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Public Policy

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We research, develop, and advocate for public policies that contribute to the economic success of our region and generate economic opportunity for businesses and people. Our policy priorities are designed to advance Greater Boston's:

  • Global competitiveness
  • Dynamic region
  • World-class talent

Public Policy Priorities

The Chamber works every day to make Greater Boston the best place for businesses and people to thrive. To do this, we research and advocate on six policy priorities: transportation, taxes & good government, housing, health care, education, and climate readiness.

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Transportation: Creating a world-class transportation system

On any given weekday between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m., more than 1.5 million people commute to work in greater Boston using cars, public transit, bikes, walking, car share, or other modes of transportation.[1] As a result, Boston experiences some of the worst road congestion in the United States. At the same time, much of Boston’s public transit is overcrowded during rush hour, even with ridership declines in recent years.

Our members point to transportation as their top policy priority because of its direct impact on the economy and workforce. Transportation is a pathway to address other important policy issues, such as the region’s housing crisis, climate readiness, and even health outcomes for residents.

The Chamber’s approach on transportation public policy in Boston and in Massachusetts is to:

Reduce congestion and increase public transportation ridership

  • Prioritize public transportation for state investments.
  • Implement policies and pricing to encourage or discourage behavior, not just raise revenue.

Strengthen the capital delivery capacity of the state's transportation agencies.

Ensure there is accountability for transportation funding

  • Link existing and any new funding to clear outcomes, such as how the funding will increase public transportation ridership and/or reduce congestion 

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Taxes & Good Government: Rewarding investment in Massachusetts and strengthening government

The quality of greater Boston’s overall business environment is a key driver of our ability to attract and retain employers and jobs. A strong business climate rewards investment in Massachusetts and adapts its policies so that the state is not an outlier on tax, employment, and other policies impacting businesses.

Our members are competing for talent and customers around the world, and it is important to them that the state and city have policies that support their ability to compete rather than detract from it.

The Chamber’s taxes & good government agenda includes policies that:

Support business investment in Massachusetts

  • Create state-level employer tax credits or deductions for offering college loan repayment benefits and on-site child care.
  • Create a business tax credit for cybersecurity investments.
  • Expand the single sales factor option to all industries.

Keep Massachusetts competitive with other states  

  • Modernize the state’s independent contractor law to reflect today’s workforce.
  • Update personal income tax conformity with the federal code from its current 2005 conformity.
  • Improve the state’s Unemployment Insurance system, currently ranked the worst in the U.S. by the Tax Foundation, to reduce employer costs. [2]
  • Require independent fiscal notes on all major legislation and ballot questions.
  • Avoid legislation that overreaches or adds excessive oversight and regulation.

 

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Housing: Increasing workforce housing

With the third highest housing costs among the nation’s 25 largest metro areas, housing in greater Boston is an urgent issue.[3] While many factors contribute to Boston’s high housing costs, the core problem is that demand outpaces supply. Our region’s population is rising but housing production continues to lag. Despite having the 10th largest population nationwide among metro areas, Boston ranked 18th in the number of housing units permitted in 2016.[4]

The high cost of housing affects our employers’ ability to attract and retain a talented workforce because other regions can be more attractive to prospective employees if quality housing consumes a smaller share of their income. In the race for talent, every advantage – or disadvantage – matters, so employers understand the need to address our region’s housing costs.

The Chamber’s housing policy agenda focuses on efforts to:

Reform Zoning 

  • Support Governor Baker’s housing legislation, which would allow municipalities to adopt certain zoning changes that promote best practices in housing production with a simple majority instead of the two-thirds supermajority currently needed.

Create pathways for faster approval and creative development

  • Develop and implement expedited permitting processes.
  • Explore opportunities for property tax abatements, mixed-use development, and accessory dwelling units (ADUs).


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Health Care: Balancing quality, access and affordability

In fiscal year 2019, health care costs in Massachusetts are projected to consume more than 40 percent of our state budget, diverting resources from other important public services like transportation and education. Businesses – particularly small businesses – and individuals frequently cite rising health care costs as a burden. At the same time, the health care industry is an important contributor to our state’s economy, global reputation, and quality of life. This thriving industry directly employs for over 630,000 people in Massachusetts, and indirectly employs thousands more. [5]

Our members understand that providing employees with affordable, quality care is important. They also see the budget strain that results from a significant share of state spending being dedicated to health care. Any approach to health care must balance affordability, access, and the value the industry adds to our state’s economy and quality of life.

The Chamber’s work on health care policy is to:

Leverage the Chamber’s diverse membership and find alignment for addressing cost concerns.

Understand and address drivers of MassHealth cost and enrollment 

Improve access, transparency, and reduce costs

  • Expand access to telemedicine.
  • Limit out-of-network and surprise billing.
  • Expand the scope of practice for certain providers.


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Education: Preparing the workforce for employers

With a majority of our region’s labor force holding a bachelor’s degree or higher, greater Boston’s, and the state’s, competitive advantage lies in our world-class workforce.[6] It is talent that drives our region’s economic success by producing ideas, products and services that are made in Massachusetts and have a global impact.

Investing in and fostering the talent of our current and future workforce will keep greater Boston a global competitor and create new opportunities for residents and businesses alike. The business community – as a primary customer of the public education system – has an active role in cultivating our workforce as it is key to our region’s long-term success.

The Chamber’s focus on education policy in Boston and in Massachusetts is to:

Better integrate data and accountability

  • Link new education funding to robust accountability measures, such as reporting requirements on how additional funding for English language learners and economically disadvantaged students will be used to close the achievement gap.
  • Use data-driven analysis to enhance Boston’s career/vocational technical education curriculum.

Prepare for the future of work

  • Expand access to computer science education and computational thinking.
  • Plan for re-training for the existing workforce as job functions change with technology.


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Climate Readiness: Preparing for and adapting to climate changes

By 2070, projections show that the City of Boston could face sea levels that are three feet higher than they were in 2000. In the event of a storm, higher sea levels can lead to billions in economics and impact thousands of residents and employers. Most of the flooding impact would be concentrated in Downtown Boston and the Seaport District, home to many of the region’s largest employers. [7]

From vulnerable transportation infrastructure and power grid resiliency, to changes in the insurance and real estate industries, climate change can have widespread effects. With increasing attention from businesses on the need to be ready for and adapt to climate changes, the Chamber recognizes the need to include climate readiness as a policy priority. Throughout 2019, the Chamber will research the many aspects of climate readiness and resiliency and determine the best role for the business voice in developing climate-ready policies.

Footnotes

[1] U.S. Census Bureau, 2013-2017 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table B08302, Time Leaving Home to Go to Work - Universe: Workers 16 years and over who did not work at home.

[2] Tax Foundation, Ranking Unemployment Insurance Taxes on the 2019 State Business Tax Climate Index, Oct. 2018.

[3] U.S. Census Bureau, 2013-2017 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table B25105, Median Monthly Housing Costs (Dollars).

[4] U.S. Census Bureau, 2016 Building Permits Survey.

[5] Bureau of Labor Statistics, Monthly Current Employment Statistics, Jan. 2019.

[6] U.S. Census Bureau, 2013-2017 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table B15001, Age by Educational Attainment for the Population 18 Years and Over; Chamber analysis of residents aged 25 to 64.

[7] City of Boston, Climate Ready Boston, Dec. 2016.