Balance the budget with no new taxes or fees.
Extend economic growth beyond Greater Boston.
Reduce unnecessary regulatory barriers.
Stabilize energy costs.
Develop an educated work force.
House Speaker Robert DeLeo checked off all the important issues yesterday in outlining a clear and well-reasoned strategy to improve the Massachusetts economy. Speaking to House members at the start of the 2015-2016 session, DeLeo echoed many of the recommendations of AIM’s new Blueprint for the Next Century long-term plan to expand economic opportunity for the citizens of the commonwealth.
The Democratic speaker’s approach is also remarkably consistent with Republican Governor Charlie Baker’s agenda on opposition to new taxes and support for streamlining burdensome regulations. Such agreement between two of the commonwealth’s three top political leaders, coupled with Senate President Stanley Rosenberg’s reputation for pragmatism on economic issues, suggest a predictable environment for employers in the next several years.
“In the coming session, we will reaffirm our commitment to economic success. We will look to support the innovative programs that are spurring growth in Boston and beyond,” DeLeo told House members.
“Even as we face unforeseen fiscal circumstances, we will find inventive ways to extend our economic success to every sector of the commonwealth. I’ve seen what many of these regions have to offer: the pockets of innovation, the entrepreneurs, the people who make Massachusetts work.”
John Regan, Executive Vice President of Government Affairs at Associated Industries of Massachusetts, said DeLeo’s approach reflects growing consensus among policymakers for the need to create a uniformly positive business climate across all economic sectors and in all regions of the state.
“The cornerstone of the relationship between employers and government is the ability of policymakers to manage the budget, control costs and provide services efficiently. Speaker DeLeo is clearly committed to doing that in way that will then allow the commonwealth to address some of its long-term economic challenges,” Regan said.
The Massachusetts constitution requires legislators and the governor to maintain a balanced budget. Governor Deval Patrick and state lawmakers managed to balance the books during the Great Recession and recovery with two tax increases – a sales tax increase from 5 to 6.25 percent in 2009 and a $500 million jump in the gasoline and other taxes in 2013 – along with a multi-year drop in the corporate excise tax.
DeLeo said tax-and-fee increases harm working families.
“We know many families’ budgets are stressed to the limit. We will not add to that burden. For that reason, the budget plan that comes out of the Committee on Ways and Means will contain no new taxes and fees,” the speaker said.
DeLeo made his comments on the same day that the House approved legislation to fill a $768 million gap in the current fiscal year with a mix of redirected revenues and spending cuts. The legislation establishes a corporate tax amnesty program and would redirect capital gains tax receipts into the general fund while trimming spending across state government.