Public Policy

Senate Budget Deliberations Underway

The Massachusetts Senate began their deliberations on the FY20 state budget this week. Prior to the start of deliberations,the Chamber submitted testimony in support of several line-items and amendments, including those listed below:

Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund

  • $7 million transfer to fund the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund, line-item 1595-1075

The Chamber supports the proposed increase in funding for the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund, line-item 1595-1075, from $5 million in FY19 to $7 million in FY20. Investing in the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund will help close the skills gap by developing industry partnerships to train the unemployed and underemployed and fill vacancies in high-demand job markets across the Commonwealth.

Small Business Technical Assistance Grant Program, Amendment #19 by Senator DiZoglio

  • $4 million to the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation (MGCC), line-item 7002-0040

The Chamber supports the continued funding of the MGCC Small Business Technical Assistance Program. The Program provides critical funding and other resources to nonprofits across the Commonwealth that promote economic growth through technical assistance programs and access to capital. Among other positive results, the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation reports that between 2014 and 2017 the program successfully generated more than 1,200 new business and more than 1,600 businesses grew because of the program. Successful programs like this contribute to the overall economic strength of the Commonwealth.

Center-Based Child Care Rate Increase, Amendment #212 by Senator Moore

  • $20 million to the Early Education Salary Reserve, line-item 3000-1042

The Chamber maintains its support for $20 million in funding for the salary reserve account for early educators. This funding supports the development, professionalizing, and training of the Commonwealth’s early education and care workforce.

Qualified Sellers, Amendment #363 filed by Senator Feeney

  • Amend the definitions of “marketplace seller” and “qualified seller” in Section 30

The Chamber supports this amendment, which would permit the Department of Revenue (DOR) to allow communications companies, or “qualified sellers,” to continue to collect and remit state sales taxes to the Commonwealth. As written, the proposed language in Section 30 would inject a new third party into the remittance process and split this responsibility between carrier and a third party. This proposal offers no additional advantage or revenue to the Commonwealth while creating unnecessary confusion and complications for consumers, carriers, and DOR. The amendment allows the marketplace facilitator framework to remain, while allowing proven partners to continue to assess and remit sales taxes to the Commonwealth.

Housing Choice Initiative, Amendment #856 filed by Senator O’Connor

  • $5.3 million to a local capital projects grant program, line-item 7004-2017

The Chamber urges the Senate to adopt this amendment. This initiative would fund the capital grant programs in the Governor’s Housing Choice Initiative program. These grant programs will reward communities that adopt the best practices included in H.3507 An Act to Promote Housing Choices. The Chamber supports the Housing Choice Initiative, along with the Governor’s legislation, as a straightforward and practical solution that encourages additional housing production and, importantly, strikes a balance with existing municipal authority.

Registered Apprenticeship Expansion, Amendment #378 filed by Senator Jehlen

  • $3.4 million for expanding and diversifying registered apprenticeships, line-item 7003-0151

This funding will help to expand and diversify the state’s newly-created registered apprenticeship program, which has the goal of hiring and training new employees in the health care, manufacturing, and information technology industries. The apprenticeship model is a tool for employers to develop future employees and provides individuals with the skills and training to secure employment in the state’s key industries. Ensuring that Massachusetts has a pipeline of workers with the skills required to meet growing industry needs is critical to maintaining our state’s and economic success and competitiveness.