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Video Blog | Speaker DeLeo Talks Energy, Economic Development

Posted by Christopher Geehern on May 23, 2016 7:30:00 AM

House Speaker Robert DeLeo touched on energy costs, work force training and economic development during his keynote address to the AIM annual meeting on May 13.  DeLeo said that the House of Representatives shares with AIM a commitment to ensure that the economic growth buoying the Boston area spreads through the commonwealth.

Here is a video of the speaker's full address:

Topics: Speaker Robert DeLeo, AIM Annual Meeting, Massachusetts House of Representatives

Speaker Pushes Statewide Economic Growth

Posted by Christopher Geehern on May 13, 2016 2:59:38 PM

The Massachusetts House of Representatives shares with Associated Industries of Massachusetts a commitment to ensure that the economic growth buoying the Boston area spreads through the commonwealth, House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo told the AIM annual meeting today.

DeLeogood.jpg“For the past two years, extending the circle of economic prosperity from Boston to each corner of the commonwealth has been a chief priority of the House. I’m proud to say that through economic development bills, trips around the state, and a recently launched initiative called the Bay State Business Link, we are making gains,” DeLeo told more than 750 executives gathered at the Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel.

DeLeo noted that he last keynoted the AIM annual meeting during the height of the recession in 2009.

“I’m proud to say that in the past seven years we have overcome adversity and set a foundation for sustainable recovery,” he said.

 “In the House, we embrace our legacy of creating workable, practical solutions. Our goal is to create sustainable legislation that will result in positive long-term consequences. From workforce training; to economic development bills that focus on diverse regions and industries; to education; to our nationally-heralded gun safety legislation: we are known for pairing bold ideas with commitment to collaboration.”

DeLeo’s remarks followed the presentation of the inaugural AIM Vision Awards for contributions to the Massachusetts economy to General Electric Company of Boston, Nuance Communications of Burlington and noted brain researcher Dr. Ann McKee of Boston University. AIM also presented the John Gould Education and Work Force Development Award to Morgan Memorial Goodwill Industries of Massachusetts.

AIM Board Chairman Daniel Kenary announced in his annual remarks that the AIM Board of Directors has approved a restructuring that will allow AIM’s human resources operation to accelerate its growth, while the larger organization recommits itself to being the best public policy advocacy group in the nation.

AIM HR Solutions, formerly known as the Employers Resource Group, will become its own business center with the goal of building on annual revenues of $2.1 million. AIM HR Solutions will help employers wrestle with the complexity of managing a work force and comply with an ever- growing maze of employment laws.

“The change is intended to allow our managers to push full throttle on two business units that are already remarkably successful.  There isn’t an association anywhere in the world that would not give its right arm to have these two businesses. Your Board of Directors is excited about the possibilities this change will create,” said Kenary, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of The Harpoon Brewery.

Kenary also suggested that AIM is at a crossroads born of an increasingly volatile political environment that is challenging employers to articulate a positive and compelling vision for the role they play in the larger society. He called for employers to adopt an “entrepreneurial populism” under which they engage with the political process in their home communities.

“The late House Speaker Tip O’Neill’s maxim that ‘all politics is local’ has never been truer that it is today. And if all politics is local, the employer community represents a sleeping giant with enormous potential to drive sound public policy from the bottom up,” Kenary said.

Topics: Massachusetts Legislature, Economic Development, Massachusetts House of Representatives

Pulling the Plug on Solar Reform

Posted by John Regan on Apr 6, 2016 3:05:08 PM

Massachusetts lawmakers last week imposed an $8 billion tax on electric ratepayers and put the money into the pockets of solar energy developers.

solarpanels.small.jpgThe state Legislature approved a bill that does nothing to reform the commonwealth’s bloated solar-energy subsidy program. The result: businesses and homeowners will continue to foot the bill for twice as much in solar giveaways as residents of other states.

Governor Charlie Baker said Friday that he will sign the measure.

And big solar isn’t done. Even before the ink dries on the current bill, solar energy advocates are rallying to raise the cap again before the end of the legislative session, continuing what appears to be a never-ending demand for government-mandated support.

“AIM supports the development of solar energy and takes pride in the fact that many of its 4,500 member employers have installed solar at their plants and offices,” said Robert Rio, Vice President of Government Affairs at AIM.

“But this bill represents lawmakers turning their backs on ratepayers to perpetuate an ideologically based energy policy.”

The solar bill that emerged from a legislative conference committee on Tuesday would raise the cap on net metering – the process by which solar developers sell excess electricity back to the power grid – by 60 percent for private projects and 75 percent for public projects. The primary reform contained in the measure would lower the net metering credit to 60 percent of the retail rate, but that reduction would not apply to facilities owned by municipalities and government entities.

“Municipalities and other government entities will still receive retail rates for net metering – a sad case of ‘taking care of your own’ while others pay,’ ” AIM said in a letter to the Legislature this morning.

The proposal will add $8 billion to the energy bills of Massachusetts consumers during the next 10 years - 2.0 cents/kilowatt hour for residential customers and 1.6 cents/kWh for Commercial and Industrial customers.   

AIM supports reform of solar subsidies because Massachusetts employers already pay some of the highest rates for electricity in the country. The legislature with the current bill has shown neither the will nor the inclination to say no to unnecessary subsidies, even when other states have reformed their programs in the face of falling costs for solar installations.

Solar subsidy advocates are already planning to seek additional increases in the program.

"With the bill's 3 percent increase to the program cap, we expect to address net metering again next year in order to avoid endangering solar jobs yet again,” said Sean Garren of VoteSolar.

AIM urges the state Senate not to pass the conference report and asked Governor Charlie Baker to veto it.

Topics: Massachusetts House of Representatives, Energy, Solar Subsidies

Speaker Outlines Clear Economic Strategy

Posted by Rick Lord on Feb 12, 2015 12:46:04 PM

DeLeogoodBalance 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.

Topics: Massachusetts Legislature, Massachusetts economy, Massachusetts House of Representatives, House Speaker Robert DeLeo

Scrap the Back-Room Solar Subsidy

Posted by Bob Rio on Jun 23, 2014 6:30:00 AM

How did your neighbor afford to install the array of solar panels now sitting on his roof?

solarpanels.smallSimple - you paid for some of it.

And you may soon pay more for it because of a back-room deal hatched by solar panel providers and other special interests on Beacon Hill.

The House Ways and Means Committee is debating a proposed revamp of the state’s expensive solar subsidy program that would add an estimated $1.5 billion to the electric bills of employers and consumers during the next 15 years.

The bill was developed behind closed doors by state officials and organizations with a vested interest in keeping the program as lucrative as possible, including solar and clean-energy lobbyists and at least one solar installation company. Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) and other advocates for electric ratepayers were excluded.

AIM enthusiastically supports the use of solar power in the Bay State, but opposes the current proposal to lift the existing cap on the subsidy, or net metering, program in specific utility territories. The rate shock caused by the measure will place a damper on the economy by increasing costs for the commercial and industrial ratepayers who currently foot 40 percent of all electricity costs in Massachusetts.

The association, in a letter sent last week to the Ways and Means Committee, urges the panel to direct the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) to initiate a new and transparent discussion of solar net metering with realistic timelines, realistic goals and a multitude of options, including a cap on the yearly cost of the program. The objective should be to advance renewable power while simultaneously reducing overly generous subsidies to this industry.

Net metering allows customers to receive credits to their electric bill for generating solar power.

“Net metering benefits only those who are able to install solar panels on their roofs or have some access to community solar programs. It largely excludes low-income people, renters and small businesses that do not have the appropriate land area for solar,” said John Regan, Executive Vice President of Government Affairs at AIM.

“The result is that the ‘have-nots’ will subsidize those who have the means to install these panels, a wealth transfer amounting to billions of dollars. As the program gets larger, the subsidies get larger, creating a never-ending escalation of costs to those left on the system still paying the bill

The bill would also replace a second subsidy program that establishes a market for solar energy certificates sold to utilities so they meet their renewable energy mandates, with an electricity tariff program designed to get as much as 1,600 megawatts of solar developments built in the state.

AIM’s objections to the current bill include:

  1. The troubling, non-collaborative approach that deliberately excluded interested parties from the development of the new draft.
  2. Lack of disclosure concerning the cost of the program to ratepayers.
  3. Language that eliminates oversight by the Legislature.
  4. Unclear need for the legislation.

The secretive negotiations that produced the current bill have made it nearly impossible for AIM and other organizations representing the interests of ratepayers to estimate the final cost of the expanded subsidy program. Negotiators refused to discuss the cost of the program at an informational meeting on June 11 in Boston and dismissed a question from the audience on this topic as irrelevant.

And financial data is not the only evidence missing from the proposal. The solar subsidy has often been touted as necessary to reach greenhouse gas-reduction goals, but there was no indication at the informational meeting or in the supporting documents as to the amount of greenhouse gases that would be reduced by this program or the cost per ton of greenhouse gases reduced.

“A rush to pass this legislation will touch off a firestorm of criticism from a business community forced to pick up the tab for a poorly conceived and economically destructive program.   The Legislature is being handed in the hectic final days of the session a costly measure that will set energy policy for decades to come with no protections for ratepayers,” AIM said in its letter to the committee.

 

Topics: Massachusetts House of Representatives, Energy, Subsidy

House OKs Unemployment Reform; Freeze Remains Priority

Posted by John Regan on Apr 3, 2014 11:14:00 AM

The Massachusetts House of Representatives last night joined the state Senate in passing legislation to freeze Unemployment Insurance rates and avert a $500 million tax increase on employers that took effect on January 1.

Unemployment InsuranceIssue closed right? Well, not so much. The two branches disagree about how to wrap that freeze into a broader set of reforms to the state’s costly UI system, so employers still find themselves staring down the barrel of a 33 percent jump in UI taxes.

Lawmakers will eventually work out their differences in a conference committee, but that process is complicated because House and Senate have passed different bills dealing with UI reform and a minimum-wage increase.

“The priority for the Legislature must be to freeze Unemployment Insurance rates for 2014 before employers pay first-quarter UI taxes. Otherwise, the economy will be saddled with an unnecessary tax increase at a time when the fund used to pay jobless benefits is financially stable,” said Richard C. Lord, President and Chief Executive Officer of Associated Industries of Massachusetts.

The House voted 123-24 last night to pass a bill that would freeze UI rates, introduce modest reforms of the Unemployment Insurance system, and raise the Massachusetts minimum wage from the current $8 per hour to $10.50 per hour over three years. The Senate passed legislation in February to increase the minimum wage to $11 per hour over three years and then link it to the rate of inflation.

The House UI reform package would:

  • Expand the wage base upon which UI benefits are calculated from $14,000 to $15,000 in 2015.
  • Incorporate an expanded rate table previously passed by the Senate that would make rates more dependent on the hiring and firing record of individual companies.  Rates for 2015, 2016 and 2017 would be frozen at Schedule C on the new table.
  • Retain the current one-year window for determining the experience rating of employers.
  • Prohibit self-employed “persons of influence” from laying themselves off on a seasonal basis and collecting unemployment benefits.

Neither the House nor the Senate bills include provisions supported by AIM to reduce the maximum duration of benefit weeks from 30 to 26 or increase the time people must work before collecting benefits. AIM opposes increases to the state minimum wage.

Lord called the House vote a “step in the right direction” toward addressing UI rates that are among the highest in the nation.

“We are gratified that both the House and Senate have passed Unemployment Insurance reform. Employers did not get everything they wanted, but we look forward to continuing the conversation with Beacon Hill lawmakers in the months ahead,” Lord said.

Need more information? Join the AIM Brown Bag issues Webinar on April 9 at Noon.

Topics: Minimum Wage, Unemployment insurance, Massachusetts House of Representatives

House Plans Debate on Unemployment Insurance, Minimum Wage

Posted by Christopher Geehern on Mar 31, 2014 6:46:00 AM

The Massachusetts House of Representatives is scheduled to debate a bill Wednesday that would reform Unemployment Insurance and increase the state minimum wage, but continued wrangling on Beacon Hill makes it uncertain when either of those matters will land on the governor’s desk.

Unemployment InsuranceEmployers, meanwhile, continue to confront an unnecessary $500 million increase in Unemployment Insurance taxes for 2014, even though both the House and Senate have separately approved UI rate freezes. Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) today renewed its call for lawmakers to pass a stand-alone rate freeze that would avert a 33 percent rate increase before employers have to pay it.

“Time is running out to address a catastrophic tax increase that could dampen an already tentative economic recovery. The House and the Senate agree that UI rates should be frozen for 2014 - let’s pass that freeze and then engage in meaningful debate about broader UI reforms and the minimum wage,” said John Regan, Executive Vice President of Government Affairs for AIM.

The House bill to be debated this week will take the form of an amendment to legislation governing domestic workers. The measure would:

  • Freeze Unemployment Insurance rates for 2014.
  • Expand the wage base upon which UI benefits are calculated from $14,000 to $15,000 in 2015.
  • Incorporate an expanded rate table previously passed by the Senate that would make rates more dependent on the hiring and firing record of individual companies.  Rates for 2015, 2016 and 2017 would be frozen at Schedule C on the new table.
  • Retain the current one-year window for determining the experience rating of employers.
  • Prohibit self-employed “persons of influence” from laying themselves off on a seasonal basis and collecting unemployment benefits.
  • Increase the Massachusetts minimum wage over three years, from the current $8 per hour to $9 per hour on July 1, $10 per hour on July 1, 2015, and $10.50 per hour in July 1, 2016. The minimum wage would not be indexed to inflation, but would always be at least 40 cents per hour higher than the federal minimum.
  • Include a provision supported by AIM giving employees the option of being paid semi-monthly rather than weekly or bi-weekly.  Semi-monthly pay results in 24 pay periods per year while bi-weekly has 26 pay periods per year.

Neither the House bill, nor a Senate UI reform passed on February 6, include provisions supported by AIM to reduce the maximum duration of benefit weeks from 30 to 26 or increase the time people must work before collecting benefits.

Senate President Therese Murray warned last week the House decision to develop its own, combined UI/Minimum Wage bill could jeopardize its fate this session.

“That would compromise the timeframe greatly because then we would have to take up a whole new bill here which we’ve already done it twice and that could take as much as eight weeks or more during budget season so that’s why we were trying to prevent that from happening,” Murray told the State House News Service.

Topics: Minimum Wage, Unemployment insurance, Massachusetts House of Representatives

State Extends Unemployment Tax Deadline

Posted by Christopher Geehern on Mar 24, 2014 6:21:00 AM

Unemployment InsuranceMassachusetts has extended by one month the deadline for employers to pay first-quarter Unemployment Insurance bills as lawmakers remain deadlocked over the best way to freeze UI rates and head off a $500 million tax increase that took effect January 1.

Both the state Senate and House of Representatives support a rate freeze for 2014, but disagree about how to wrap that freeze into a broader set of reforms to the state’s costly Unemployment Insurance system. House leaders were unable to vote last week on Speaker Robert DeLeo’s UI reform and minimum wage proposal because of a procedural maneuver by the Senate not to extend the time for reporting the bill from committee.

The vote Thursday by the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance Advisory Committee to postpone first-quarter UI payments until May 30 will give lawmakers additional time to avert a 33 percent rate increase before employers have to pay it.

AIM Executive Vice President of Government Affairs John Regan, who represents employers on the DUA Advisory Committee, said the delay is the only way to prevent hundreds of millions of dollars from being unnecessarily drawn out of the productive economy. The Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund used to pay jobless benefits in Massachusetts currently enjoys a healthy balance of approximately $800 million.

“AIM supports the delay but is disappointed that it is necessary at all.  The UI rate freeze is an agreed upon policy choice that should have been done days, if not weeks ago.  We are still hopeful that a freeze will be taken up sooner rather than later,” Regan said.

“The change in the regulations ensures that employers’ bills are processed in a timely manner and not at the last minute.”

Multiple media outlets reported last week that the House bill would raise the minimum wage to from $8 per hour to $10.50 per hour, freeze unemployment insurance rates for the next four years, and reward businesses with a record of low employee turnover.

The proposal, initially outlined two weeks ago by DeLeo, would:

  • Raise the per-employee taxable wage base from $14,000 to $16,000. A separate UI reform bill passed by in February by the Senate raised the taxable wage base to $21,000.
  • Introduce a new rate table with levels added at each end of the spectrum to decrease the financial burden on high-rated employers with low workforce turnover while penalizing negatively rated employers.
  • Create a new employment fund to be capitalized by an increase in a per-employee tax on businesses and dedicated through grants to community-based job training organizations. The fees would be adjusted to generate $80 million for the fund, up from the existing $18 million cost to business.

Neither the House bill, nor the Senate UI reform passed on February 6, include provisions supported by AIM to reduce the maximum duration of benefit weeks from 30 to 26 or increase the time people must work before collecting benefits.

Regan urged lawmakers to prioritize the 2014 rate freeze and then hammer out their differences over long-term reform.

“Uncertainty is the enemy of economic growth and the impending UI rate increase represents a huge dose of uncertainty for Massachusetts employers,” he said.

AIM has opposed increasing the minimum wage at the state level. The House proposes to increase in the minimum wage to $10.50 by July 2016, and expand the earned income tax credit in Massachusetts from 15 percent of the federal credit to 20 percent, saving taxpayers an estimated $41.2 million to $45.5 million, according to documents prepared by the committee.

Topics: Massachusetts senate, Unemployment insurance, Massachusetts House of Representatives

House OKs Stand-Alone Unemployment Insurance Rate Freeze

Posted by Christopher Geehern on Feb 13, 2014 7:24:00 AM

The Massachusetts House of Representatives approved a stand-alone Unemployment Insurance rate freeze yesterday that would avert an automatic $500 million tax increase on employers that took effect on January 1.

Unemployment InsuranceThe measure freezing rates at the current Schedule E will now go to the Senate, which last Thursday passed a similar measure as part of a sweeping restructuring of the system that pays benefits to jobless workers. The timing of the Senate debate remains uncertain.

"The House deserves tremendous credit for moving quickly to avoid a catastrophic tax increase on employers," said John Regan, Executive Vice President of Government Affairs at Associated Industries of Massachusetts.

"Employers are certainly interested in making long-term reforms to an antiquated unemployment system, but the immediate need is for Beacon Hill to enact a rate freeze before the Department of Unemployment Assistance sends out first-quarter tax bills in April."

Representative Brian Dempsey, D-Haverhill, chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, acknowledged during debate that House leaders expect to  craft a UI reform bill, but that time is becoming short to avert the 33 percent rate increase. Speaker Robert DeLeo, D-Winthrop, has said he would like to link UI reform to a measure to increase the state's $8 per hour minimum wage.

"The reason we are adopting the freeze today is really one of management because the bills have to go out and if we do not take action today it becomes a very challenging situation," Dempsey told the House.

The Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund used to pay jobless benefits in Massachusetts currently enjoys a healthy balance of approximately $800 million.

The House approved the rate freeze as part of a larger $154 million spending bill.

Senate leaders said last week that their Unemployment Insurance reform bill is designed to stabilize UI tax rates for most employers and make those rates more dependent on the hiring and firing record of individual companies. 

Under the Senate bill:

  • The wage base upon which UI payments are calculated would rise from the current $14,000 per year to $21,000 per year in 2015, a change that by itself would escalate costs for employers.
  • An expanded rate table would take effect in 2015, and rates would be set at a new Schedule C for 2015, Schedule A for 2016 and back to Schedule C for 2017. The expanded rate table should offset the effects of the increased wage base for companies with stable employment histories while raising rates for some companies that add and terminate workers frequently. Under the new rates, the most stable employers would pay $153 per employee per year, while the worst-rated companies would pay $2,337 per employee annually.
  • Company UI taxes rates will be based upon the average of three years payroll instead of one, minimizing rate shock for expanding companies or those that encounter cyclical economic problems and find themselves having to lay people off.

AIM was disappointed that the Senate did not reduce the maximum duration of benefit weeks from 30 to 26 or increase the time people must work before collecting benefits, but the association expects to place those issues front and center when the House takes up its reform bill.

Topics: Unemployment insurance, Massachusetts employers, Massachusetts House of Representatives

Governor, Speaker Affirm Support for Unemployment Insurance Reform

Posted by John Regan on Jan 29, 2014 2:19:00 PM

Massachusetts employers should be encouraged that Governor Deval Patrick and House Speaker Robert DeLeo (right) have both affirmed in the past 24 hours their support for reforming the commonwealth’s antiquated Unemployment Insurance system.

Speaker Robert DeLeoAIM strongly urges lawmakers to ensure that the reform is substantive.

“This is the year we are going to improve our Unemployment Insurance system,” DeLeo said during his annual address to the House this afternoon.

Linking unemployment reform to a push to increase the minimum wage, the speaker told House members that “any increase in the minimum wage must be paired with meaningful improvements to our unemployment insurance system.”

Speaking from the same podium during his State of the Commonwealth address Tuesday night, Governor Patrick said: “We ought to change the incentives in our UI system to encourage the hiring of the long-term unemployed, to make it easier for those on unemployment to start their own business, and to make it more straightforward for companies to comply. I submit that we can have a system that encourages hiring, not one that raises even a second thought about it.”

Massachusetts UI costs, driven by high wages, lenient qualification requirements and an overly generous benefit structure, are among the highest in the country. AIM has long supported changes to the system through which benefits are paid to unemployed workers.

It is a system that has generated dizzying uncertainty for employers during the last six years as lawmakers have been forced to freeze automatic rate increases that were not needed to maintain the financial stability of the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund. Massachusetts employers saw UI taxes jump 33 percent on January 1, which will drain an additional $500 million unless the Legislature freezes rates before billings go out for the first quarter.

AIM was pleased that Speaker DeLeo today committed to seeking a freeze.

AIM has a clear definition of substantive UI reform:

  1. Adjust the UI rate schedule to require negatively rated employers, those who habitually put employees into the UI system, to pay higher rates than more stable employers whose employees rarely use the UI system; and to require that new employers contribution rate be set at the so-called zero positive rate, more accurately reflecting the employers actual trust fund balance and avoiding "sticker shock" when receiving the actual bill after the first year of operation. 
  2. Increase the work requirement for eligibility to collect UI benefits from 30 times the weekly benefit amount to forty and requiring wages to be paid in at least two quarters, bringing Massachusetts into line with the majority of other states; (estimated annual savings:  $30 million.)
  3. Reduce the maximum duration of benefit weeks from 30 to 26 when the state's economy is performing well by adjusting the statutory trigger mechanism from 5.1 percent unemployment in each of the 10 local labor markets in the state to a straight 5.1 percent unemployment rate statewide over the preceding six months - producing savings in the UI Trust Fund of between $50 and $90 million per year. This provision would bring Massachusetts' benefits into line with all other states.

DeLeo also said the House would produce a Fiscal Year 2015 budget with no new taxes and fees.

“We’ve taken decisive action to make Massachusetts work, to signal to companies near and far that we are open for business, to strengthen our economy and support our citizens during the worst … downturn since the Great Depression,” he said.

 

Topics: Unemployment insurance, Massachusetts House of Representatives, House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Deval Patrick

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