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John Regan

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Congratulations to Top Women-Led Companies

Posted by John Regan on Nov 8, 2019 10:59:02 AM

TopWomenLedBusinesses2019

AIM directors and staff gathered today to honor member companies included in the Commonwealth Institute/Boston Globe 2019 list of Top-Women-Led Businesses in Massachusetts. Left to right, AIM Director Emily Reichert, CEO of Greentown Labs; AIM Director Janice Goodman, Owner, Cityscapes; AIM Chief Financial Officer Cindy Lyman; AIM Diversity Consultant Juliette Mayers, CEO of Inspiration Zone; AIM Board Chair Joanne Hilferty, President & CEO of Top 100 honoree Morgan Memorial Goodwill Industries; AIM Treasurer Dennis Leonard, President & CEO of Delta Dental of Massachusetts; and AIM Executive Vice President of Government Affairs Brooke Thomson.

 

Associated Industries of Massachusetts congratulates 15 member employers named to the 2019 Top 100 Women-Led Businesses list released today by The Commonwealth Institute and The Boston Globe.

The companies range from financial services giant Fidelity Investments to construction firm E.T. & L. Corporation. Five of the companies are led by members of the AIM Board of Directors – Morgan Memorial Goodwill Industries of Boston, Joanne Hilferty, President and CEO; Lancaster Packaging Inc., Marianne Lancaster, Founder and President; Onyx Specialty Papers of South Lee, Patricia Begrowicz, President; Sensata Technologies, Martha Sullivan, President and CEO; and United Personnel Services Inc., Tricia Canavan, President and CEO.

“The companies on this list represent the best of the Massachusetts business community,” said John Regan, President and Chief Executive Officer of Associated Industries of Massachusetts.

“The women who own or run these companies have not just shattered glass ceilings but built their businesses in a manner that creates economic opportunity for all Massachusetts residents.”

AIM members on the list are:

  • Children's Hospital, Sandra Fenwick, President & COO
  • Catholic Charities of Boston, Debbie Rambo, President
  • Comcast (Greater Boston), Tracy Pitcher, Senior Vice President, Greater Boston
  • ET&L Corp, Jennie Colosi, President & Treasurer
  • Elaine Construction, Lisa Wexler, President
  • Fidelity Investments, Abigail Johnson, President & CEO
  • John Hancock, Marianne Harrison, CEO
  • Lancaster Packaging Inc., Marianne Lancaster, Founder & President
  • Lasell Village Inc., Anne Doyle, President
  • Massachusetts Medical Society, Lois Dehls Cornell, Executive Vice President
  • Morgan Memorial Goodwill Industries, Joanne Hilferty, President & CEO
  • Onyx Paper, Patricia Begrowicz, President
  • Sensata Technologies, Martha Sullivan, President & CEO
  • United Personnel Services, Tricia Canavan, President & CEO
  • UMass Lowell, Jacquie Moloney, Chancellor

The honorees were announced this morning at The Commonwealth Institute/Boston Globe Top 100 Women-Led Businesses breakfast.

Topics: Massachusetts employers, Diversity & Inclusion

Brooke Thomson Named Executive Vice President of Government Affairs at AIM

Posted by John Regan on Sep 11, 2019 8:00:00 AM

Brooke M. Thomson, most recently Vice President of Government Affairs for AT&T and a former senior official with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office, will become Executive Vice President of Government Affairs at Associated Industries of Massachusetts, the association announced today.

BrookeATT&THeadShotThomson is no stranger to AIM. She has served as a member of the AIM Board of Directors and Executive Committee and chaired the board’s Government Affairs Committee for the past year. She replaces John Regan, who took over as President and Chief Executive Officer of the 3,500-member business association in May.

“Brooke Thomson will allow AIM to move forward without missing a beat on critical upcoming debates on transportation, health-care costs and education funding. She brings unparalleled intelligence and experience to the complex issues that AIM tackles every day on behalf of Massachusetts employers,” Regan said.

Joanne Hilferty, President and Chief Executive Officer of Morgan Memorial Goodwill Industries in Boston and Chair of the AIM Board of Directors added: “Brooke understands both government affairs and the broader mission of AIM as an association of forward-thinking employers working to make Massachusetts a better place for everyone by empowering success and creating change.”

Thomson joined AT&T in 2013. Her duties for the telecommunications company include legislative and regulatory affairs in both Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

Thomson came to AT&T after six years in the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office, where she served as Chief of the Business, Technology and Economic Development Division. Prior to that, she worked as legal counsel to the Massachusetts Legislature’s Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy.

Her political experience includes managing the successful campaign of Martha Coakley for attorney general in 2010.

“I am thrilled to be joining AIM, the leading voice for businesses for 104 years. I look forward to working with the outstanding AIM government affairs team to ensure that the organization remains a champion of business in the state as we continue to move Massachusetts forward,” Thomson said.

She begins her new job on September 23.

Thomson is a graduate of Northeastern University School of Law and Mount Holyoke College.

Topics: Associated Industries of Massachusetts, Joanne Hilferty

Accountability Key to Education Funding Reform

Posted by John Regan on Sep 3, 2019 8:00:00 AM

Massachusetts is about to undertake the most sweeping restructuring of public-education funding since 1993.

What does it mean for employers?

EducationThe 3,500 member companies of Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) who depend upon the public schools to prepare the workforce of the future support education reform that contains specific and measurable performance objectives. Anyone who owns or manages a business tracks return on investment and the investment we make in our public schools and students should be no different.

Employers do not support the sort of reform being promoted by some advocates who have been calling at rallies for a “blank check” of billions of dollars of state aid with no accountability.

The Massachusetts Legislature is expected to debate changes this fall to the formula used to provide money to school districts around the commonwealth. The formula was developed in 1993 as a way to equalize per-pupil school spending between poor communities with shrinking property tax bases and wealthy communities that invest significant amounts of money on their school systems.

But most people now agree that the so-called Foundation Budget is not working.

While the National Assessment of Education Progress indicates that Massachusetts has the best public schools in the nation, that same assessment shows significant achievement gaps between white students and black and Latino students. Massachusetts finds itself in the bottom half of states with respect to Black-White achievement gaps across almost all grades in reading and math and in the bottom third of states with respect to Latino-White achievement gaps across all grades in both reading and math.

The achievement gap matters to employers confronting a persistent shortage of qualified workers in an economy running at 2.9 percent unemployment. With a demographic cliff looming as baby boomer retirements threaten to shrink the size of the state labor force, Massachusetts cannot overlook any citizen who might help Bay State employers compete in the global economy.

There are other issues as well. A report this year by the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education (MBAE), the Massachusetts Business Roundtable and AIM found that employers continue to see a gap between the overall performance of the schools and the job those schools are doing preparing students for the workforce. Business leaders want schools to improve the applied skills taught to students, hire better teachers, increase hands-on and vocational/technical education, and forge business partnerships.

Reforming the school funding formula will probably cost taxpayers around $1 billion. Employers understand better than anyone the importance of making strategic investments, but they also know that pouring money into a broken system is not the answer. Employer support for education reform hinges on the establishment of clear and measurable standards that will allow everyone to determine whether changes are working for students, teachers and the commonwealth.

The evidence is clear that more money does not equal better educational performance. An online analysis of school funding by MBAE in June showed that schools serving similar student populations and spending the same amount per student can achieve dramatically different results.

For example, an elementary school in Winchendon spending $13,644 per student and serving 38 percent low-income students and 18 percent special education students has only 31 percent of students on grade level in math, while a school in Revere spending $13,913 per student and serving 43 percent low-income students and 20 percent special education students has 67 percent on grade level in math.

AIM and the rest of the Massachusetts business community insist that the following accountability measured by part of any education funding reform:

  1. Fully implement the recommendations of the Foundation Budget Review Commission through a multi-year, fully funded revision to the Chapter 70 formula that will achieve adequacy and equity for all students. Funding provisions should include revisions to the charter-school tuition reimbursement program schedule and percentages.

  2. Maintain and enhance the state accountability system to ensure new funds go to those students who need them the most and are used effectively to close achievement gaps, set statewide and district targets for closing those gaps with annual reporting on progress, and collect and report on data related to college and career readiness. The state should require, at a minimum, a user-friendly set of comparable data from school to school that correlates with student post-graduation success.

  3. Add a new Chapter 70 enrollment category for Early College and Career Pathways to enable replication and expansion of these promising high-school reform strategies. Every effort should be made to create a new approach to preparing students for the future, including the awarding of industry-recognized credentials, work-based learning opportunities, and successful college and career pathway programs.

  4. Provide significant and supplemental funding for innovation and the implementation of best practices in under-performing schools. It is vital to set aside money to support grants to schools and districts to innovate and create new approaches to closing achievement, opportunity, and skills gaps.

  5. Enact Innovation Partnership Zone legislation to provide communities with a new tool for empowering schools and educators to address persistent low-performance and encourage innovation. Allowing for the expansion of autonomy and flexibility for educators, with school and zone level decision-making, these “zones” can create collaborative partnerships for success and should be extended for voluntary use across the state.

MBAE will conduct a State House briefing on September 10 at 11 am to allow employers to outline the business view of education reform to members of the legislature. The briefing will include individual meetings with legislators to discuss the need for accountability in any changes to the school funding formula. Please contact MBAE to register.

AIM joined other business groups in August to urge Jeffery C. Riley, Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education, to ensure that additional money provided to schools in the current state budget reach the students for which it is intended.

Please contact Katie Holahan, Vice President of Government Affairs at AIM, for updates on education issues.

Topics: Education Reform, Massachusetts Legislature, Education

An Open Letter to Raise Up Massachusetts

Posted by John Regan on Aug 26, 2019 8:30:00 AM

Editor's note - Raise Up Massachusetts, the coalition of community organizations, religious groups and labor unions behind the so-called "millionaires tax," sent an open letter to legislators last week maintaining that "the current transportation and education funding crisis" is the responsibility of the business community. AIM President and CEO John Regan responds.

Dear Raise Up Massachusetts, 

We are in receipt of your open letter to the Massachusetts Legislature regarding “significant and lasting” investments in education and transportation. 

Small BusinessOf interest was the following sentence: “In fact, business groups are actively organizing to avoid paying their fair share.” 

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. 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.  

But that assertion does not comport with facts: 

  • Massachusetts employers provide 3.2 million private-sector jobs at a mean annual wage of $63,910 to the citizens of Massachusetts (US Bureau of Labor Statistics); half of those 3.2 million jobs are in small to medium-sized businesses (US Small Business Administration) 
  • Massachusetts employers pay more than $3.3 billion annually in corporate excise and other state taxes (Massachusetts Department of Revenue) 
  • Massachusetts employers pay $4.9 billion annually in local property taxes to support schools, public safety and municipal services (Massachusetts Department of Revenue) 
  • Massachusetts employers pay $22.8 billion per year to provide health insurance to their employees (Center for Health Information and Analysis)
  • Massachusetts employers generated more than $567 billion worth of goods and services during 2018 (US Bureau of Economic Analysis)
  • Massachusetts employers pay nearly $2 billion annually for workers compensation insurance premiums to protect the financial security of injured workers.
  • Massachusetts employers pay nearly $2 billion annually into the state unemployment insurance system.
  • Massachusetts employers will on October 1 begin to pay another $1 billion annually for the new paid family and medical leave program. 
  • The top 100 corporate charitable contributors in Massachusetts compiled by The Boston Business Journal gave more than $300 million to Bay State non-profit causes last year, including AIM Vision Award winner Cummings Foundation, which donated $34 million to charity.  This is just a slice of the money and time companies give to support their communities. 
  • State tax collections increased nearly 7 percent during the past fiscal year, surpassing budget benchmarks by $1.1 billion.  

Thousands of hard-working Massachusetts employers, from software startups to corner grocery stores, spend every day paying their fair share to the commonwealth by providing economic opportunity and prosperity from Boston to the Berkshires. 

These employers understand the need to address intractable issues such as transportation and education, but they also understand that the recent examples provided by Connecticut and New Jersey prove that you cannot solve these problems by punitively taxing certain businesses or individuals. 

I am delighted to engage in serious conversations with Raise Up and any other groups seeking to ensure the economic future of Massachusetts. 

Sincerely, 

John R. Regan, President & CEO 
Associated Industries of Massachusetts 

Topics: Education, Transportation, Taxation

More Substance, Fewer Stunts in Education Debate

Posted by John Regan on Aug 7, 2019 8:30:00 AM

A so-called “beach party” set up outside the State House last week by education funding advocates was a disrespectful and frivolous stunt carried out by people who should instead be focused on the well-being and economic futures of Massachusetts schoolchildren. 

BeachPartyThe point of the beach party, complete with beach balls and shaved ice with flavors such as “accountability slime lime,” was to excoriate the Legislature for going on summer recess without passing a massive restructuring of the funding formula for public schools. 

The fiscal 2020 budget Governor Charlie Baker signed last week includes a $268 million increase in state assistance for K-12 education, but activists want a multi-year commitment to ramp up education spending and address gaps in the quality of education from one community to another.

The beach party was the latest in a series of questionable antics perpetrated by the Massachusetts Education Justice Alliance and allies who want billions of dollars in additional education spending with no accountability for results.

In May, Massachusetts Teachers Association President Merrie Najimy posted a photo to Facebook of herself and three other women smiling and clutching fake pearl necklaces with a caption that read, "Alice Peisch, let go of the wealth and #FundOurFuture."

Rep. Alice Peisch, Co-Chair of the Joint Committee on Education, often wears pearls and the prop suggested that she could not understand the circumstances of poorer students because she lives in the wealthy suburb of Wellesley.

Members of the teachers union have also been observed at public meetings carrying blank checks to signal their distaste for any measurements to accompany additional spending.

The 3,500 member companies of Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) who depend upon the public schools to prepare the workforce of the future support education reform that contains specific and measurable performance objectives. Anyone who owns or manages a business tracks return on investment and the investment we make in our public schools and students should be no different. 

The stakes in the debate are enormous, beginning with an estimated price tag in the neighborhood of $1 billion. The governor and the Massachusetts Legislature deserve credit for proceeding cautiously on education reform.

AIM members who wish to be updated about the education reform debate may contact Katie Holahan, Vice President of Government Affairs. 

Topics: Education Reform, Education, Workforce Training

The Millionaires Tax is a Failure

Posted by John Regan on Apr 11, 2019 8:34:11 AM

The “millionaires tax” is a failure.

Small BusinessEvidence from states that have already imposed a surtax on incomes of more than $1 million shows that the policy causes irreparable harm to the economy while generating far less tax revenue than promised.

A millionaires tax will cause the same harm in Massachusetts, Associated Industries of Massachusetts will tell the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Revenue today.

Lawmakers have refiled a proposal to amend the state Constitution to impose a graduated income tax, adding a four percentage-point tax (representing an 80 percent increase in the personal income tax rate) on all incomes more than $1 million. The amendment would dictate that the revenue be spent on transportation and education.

An identical proposal was struck down by the Supreme Judicial Court last year in a suit brought by AIM President Rick Lord and the leaders of four other business groups, but the current proposal operates under different rules because it was filed by legislators.

A graduated income tax would eviscerate the small, family owned businesses that form the heart of the Massachusetts economy. The surtax would take an estimated $2 billion from some 17,000 Main Street businesses and others that pay taxes at the individual rate and who would otherwise use the money to hire additional employers or expand their companies.

These companies are already drowning in more than $1.5 billion in new taxes and fees to pay for a financial shortfall in the Medicaid program and to fund the new paid family and medical leave program.

How do we know that surtaxes don't work?

Because our neighbors in Connecticut just drove their economy off a cliff by raising taxes three times in the past 10 years.

Connecticut in 2009 added a 6.5 percent income tax bracket for those earning more than $500,000 per year. The state followed up with a comprehensive $1.5 billion tax increase in 2011 to deal with a budget shortfall. A final round of tax increases took effect in 2015.

According to information compiled by Pew Charitable Trusts, tax revenue for all 50 states is averaging 6.3 percent higher than it was at the start of the 2008 recession. Connecticut tax revenue, on the other hand, is only 3.8 percent higher, despite the three tax increases.

Once the economic heavyweight of New England, Connecticut is the only state in the nation which has yet to recover the jobs lost during the economic downturn.

In addition, the state has seen an out-migration of residents since 2013 and the loss of major financial investors. Data from the Internal Revenue Service showed a spike in residents earning more than $200,000 per leaving the state in 2015 and studies conducted by Connecticut state agencies and commissions have confirmed the loss of higher income residents to other states.

Income surtax laws have failed in other states as well.

Within three years of Maryland enacting its “millionaire tax,” 40 percent of the state’s seven-figure earners were gone from the tax rolls - and so was $1.7 billion from the state tax base.

Similarly, in 2010 Boston College researchers released a report on the migration of wealthy households to and from New Jersey. They concluded that wealthier New Jersey households did in fact consider the high-earner taxes when deciding whether to move to or remain in New Jersey.

The researchers’ data analysis found that from 1999 to 2003 - before the millionaires tax was imposed - there was a net influx of $98 billion in household wealth into the state. After the tax was implemented, an increasing number of wealthy families left the state, resulting in a loss of $70 billion in wealth.

Many of the business owners who fled Connecticut, Maryland and New Jersey moved to states that have worked to reduce, rather than boost, taxes:

  • North Carolina revenues grew 3.8 percent in 2016. As a result, it has reduced its 5.49 percent income tax to 5.24 percent in 2019.  It also will reduce its corporate tax to the lowest in the nation at 2.5 percent and will repeal the corporate levy as more businesses move in and revenues increase.
  • New Hampshire, a state with no income tax, is reducing corporate taxes two years in a row because of revenue growth of 2 percent.
  • Georgia is also reducing income and corporate taxes in 2019 because of a strong revenue growth rate of 4.5 percent.
  • Tennessee only taxes interest and dividends and reduced tax rates from 6 to 3 percent as its population grew 6.7 percent from 2010-2017 and revenues increased 2.4 percent.

Topics: Massachusetts Legislature, Income Surtax, Taxation

Maximum Unemployment Duration Drops to 26 Weeks

Posted by John Regan on Mar 26, 2019 6:49:33 PM

An obscure provision of the 2005 Massachusetts Unemployment Insurance Reform Law will next week accomplish what employers have sought for several decades – a reduction in the maximum duration of unemployment benefits from 30 weeks to the 26 weeks common in most states.

The provision mandates that if the unemployment rate drops below 5.1 percent in the 10 labor market regions of the state, then UI benefits are available for 26 instead of 30 weeks.  The Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development certified today that the jobless rate in all Massachusetts labor markets has dropped to less than 5.1 percent so new UI recipients as of next week will be able to collect for 26 weeks.

The benefit period will return to 30 weeks if during any month of a claimant's 26-week benefit period the 12-month average monthly unemployment rate in any one of the metro areas rises above the 5.1 percent threshold.

Cost savings associated with the 26-week maximum benefit period are $40 million in the first year and $84 million in the second year, state officials said

“I don’t think anyone at the time this provision was negotiated believed it would ever take effect,” said AIM President and Chief Executive Officer Richard C. Lord.

“The change underscores the fact the the duration of Unemployment Insurance remains one of the major competitive disadvantages that affect companies doing business in Massachusetts. We urge the Legislature to move to 26 weeks permanently.”

Topics: Unemployment insurance, Massachusetts employers

Health Insurance Costs Top Employer Concerns Heading into 2019

Posted by John Regan on Nov 29, 2018 8:00:00 AM

The rising cost of providing health insurance to employees remains the most pressing issue facing Massachusetts employers, a new AIM survey shows.

health_careThree-quarters of the employers who participated in the association’s biennial Issues Survey from September to November identified the cost of health care as one of their three policy priorities. Other major challenges include work-force availability (64 percent), regulatory issues (53 percent) and the new paid family and medical leave law (51 percent).

AIM conducts the survey to solicit employer opinions on its policy agenda for the upcoming two-year session of the Massachusetts Legislature.

“AIM members understand the value of providing good health insurance to their employees, but employers are telling us clearly that they need relief from the relentless cost increases generated by the health-care system,” said Katie Holahan, Vice President of Government Affairs at AIM.

“AIM looks forward to addressing the health-cost issue on multiple fronts, from working with industry partners on health-plan design to resolving the employer MassHealth assessment to leading an employer effort to reduce unnecessary use of emergency rooms.”

One hundred sixty-eight employers participated in the AIM survey. The top 10 issues were:

  1. The cost of health care – 74 percent
  2. The availability of work force – 64 percent
  3. Regulatory issues (including compliance) – 53 percent
  4. Paid family and medical leave – 50 percent
  5. State and local taxes – 42 percent
  6. Minimum wage & the cost of electricity (tie) – 28 percent
  7. Transportation & federal taxes (tie) – 21 percent
  8. Trade issues – 15 percent
  9. Education – 12 percent
  10. Housing – 2 percent

Several employers expressed concern about the cumulative burden of government-imposed expenses – including the $200 million MassHealth assessment, unemployment insurance and minimum-wage increases – on their ability to grow and create jobs.

Health-insurance costs have been a dominant worry for Massachusetts employers for decades.

The Massachusetts Center for Health Information and Analysis (CHIA) reported in September that health care-spending in the commonwealth grew 1.6 percent from 2016 to 2017, with costs totaling $61.1 billion, or about $8,900 per resident.

While 2017 was the second consecutive year that overall growth came in below the 3.6 percent benchmark set by the Health Policy Commission, small-business premiums rose on average 6.9 percent. Deductibles, co-pays, co-insurance and other out-of-pocket expenses were up 5.7 percent.

Contact John Regan at jregan@aimnet.org

Topics: Skills Gap, Health Care Costs, Health Care

Potential Legislative Involvement in Lockout Sets Dangerous Precedent

Posted by John Regan on Nov 2, 2018 8:34:04 AM

Proposed legislation that would penalize National Grid during the ongoing lockout of gas workers represents a troubling – and perhaps unconstitutional – foray by Beacon Hill into a private-sector labor dispute.

State House 2015The bill, called An Act relative to the employment of certain workers by National Grid, would prohibit National Grid from:

  • receiving public funds for the upgrade, repair, installation or maintenance of its gas distribution system
  • applying for funds to assist in paying the costs of gate box maintenance and improvements, or
  • receiving from the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities any increase in its rates for consumer gas or electric distribution.

The bill would also require National Grid to continue to provide health insurance under its expired collective bargaining agreements with Steelworkers Locals 12003 and 12012-04.

The House of Representatives has admitted the bill, but no hearing has been scheduled. The measure is unlikely to pass before January since the Legislature remains in informal session when a single legislator may stop a bill.

National Grid, which provides natural-gas service to 116 Massachusetts communities, has 85 communities impacted by a lockout of 1,250 workers after the Steelworkers rejected a five-year contract offer that will boost the current average employee salary, including overtime, from $120,000 a year to $137,000.

The offer also includes a 10 percent increase in the pension plan for current employees, while new employees would be assigned to a completely company-funded defined contribution plan with a 3 to 9 percent company match, in addition to a regular 401 (k) with a company match. The company’s health insurance proposal would also introduce modest deductibles and coinsurance, which the unions currently do not pay.

Intervention in a private labor dispute is beyond the scope of the Massachusetts Legislature and sets a dangerous precedent for the ability of government to takes sides in negotiations between companies and their workers. If lawmakers interject themselves in the National Grid lockout, what would prevent them from also becoming involved in disputes involving manufacturing, service or technology companies across the commonwealth?

The bill would tread upon and regulate a sphere of private sector collective bargaining that is intended to be unregulated by the U.S. Congress.  As such, the legislation is pre-empted by the National Labor Relations Act.  Strikes and lockouts are both federally protected actions.

The federal courts have a long history of pre-empting local and state efforts to shape labor disputes. In 1986, for example, the U.S. Supreme Court pre-empted the Los Angeles City Council’s bid to condition renewal of a taxi license on the resolution of a labor dispute.

The proposal could also violate the United States Constitution because, in targeting National Grid and only National Grid, it constitutes a Bill of Attainder proscribed by Article 1 of the Constitution. 

No one likes labor disputes and AIM joins others in hoping that National Grid and its unions can find common ground soon. That hope should not, however, lead elected officials down the road of political expediency.

Topics: Massachusetts Legislature, Energy, Organized Labor

What is the Biggest Issue Facing Your Business?

Posted by John Regan on Oct 22, 2018 8:00:00 AM

What is the single most important public-policy issue facing your business?

  • The ability to find qualified employees?
  • The accelerating cost and complexity of providing health insurance to your workers?
  • Declining revenue brought about by newly instituted tariffs against China and the European Union?

Small BusinessSounds like an amusing parlor game, but it’s serious business to those of us here at Associated Industries of Massachusetts who develop our policy agendas every two years based upon the needs and concerns of 4,000 member employers.

Hundreds of those employers have already told us about the issues that keep them awake nights by completing the biennial AIM Issues Survey, which will become the basis of the association’s public-policy agenda for 2019-2020. It will also become the basis of an updated version of The Blueprint for the Next Century, our long-term plan for economic growth in Massachusetts.

We expect to hear from hundreds of additional employers more as we move past the November 6 mid-term election and prepare for the new Beacon Hill legislative session that begins in January.

Employer feedback and participation are essential amid an increasingly uncertain political environment both here in Massachusetts and in Washington, DC.  It’s an environment marked by polarization and partisanship, hostility and incivility, and a Twitter-driven, bumper-sticker approach to serious issues.

Employers accustomed to working in a predictable and collaborative political process here in Massachusetts suddenly find themselves demonized by both the left and right in a political food fight in which there are few rules and precious little middle ground. Increasingly radical shifts by the two major parties are eroding long-held centrist ideologies that have framed our nation’s approach to economic growth since the early 20th century.

Moderate, pro-business Democrats in the Massachusetts Legislature face insurgent challenges from progressive activists supporting increased taxes, heavy business regulation and a notion that employers are somehow failing to “pay their fair share.” Now is the time for employers to speak up and articulate their unique role in providing economic opportunity for the people of Massachusetts.

What are employers who have already completed the Issues Survey saying?

“Can we stop making legislative changes at the ballot box?  It is an inefficient way to govern.”

“(The health-care surcharge) tax has placed an incredible financial strain, particularly on smaller to medium-sized businesses, which are already struggling to balance the health care needs of their employees with those that are mandated, but the company may not have the resources available to do.”

“Rising costs to operate in Massachusetts must be addressed.  EMAC, paid family leave, minimum wage - all of these in and of themselves are an issue but piled on it is becoming prohibitive.  We are actively working on efficiency and automation gains that will allow us to reduce the size of our work force, which is not what the commonwealth would like.  We need to recognize that many companies have competitors in other parts of the country where operating costs are not what they are here.” 

 We look forward to hearing from you.

Take the AIM Issues Survey

Topics: Associated Industries of Massachusetts, Issues, massachsetts legislature

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