Government Affairs Update
As of this writing, President Biden is working to garner support for two major plans, a $2.3T infrastructure bill dubbed the American Jobs Plan announced in March and a $1.8T American Families Plan. The American Families Plan, if approved, would include: a national paid family and medical leave benefit similar to Massachusetts that would include a 12 year ramp up period; over $200B for two years of pre-K for every student; $109B for two years of community college, and grants to expand access for high-demand programs. The infrastructure plan would include: $479B for transportation infrastructure improvements to roads, bridges, public transit, Amtrak, electric vehicle production, and airports. The plan aims to spur job creation through projects designed to improve drinking water, update the electric grid, expand broadband access, and modernize buildings. It would also provide incentives for companies that manufacture products within the country, and calls for higher wages, with the President pitching a $15 minimum wage. Biden’s plans call for increasing the income tax rate for the top 1 percent of earners from 37 percent to 39.6 percent, along with higher tax rates on capital gains and dividends on individuals earning more than $1M, and eliminating other corporate tax provisions.
At the state level, Governor Baker set an end date of June 15, 2021 for the Commonwealth’s State of Emergency. The Baker-Polito administration and state legislature each continue to work on a solution for the unemployment solvency issue facing the state and impacting small businesses across the Commonwealth. On April 1, Governor Baker authorized $7B in borrowing in an effort to stabilize the state’s trust fund. This law also limited the average rate hike to 18.5 percent; however, businesses are still seeing dramatic increases, even ones who kept full staff throughout the pandemic. The state is set to receive billions from the federal government in recovery funds and the Chamber has joined with other business groups and most of the members of our legislative delegation in advocating that those funds be put into the UI trust fund to ease the burden on the business community. In other advocacy efforts, the Chamber was also part of a joint letter sent out in March to Energy Secretary Theoharides on the Clean Energy and Climate Plan for 2030 and the need for a measured approach using available resources and we testified at a transportation hearing in support of Phase II of the Twin Cities Rail Trail project in the region.
While the State House continues to operate largely remotely, the state budget is operating on a normal timeline as opposed to the current fiscal year. The Governor released his $45.6B proposed budget in January. The House released their $47.716B proposed budget on April 14, while the Senate released their $47.6B proposed budget on May 11. Once the Senate debate wraps up, the budgets will head to conference committee where the two branches work out their differences on the budget. The Chamber has been working closely with members of the region’s delegation and several coalitions throughout the budget process to advocate for economic development priorities, support for the workforce development pipeline, and increases to funding that will aid in economic recovery for North Central Massachusetts and help the industries hit hardest by the pandemic.
If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact Travis Condon, the Chamber’s public affairs manager, at (978) 353-7600, ext. 224; or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.