, making their pitch in an event typically reserved for big companies.

“It is really a hotbed of technology talent here,” said Chuck Paone, public affairs director at Hanscom. “Small businesses tend to bring a lot of innovation to the table.”

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Nonstop Flight Connects Boston, China

By Donna Goodison

The first nonstop air service between Boston and Beijing will be announced next week, the Herald has learned — and it promises to dramatically boost business between a leading world technology and research zone here in the Hub and China’s massive emerging market.

Massport, after years of pushing for the globe-shrinking flights, is due to announce next week that China’s Hainan Airlines will launch nonstop service in June, initially four times per week, according to sources briefed on the plans. The airline filed an application with the U.S. Department of Transportation on Nov. 12 that’s expected to be approved early next week, the sources told the Herald.

“China is a huge market opportunity,” said Christopher Anderson, president of the Massachusetts High Technology Council. “This is obviously very welcome. It not only helps our economy gain easier access to another market — direct service to anywhere opens up access for that location to our innovation assets.”

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Biz: Tie Wage Hike to Jobless Pay, Groups Say Insurance Reform Essential

By Donna Goodison
Boston Herald

Business groups indicated they are willing to back a more modest minimum wage hike than the state Senate wants, but insist on tying any increase to unemployment insurance reform.

“Neither one of these are going to go through on their own,” Massachusetts High Technology Council President Christopher Anderson said yesterday after meeting with House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D-Winthrop), who also wants one bill that links the two.

Anderson said he expects a House bill reflecting that “balanced” strategy after last week’s Senate vote to hike the minimum wage to $11 an hour, from $8, by July 2016 and link future increases to inflation.

State Senate President Therese Murray (D-Plymouth) wants unemployment insurance reform handled in a separate bill next year.

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Biz Group may be open to Mass. Minimum Wage Hike

NOTE: The council demonstrated its clout earlier this year as one of the business groups that successfully lobbied the Legislature to repeal the ‘‘tech tax,’’ a short-lived sales tax on computer and software services.

‘‘I think the lesson on the tech tax was that if we pursue policies that provide negative consequences to our ability to grow and retain jobs in Massachusetts, that’s a problem for our overall competitiveness,’’ Anderson said.

By BOB SALSBERG
Associated Press

BOSTON (AP) — Business leaders appear open to supporting a modest hike in the state’s $8 per hour minimum wage, but only if coupled with business-friendly reforms in the unemployment insurance system.

The Massachusetts Senate approved a stand-alone bill last week that would raise the minimum wage to $11 per hour by 2016 and index future increases to inflation. The House has not yet acted on the measure.

Many business leaders warn that a hike in the minimum wage could force employers to trim jobs and price some low-skilled workers out of the labor force.

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