Business Groups Fire Back at Raise Up’s Call for Higher Taxes
By Greg Ryan, Boston Business Journal, Aug. 26, 2019
Two powerful Massachusetts business-lobbying groups blasted the pro-labor organization Raise Up Massachusetts on Monday for calling out businesses for not paying their “fair share” of taxes to improve transportation in the Bay State.
Associated Industries of Massachusetts and the Massachusetts High Technology Council sent out separate missives critical of an open letter that Raise Up had sent to state lawmakers last week. In that letter, Raise Up said that business groups are seeking to make low- to middle-income residents pay for transit improvements through regressive taxes and fees, rather than pony up corporate money to fix what many business leaders describe as a crisis. It also called on businesses to better fund schools.
The recent clash between Raise Up and the business community is a departure from the guarded optimism that leaders from both sides had expressed coming off last year’s “grand bargain” agreement. The leaders have been hopeful that going forward, the two sides would be able to negotiate compromises on key legislative issues without ugly, expensive public fighting.
The back-and-forth also comes as lawmakers on Beacon Hill will soon consider whether to increase funding for transportation — and if so, how.
In an open letter of his own Monday, AIM’s new CEO, John Regan, referenced the productive talks that his organization and others have had with Raise Up behind closed doors.
“Given that we worked together for months to craft a compromise on paid family and medical leave, I believe that your letter represents a serious statement of position and concern, rather than a political stunt,” he said. “We spent too many hours sitting across the bargaining table from one another for me to question the fact that you believe that businesses do not pay their fair share.”
He argued that businesses pay more than their fair share, pointing to the more than $3.3 billion that Massachusetts employers pay annually in state taxes. He warned that overtaxation could lead Massachusetts to see the sort of economic troubles that Connecticut is now experiencing.
Kind of ironic that Raise Up, a group that advocated for a paid family & medical leave program that will tax every worker in MA on 10/1 is suddenly concerned w/workers being taxed.
Lots of irony going on concerning transportation funding. Like tech companies that went out of their minds few years ago with the idea of putting tech services under the sales tax now demanding more spending.
The Mass High Tech Council, meanwhile, took Raise Up’s open letter as evidence the organization wants to raise taxes on businesses in addition to implementing a “millionaires’ tax.”
Raise Up’s “increasingly aggressive stance is a clear indication that they are concerned that thoughtful policymakers will realize that the (millionaires tax) is a revenue-centric ‘solution’ to a revenue shortage that simply does not exist,” the High Tech Council said in an update to members.
Raise Up’s open letter was itself a response to statements from AIM and the High Tech Council warning against increasing business costs in Massachusetts. The organization used the letter to highlight its continued support of the millionaires’ tax, which would fund Massachusetts schools in addition to transit improvements. The proposal is on track to go before voters in 2022.