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?
Sounds 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.