Renewing the Call for Municipal Health Plan Design

The Council applauds the Mass. House of Representatives led by Speaker Robert DeLeo and House Ways and Means Chairman Brian Dempsey for giving cities and towns significantly more plan design authority as part of the FY12 state budget in a key vote yesterday over the continued objections of organized labor. In coalition with like-minded business and civic leadership organizations, the Council continues its long-standing call for cities and towns to be granted the same ability to design health insurance plans for their employees outside of collective bargaining as enjoyed by the Commonwealth. See State House News coverage of the coalition’s role in this debate.

Recent studies by the Boston Foundation and Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation show that municipal employees currently receive disproportionately generous benefits compared with the private sector and state employees and that municipal budgets are unduly strapped due to runaway health care costs at the expense of critical investments in education. The Council will continue to advocate on this issue throughout the state budget process as the quality of life of our cities and towns is a key factor in the location decisions of technology companies and their workforce. See the Council’s recent statement.

Extending Innovation Access “Over There” (and Here)

The Council applauds the Mass. House of Representatives led by Speaker Robert DeLeo and House Ways and Means Chairman Brian Dempsey for giving cities and towns significantly more plan design authority as part of the FY12 state budget in a key vote yesterday over the continued objections of organized labor. In coalition with like-minded business and civic leadership organizations, the Council continues its long-standing call for cities and towns to be granted the same ability to design health insurance plans for their employees outside of collective bargaining as enjoyed by the Commonwealth. See of the coalition’s role in this debate. Recent studies by the Boston Foundation and Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation show that municipal employees currently receive disproportionately generous benefits compared with the private sector and state employees and that municipal budgets are unduly strapped due to runaway health care costs at the expense of critical investments in education. The Council will continue to advocate on this issue throughout the state budget process as the quality of life of our cities and towns is a key factor in the location decisions of technology companies and their workforce. See the Council’s recent.

Council President Christopher Anderson met earlier this month with technology and innovation leaders in the United Kingdom and France to brief them on the Council’s new Innovation Access Network (IAN). IAN was created by the Massachusetts High Technology Council to support private sector tech firms and federal agencies across the country and the world. Since 2003, the Mass. High Tech Council has been working closely with technology association partners throughout New England in building a regional collaboration to boost access to innovative technologies.

The annual subscription cost for “seekers” is $15,000 (USD) and for “innovators” is $500 (USD). However, the innovator fee is waived for MHTC members, and the seeker fee is reduced by 50% for MHTC members. Contact Daniella DeChristopher to activate your subscription.

Large technology companies from across the technology landscape are now being invited to subscribe to and use IAN to accelerate their ability to identify innovative technologies they may be seeking, and firms with innovative technologies are likewise invited to join the network to increase their ability to be noticed by government defense, security, energy and health care agencies, and by large tech firms seeking their technologies. Initial partner organizations include U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development & Engineering Center, Textron, BAE Systems, Draper Labs, and the Massachusetts Port Authority. We are also working with additional large private sector seekers around New England and in the U.K., France, Canada, Japan, and other U.S. federal agencies including Hanscom AFB, the U.S. Navy, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to activate their presence on IAN by July 2011.

Getting the Good Word Out About Boston Schools

The Council’s Education and Talent Development Team is a proud co-sponsor of a showcase of Boston Schools Racing to the Top to be held on Wednesday, May 4th from 7:15 to 10:00 a.m. at the UMass Boston campus center. This showcase will highlight changes sweeping across the Boston Public Schools and provide a stage for 12 schools across district and charter models to brief business leaders looking to get more involved in supporting change and student achievement. By our count, there are approximately 40 essentially “new” schools emerging in our capital city, and this showcase will enable attendees to see the future of Boston public education and to engage in schools directly. Six district and six charter schools will provide “elevator pitches,” and a chance to learn more about them in longer breakout sessions. This showcase will feature remarks from: Paul Reville, Secretary of the MA Executive Office of Education; Carol Johnson, Boston Superintendent of Schools; and Jim Peyser, former Chair of the MA Board of Education and Managing Partner of the New Schools Venture Fund. This outreach builds on the Council’s historic advocacy for innovative school models and support of Boston turnaround school principals. To reserve a seat, please e-mail rsvp@tbf.org with the subject “Boston Racing to the Top” and indicate you are a Mass. High Tech Council member.

Strengthening STEM Through the Mass Math and Science Initiative (MMSI)

Among its top legislative priorities, the Council is supporting the Massachusetts Math and Science Initiative (MMSI) which seeks $1 million in state funding to help provide advanced placement math, science and English teacher training in at least 40 school districts, provided that MMSI is able to match at least that amount in private funding. Council members demand a talented workforce of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) professionals, and as the Commonwealth seeks to identify STEM programs that work, MMSI dramatically stands out as a proven investment. MMSI has provided training to more than 1,200 high school and middle school teachers in Massachusetts over the past three years and has more than doubled enrollments in Advanced Placement courses in 45 districts, from fewer than 4,000 to nearly 9,000 – about 6,500 students – today. Along with increased enrollment, MMSI schools have seen a 96% increase in qualifying scores on math, science and English AP exams. In the three years since its founding, MMSI has put $9 million in private funding to work for Massachusetts teachers and students. But the private sector is looking to the public sector – even during this period of budget contraction – for some support as other states are providing. For more information, visit MMSI’s site.

Promoting the Value of Chief Sustainability Officers

Earlier this month the Council’s Clean Energy and Sustainability Team co-hosted a special symposium on Chief Sustainability Officers (CSOs) with North Shore Technology Council’s Sustainability Forum that attracted nearly 100 participants. The symposium was conceptualized and moderated by Mitch Tyson, Principal, Tyson Associates and Chair, MHTC Clean Energy and Sustainability Team and featured presentations on the roles of CSOs and how they help companies achieve transformational ethics and practices in sustainability at member companies. Presenters included: Asheen Phansey, Product Manager, Sustainability, Dassault Systemes/SolidWorks; Paul Lukitsch, Worldwide Energy Manager, Millipore; Kristine Kalaijian, Director of Environmental Compliance and Sustainability, Philips Electronics; and Sarah Hammond Creighton, Sustainability Director, Endicott College. In light of participant feedback, the Council intends to host a wider fall symposium on CSOs in collaboration with leading academic and government stakeholders. See Mass High Tech news coverage of the symposium. For more information on either event, contact Council Vice President Jim Rooney at jim@mhtc.org.

Helping America Win

The Council has joined the Win America Campaign, along with several leading technology associations across the country, including TechNet with which the Council occasionally collaborates. Win America’s goal is to pass legislation to secure an immediate reduction of taxes on the return of income earned by American companies overseas. The current rate incents American companies to invest foreign earnings outside of the U.S. The group strongly supports corporate tax reform for overseas earnings as essential to keeping the U.S. competitive, but as a first step toward broader reform, Win America is calling on Congress to act now and allow American businesses the freedom to bring this money home so it can be invested here. Members of Win America represented in Massachusetts include Qualcomm, Adobe, Microsoft, Pfizer, EMC, Oracle, Broadcom, and Google. For more information, visit Win America’s site.

Council in the News

The Council continues its advocacy on a wide range of issues beyond its public policy priorities, including on federal patent reform about which Jim Rooney was quoted in a recent Boston Business Journal article. Chris Anderson was also quoted in a recent Boston Herald article on web-based travel companies.

Council Welcomes New and Returning Members

The Council is pleased to welcome several new and returning companies and institutions as Council members including Fidelity Investments, USI, Babson College, Wentworth Institute of Technology, Courion, and ideaPoint.