For Immediate Release February 12, 2009
Contact: Cort Boulanger (339) 222-2442
Wyndham Lewis (617) 605-3947

Massachusetts Technology CEO Confidence Plummets to 18-Year Low

High Tech Council Members’ Share Bleak Outlook for 2009

The Massachusetts High Technology Council’s 2009 CEO Business Climate Survey revealed the highest degree of pessimism in the state’s high tech business climate in 18 years. The survey, conducted each year since 1987, indicates 38 percent of technology CEOs believe the climate is “worsening” compared with only 4 percent a year ago. The indicator is now at its lowest point since 1991, when it reached 66 percent.

The Legislature ended 2008 with mixed results. Despite passage of the Life Sciences Initiative, Green Communities Act and a one-time Unemployment Rate freeze, soaring state budget deficits coupled with a $500 million tax increase imposed on employers in 2008 and the prospects for even higher tax and regulatory burdens in 2009, underscored growing concerns about the competitiveness of the state’s technology economy. In particular, opposition to a $111 million Unemployment Insurance and other corporate tax hikes (69% strongly opposed) top the list of Council’s priorities for 2009 (www.mhtc.org for survey results). The state’s technology CEOs also called for transforming the public education delivery system, including increasing pilot/charter schools and stimulating the pipeline of next-generation technology talent.

“The survey results are clearly reflective of the precarious economic and fiscal climate,” said Council Chairman and Vertex Pharmaceuticals CEO Joshua Boger. “Difficult times like these reconfirm the need for a competitive and comprehensive economic strategy to accelerate growth of the states diverse innovation economy. Success in this arena will help build and sustain the world class schools that will supply the next generation of innovative talent and invigorate long-term economic and educational excellence.”
The following top public policy priorities were established by the High Tech Council board of directors based on results of the 2009 CEO Survey:

  • Work to prevent an automatic increase in 2009 Unemployment Insurance rates
  • Oppose legislative efforts to delay or repeal the corporate tax rate cut scheduled for 2010 implementation
  • Work with the Patrick Administration and the Legislature to advance elements of a comprehensive tech-based economic policy strategy that boosts the state’s overall competitiveness
  • Work with the Patrick Administration, the Legislature, key providers, and others to mitigate employer healthcare costs
  • Strengthen Talent Pipeline by improving STEM infrastructure and effectiveness
  • Expand innovative school choices for parents by working to increase the number of Readiness/Pilot schools and Charter schools

These priorities will comprise the bulk of the recorded legislative votes on MassTrack, the Council’s online government assessment tool. In the 2007-2008 session, the Legislature’s support for the technology agenda was as a whole worse than in the previous session. Legislators earned an average score of 42 last session compared to an average score of 75 for the 2005-2006 session.

“Looking ahead, the need for action this year on a number of economic and education policies remaining in political “in” box is critical to accelerating our recovery when the economy turns positive,” said Council President Christopher R. Anderson. “There is a deep concern that mounting tax and regulatory burdens will continue in 2009 and that concern is reflected in these survey results. Still, there is opportunity for the technology community to work with Beacon Hill leaders on a policy agenda that will minimize the short-term economic pain of the recession while making us more competitive for the future.”