A legislative session marked by grand compromises and outside ballot initiatives gave state lawmakers generally solid grades in the 2017-2018 AIM Legislative Scorecard released today.
AIM publishes the Legislative Scorecard at the end of each two-year Beacon Hill session to ensure that employers know legislators’ records on key economic and public-policy issues, and to recognize lawmakers who understand the importance of a vibrant economy for all residents.
The 2017-2018 legislative session was dominated by a wave of ballot initiatives that forced employers and lawmakers to forge a broad compromise establishing paid family and medical leave, increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour and eliminating overtime pay for Sunday retail work.
AIM helped to negotiate the compromise because the proposed ballot questions on those issues were dangerous to business and almost certainly would have passed in a year of unprecedented electoral activism.
A separate potential ballot question establishing a surtax on incomes of more than $1 million died in the face of a court challenge lodged by AIM President Richard Lord and four other prominent business leaders.
And employers struggling to provide good health insurance to their employees remained frustrated at having to pay a $200 million annual assessment to close a budget gap in the MassHealth program for low-income people with no prospect of reforms.
Virtually every member of the House of Representatives earned grades of 60 percent or higher. Eight representatives topped the list at 100 percent, while 36 ended the session at 80 percent.
The ratings were based on five roll-call votes dealing with issues ranging from economic development to energy.
In the Senate, 29 of 36 members posted scores of 50 percent or better, with three senators leading the way at 75 percent. Six senators ended the session at 38 percent and three were at 25 percent.
The Senate scores were based upon many of the same issues debated by the House, as well as additional votes on so-called wage theft.
The Legislative Scorecard selects votes that reflect the objectives of The Blueprint for the Next Century, AIM’s long-term plan for economic prosperity in Massachusetts. The plan maintains that only a vibrant, private-sector economy creates opportunity that binds the social, governmental, and economic foundations of our commonwealth.
The Blueprint contains four specific recommendations against which AIM measures public policy issues:
- Develop the best system in the world for educating and training workers with the skills
needed to allow Massachusetts companies to succeed in a rapidly changing global economy.
- Support business formation and expansion by creating a uniformly competitive economic
structure across all industries, geographic regions and populations, rather than picking
winners and losers. That structure must include a reliable and efficient transportation system.
- Establish a world-class state regulatory system that ensures the health and welfare
of society in a manner that meets the highest standards of efficiency, predictability, transparency and responsiveness.
- Moderate the immense long-term burden that health care and energy costs place on
Should the Legislature resume formal sessions before January, AIM may issue an updated Scorecard.