The long campaign about jobs and the economy in Massachusetts is finally over and now gives way to the cold reality about jobs and the economy in Massachusetts.
Incumbent Governor Deval Patrick defied the national Republican tidal wave to win a second term at the helm of a commonwealth still seeking a post-recession economic identity. Massachusetts voters also retained overwhelming Democratic majorities in both House and Senate on Beacon Hill, sent a blue delegation to a newly red Congress and defeated a proposal to reduce the state sales tax by more than half.
The Massachusetts that Governor Patrick surveys as he savors his accomplishment this evening is a paradox - stronger economically and with many more growth assets than other states, yet fragile in its ability to deliver on the promise of opportunity to all the citizens of the commonwealth.
The commonwealth enjoys a lower unemployment rate at 8.4 percent than the nation as a whole and the $2.5 billion state budget deficit pales in comparison with the fiscal disaster in California. But the 292,300 jobless people in Massachusetts and thousands of employers struggling to hold onto their businesses are anything but sanguine about what the future holds.
The challenges facing the governor and other policymakers seeking to promote economic growth are sobering – soaring health insurance premiums, a looming 40 percent increase in average unemployment insurance rates, high electricity costs, tight commercial credit markets, consumer uncertainty and a state regulatory system that discourages innovation while creating little public benefit. Underlying many of these challenges is a pervasive sense among employers – many of whom expressed the opinion at AIM’s recent regional policy briefings – that neither policymakers nor the general public really appreciate the complexity and risk of running a business in Massachusetts.
Massachusetts employers have solutions to offer and look forward to participating in the debate on the future of the Massachusetts economy. Associated Industries of Massachusetts represents thousands of employers who stand for jobs, economic opportunity, fiscal responsibility, business formation and a government that acknowledges that the private sector has the unique ability and responsibility to create the common wealth for the people of Massachusetts.
We look forward to working with the governor, the Legislature and the Congressional delegation to build support for several key principles of economic recovery:
- A uniformly favorable environment for business development across all industries and all regions of the commonwealth.
- Economic policy that balances key public investments with a competitive cost structure that keeps jobs in Massachusetts.
- Predictable, responsible and long-term state fiscal policy.
- Well-conceived and collaborative regulation that creates measurable benefits.
- A nimble, world-class education system that provides opportunity for all Massachusetts citizens and the knowledge base for economic growth.
- Collaboration between business and government to ensure mutual success.
These principles will provide the foundation for a sustainable recovery that touches every sector of the diverse Massachusetts economy, from manufacturing to high technology to retail and hospitality. Successful economic policy creates uniform benefit throughout the marketplace, balancing the need to invest in the future without simultaneously harming the industries of the present that employ the vast majority of Massachusetts residents.
We look forward to the challenge.