Massachusetts House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo outlined a 2012 agenda Wednesday that includes improving the business climate, reforming health care and producing a state budget without new taxes and fees.
DeLeo emphasized jobs and economic growth in his annual address to the House, delivered six months before the conclusion of the two-year legislative session.
“In this legislative session, I will look to find opportunities to create a friendlier, better climate for the creation of new jobs,” DeLeo told House members.
He said that Massachusetts policymakers have exercised fiscal responsibility throughout the economic downturn, allowing the Bay State to avoid the credit downgrades and political animosity that has taken place in other states and on the national level.
The commitment to craft a budget without new taxes comes several weeks after Governor Deval Patrick proposed a Fiscal Year 2013 budget that would, among other proposals, increase the cigarette tax and expand the sales tax to sugar-based snacks.
“I hear time and time again from business leaders that predictability and consistency in the tax code are what's most important,” the speaker said.
“For the past two years, this House has rejected balancing the budget with new taxes and fees. Any changes to revenue policy should be approached with extreme caution and should never be done piecemeal. As such, we will release a budget from the House Committee on Ways & Means that does not rely on new taxes and fees. “
DeLeo was just as definitive about the need to address the high cost of health insurance. He acknowledged that employers speak to him frequently about rising health premiums.
“We can, I believe, reach broad agreement to significantly cut the cost growth of our health care sector while improving upon our already extremely high standards of quality-care and innovation. We will continue to monitor the market disparity between our large providers and those in your neighborhoods that are offering low-cost high-quality care and we will thoughtfully implement the most appropriate mechanisms for balancing out the system,” he said.
DeLeo said the ultimate objective of policymakers must be to create the kind of business climate that encourages the development of jobs across the economic spectrum, from white-collar positions at companies like Facebook to manufacturing jobs throughout the commonwealth. He also echoed Governor Patrick’s belief that Massachusetts must strengthen its community colleges to prepare residents for job opportunities in growing industries.
AIM applauds Speaker DeLeo for emphasizing job growth and looks forward to working with the House to accomplish its goals for economic growth.