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The High Tech Agenda

December 21, 2023

Massachusetts High Technology Council’s 2023 Year in Review

Dear Members and Friends,  

As we close the chapter on 2023, we find ourselves at a crucial juncture in Massachusetts’ economic trajectory. The state’s historical success has been intricately tied to the interdependence of the state’s quality of life for its residents and the competitiveness of its business climate. Since the late 1990s, Massachusetts has maintained strong national rankings in healthcare, education, and environmental sustainability. These achievements are inseparable from our business-friendly environment, which has nurtured innovation, encouraged investment, and fueled job creation. This mutually reinforcing dynamic not only attracts a talented workforce but also promotes economic stability, creating a favorable atmosphere for businesses to thrive.  

However, in the face of a shifting economic landscape, Massachusetts risks a negative ripple effect if it fails to address the factors contributing to its declining business environment. Neglecting substantial improvements in this area could lead to a diminished quality of life, potentially discouraging businesses and imperiling the state’s capacity to fund and sustain essential quality-of-life services. 

The Urgency of Bold Action

In today’s highly competitive landscape, Massachusetts faces unprecedented challenges, from inflationary pressures to workforce shortages. While external factors play a role, some economic headwinds are of our own making, such as the high cost of living and the passage of a tax “relief” bill that provides little relief to residents and businesses and includes an unconstitutional change to the voter-approved 1986 State Tax Revenue Growth Limit (Ch. 62F).  

Our competitive position is eroding, and bold action is needed. As states intensify competition for jobs and talent, Massachusetts risks losing its historic advantages, threatening job opportunities, innovation, and the overall quality of life. The consequences extend beyond economic indicators, encompassing the very fabric of the state’s vitality. The High Tech Council, rooted in a four-decade commitment, remains steadfast in its mission to revitalize the state’s business environment and foster innovation.

Tax Competitiveness & Economic Vitality

Massachusetts’ innovation-driven economy is highly mobile, and state competition is real. CNBC’s 2023 Top States for Business rankings identify Massachusetts’ strengths (#1 in Technology and Innovation; #8 in Life, Health, and Inclusion) and weaknesses (#49 in Cost of Doing Business; #34 in Infrastructure). When tax competitiveness is measured—a crucial factor influencing the retention or outmigration of investors, job creators, and residents—we find ourselves in the bottom 10 in the nation.

A Stark Reality Check: 2024 Tax Foundation Business Tax Climate Index

The 2024 Tax Foundation State Business Tax Climate index places Massachusetts at #46, signaling a risk of accelerating the relocation of our private sector to states with stable, competitive business climates. This year, Massachusetts fell further than any other state in the overall rankings, sliding 12 places since last year, from #34 for 2023 to #46 for 2024. The Commonwealth is now among the bottom five states, just above Connecticut at #47.

The Tax Foundation largely attributes this decline to the passing of Question 1 in November 2022, emphasizing the sizable marriage penalty that the surtax imposes, which Massachusetts lacked previously, and notes that this policy change represents a stark contrast to the recent reforms to reduce rates while consolidating brackets in many other states. The Tax Foundation also acknowledged that a new payroll tax went into effect this year, the implementation of which had previously been postponed. Massachusetts’ decrease in tax competitiveness is further evidenced by its 33-place decline in the individual tax component ranking, falling from 11th to 44th in just one year. These results underscore the urgency of our competitiveness agenda and the need to reverse this trend for Massachusetts to remain a premier center of innovation and economic strength.

2024 MCAS Ballot Question

As we grapple with tax competitiveness, another threat emergesthe Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA)-backed 2024 MCAS Ballot Question. Despite warnings, efforts are underway to eliminate the statewide standardized test (MCAS) as a high school graduation requirement, posing a significant risk to the progress of education reform. The MCAS stands as a pillar of our nation-leading K-12 education system, a sentiment supported by a recent Boston Globe editorial highlighting its significance in maintaining educational standards and accountability. Eliminating MCAS as a graduation requirement not only jeopardizes Massachusetts’ standing as a national leader in education but also is a disservice to students across the Commonwealth who are entitled to a quality education. 

MCAS Ballot Question

If passed, school districts would determine whether a student should receive a diploma based on their own criteria, replacing a single statewide standard with 300+ local standards. This would make Massachusetts one of only three states with no statewide graduation requirements, making our education system an outlier. 49 of 51 states (including D.C.) all have state-mandated comprehensive graduation requirements, with Massachusetts being the only state that has an assessment—the MCAS—as the sole requirement. The other 48 states (including D.C.) have course requirements and other requirements, some also requiring tests. Vermont and Pennsylvania are the only two states that have no state-mandated graduation requirements.

Of the 49 with state-mandated requirements:

  • 48 have comprehensive course requirements
  • 9 also require passing core-curriculum tests
  • 9 also require passing a civics test
  • Only Massachusetts has a sole requirement of passing an assessment


The MCAS provides objective and comparable data about school and district performance, ensuring that educators, administrators, policymakers, business leaders, and parents are held accountable for guaranteeing that every student, regardless of zip code, has equal access to the high-quality education they need to learn and prosper. Since the MCAS began, graduation rates have been at an all-time high, and dropout rates have decreased.

Promoting equity in education by providing objective data that on racial and socio-economic achievement gaps, the MCAS allows for the targeted allocation of state education dollars to districts and students that need it the most, ensuring every school is working to meet the same expectations and reinforcing the state’s commitment to educational excellence.  

The MCAS plays a crucial role in ensuring that a high school diploma signifies college and career readiness, contributing to the creation of a skilled workforce and safeguarding Massachusetts’ position as an education leader. Research conducted by Brown University also found that Grade 10 MCAS scores help predict future earnings for students from all backgrounds, highlighting the substantial value the assessment has when it comes to helping policymakers and educators prioritize needs. 

  • We look at median annual earnings ~age 30 for students at each MCAS score
  • Students with higher MCAS scores go on to earn substantially more in the labor market
  • There is substantial variation in earnings at each MCAS score point (MCAS scores explain about 13% of the variation in earnings)

At the December 6, 2023, MHTC Board Meeting, a unanimous decision was reached to oppose the 2024 ballot initiative, with data highlighting MCAS’s positive impact on student outcomes and achievements taking center stage.  

Education remains a cornerstone of our state’s success. The MCAS ballot question represents a pivotal moment in determining the path forward for our educational system. As we consider the implications, it’s essential to engage in informed discussions that prioritize the future of Massachusetts students.

Explore the Data

Historical Overview of MCAS

Where it started, where we have been, and where we are going.

Competency Determination

Overview and impact.

Economic Development in the Commonwealth

On December 12, the Healey-Driscoll administration released Team Massachusetts: Leading Future Generations, their economic development plan. Each governor is required to develop an economic development strategy in their first year in office. Governor Healey’s plan focuses on three main priorities:

  1. Fundamentals: Investing in the fundamentals to enable economic growth,
  2. Talent: Retaining and attracting the world’s best talent across all backgrounds, and
  3. Sectors: Supporting businesses that power the state’s economy

These priorities, and the strategies contained in the plan, are well-aligned with the High Tech Council’s MassVision2050 initiative and we look forward to engaging with the Healey Administration and Legislature in the coming months to put these ideas into action.

On November 30, 2023, Council President Chris Anderson and Vice President of Policy & Government Affairs, Elizabeth Mahoney, met with the Commonwealth’s Economic Development Secretary Yvonne Hao, Millipore Sigma’s Executive Vice-President Jean-Charles Wirth and the Commonwealth’s Director of Strategy and Business Development Peter Milano at MilliporeSigma, engaging in conversation on the future of life sciences in Massachusetts. MilliporeSigma is representative of the many stand-out employers across our innovation economy. Support for the backbone of our economy by the Commonwealth is essential if we are to maintain and extend our position as a world-leader in cutting-edge technologies and innovation, driven by a highly skilled workforce and a supportive business environment.

MassVision2050: A Collective Response to Complex Challenges

At the heart of our endeavors is MassVision2050—a collaborative effort to advance Massachusetts’ global economic leadership. Led by the High Tech Council, this initiative aims to accelerate capital investment, job creation, economic opportunities, and social mobility, ultimately enhancing the quality of life for all Massachusetts residents. Featured at our 2023 Annual Meeting, this initiative is a collaboration of private, public, and academic leaders shaping the future of the Commonwealth and their organizations.

MassVision2050 operates through three core workstreams:

MassVision2050: Generating Bold Ideas for Massachusetts' Future
Innovation Sector Fact Packs: Data-Driven Insights & Recommendations 

MassVision2050 zeroes in on key innovation sectors likely to drive employment and economic growth in the coming decades. A first-of-its-kind analysis was conducted to determine market size, talent needs, and growth opportunities for each of the sectors, including AI, FinTech, Cybersecurity, Life Sciences, and Semiconductors. Experts from 30 organizations representing every corner of the innovation ecosystem have come together to form MassVision2050 working groups, aiming to provide actionable recommendations and “blueprints” for growth and development in each sector. With an overarching goal of driving GDP growth within the Commonwealth over the long-term, the initial findings of this multi-year, multi-stakeholder effort establish where we are already positioned for success, investment opportunities where lagging sectors will benefit from the increased capital infusion, and regulatory/policy support, and strategies to enable success in cultivating a competitive business climate and producing a rich, diverse, and robust pipeline of talent to fuel future growth.

The Engaged Workforce: Talent Strategies & Workplace Culture 

The demand for skilled, job-ready talent cuts across every sector. Initial MassVision2050 findings reveal that the critical need for a workforce and talent pipeline equipped with 21st-century technical skills has never been greater, especially as Massachusetts struggles with high outmigration, resulting in low talent retention. The High Tech Council’s MassVision2050 Engaged Workforce initiative aims to build synergistic, sustainable multi-stakeholder partnerships throughout the talent development pipeline to ensure that:   

    • Massachusetts businesses have the talent they need to succeed, now and in the future   
    • The richly skilled and diverse pool of talent in Massachusetts draws new businesses and jobs to the state   
    • The opportunities created by tech-driven industries are broadly visible and accessible to all Massachusetts residents–driving opportunity and social mobility throughout the Commonwealth 

Ongoing Engaged Workforce projects include the Leaders for the Future workshop, the highly acclaimed program owned and operated by McKinsey & Company, and exclusively available to senior women leaders within High Tech Council member organizations at no cost. Designed to equip senior-level women with major functional responsibilities within large organizations, this transformative two-part series promises to future-proof your leadership and shape the future of your business. McKinsey’s Marla Capozzi and Megan Greenfield, Ph.D. led the first session, The Art of the Possible: Shaping the Future, on November 14, guiding attendees through interactive training that explored strategies for identifying early signs of change and types of trends, impacts of said trends and how to respond to them, as well as capabilities to shape the future, innovate, and prepare for uncertainty. The second session, Leading Innovation, will take place virtually on Thursday, February 8, 2024, from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. ET. For those interested in attending or nominating an executive to participate in the second session, please contact the High Tech Council’s Program Manager, Anita Alden. Participants must be senior-level women (VP or above) leading major businesses with P&L oversight and major functions (e.g., strategy, marketing, finance).

Mass. Opportunity Alliance: Correlation Between a Competitive Business Climate & Quality of Life 

In tandem with sector-focused efforts and talent strategies, MassVision2050 will launch a statewide campaign to defend and strengthen the Massachusetts business climate. Collaborating with key partners, the initiative will encompass strategic research and data, communications, and advocacy elements to improve Massachusetts’ competitive position and oppose and counteract policies that move Massachusetts in the wrong direction. This includes advocating for much-needed state tax reforms, such as raising the estate tax exemption, cutting the short-term capital gains rate, establishing single sales factor apportionment, and more.    

These workstreams extend beyond theory to actionable member-led ventures in 2024. MHTC members are invited to help lead initiatives such as:

  • Annual Innovation Sector Fact Pack Updates, led by McKinsey & Company.
  • Annual AI-derived Talent Supply, Demand, Skills Forecast, rather than resurrecting an additional survey for employers to complete to forecast future skills requirements and hiring by degree, we will utilize a generative AI solution to cull existing workforce skills and degree requirements and compare with supply data from educational institutions. The annual presentation of findings and recommendations will fill a void allowing employers, educators, and policymakers to accelerate solutions to close the persistent skills gap. Assistance from MITRE and Worcester Polytechnic Institute will be critical. 
  • FinTech Exchange Research Center: MHTC will advance a private sector/university/state collaborative fintech research center concept with leadership from Putnam Investments and Brandies.
  • CIO Cybersecurity MHTC-Member Community: launch with support from MKS Instruments.
  • Analysis: Impact and Recommendations of AI on Healthcare from Innovation to Delivery of Care, led by the Boston Consulting Group.
  • Mass. Microelectronics Coalition Expansion: A successful effort led by the MITRE Corp and Analog Devices, we will amplify engagement by Mass. microelectronics employers and boost state grant funding to support the regional hub in Massachusetts (one of eight national hubs) awarded by DOD in September 2023.  
  • Amplify Awareness and Engagement in BlueTech Research Center, led by MITRE.  
  • Advance Select Additional Targeted Projects that Include Workforce Training and Workplace CultureSTEMatch; Women in leadership/Diversity, supported by PTC, MilliporeSigma, and IPG Photonics.


As we navigate these challenges, the High Tech Council remains steadfast in its commitment to revitalizing the state’s business climate and fostering a competitive environment where innovation, growth, and quality of life thrive. Our collective efforts, guided by MassVision2050, propel us toward a future of economic leadership, ensuring Massachusetts continues to stand as a global innovation hub.