Speaker DeLeo talks job growth, transportation, Mass Health reform

GAF whiteshot DeLeoThe Greater Boston Chamber welcomed Massachusetts Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo as the latest speaker in the monthly Government Affairs Forum, on March 3 in Boston.  DeLeo covered several plans and initiatives related to the growth of the Massachusetts economy. The highlights:

On working with new administration
“I am pleased to start this new chapter of leadership with Governor Baker and Senate President Rosenberg. They’ve been exceptional about keeping open lines of communication and they have been incredibly receptive to partnership.”

On transportation
“I’d like to see policy be guided by three concepts:

  • Emergency planning – Planning for extreme weather is essential.  Good management considers these problems in advance.
  • Customer communication – Even in bad weather, riders deserve concrete information about MBTA train arrival times.  Every station should post reasonable time estimates, and consumers should be able to use a GPS-capable app that works for all trains system-wide;
  • Mission – The MBTA’s first priority must be to manage and maintain the system as it exists today.  The T needs a 30-Day, 5-year and long-term plans as well as sound reporting to work now and into the future.”

On attracting and retaining talent
“We remain committed to training individuals across all skillsets and to supporting programs that achieve these goals. We will seek to restore and protect funding for initiatives like MassCAN, the Intern Partnership, STEM Starter and advanced manufacturing programs.”

On regionalization
“I’m proud to highlight leading members of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, such as EMC, Boston Scientific and the Waters Corporation, that have a significant presence outside of Route 128. They work across the state to share knowledge, share resources, and in doing so, effectively bolster our economy.

On reforming Mass Health
“We plan to take a deep look into MassHealth. It’s becoming clearer and clearer that we must work to reverse the trend of MassHealth consuming an increasingly greater percentage of the state budget, year after year.”

MassHealth’s gross budget has risen close to 50 percent. That is not sustainable. We must find a durable way to solve this if we’re going to invest in what makes our state great: educating our children, protecting our most vulnerable residents like the elderly and the disabled, and spurring innovation.”

On behavioral health
“This session we will enhance our commitment to addressing behavioral health on the whole – that means addiction and mental health.”

On current and future energy needs
“We will review our energy infrastructure. Our goal will be to facilitate a reliable system – one which is resistant to price spikes during our notoriously tough winters. To do this we will promote a modernized system that is more responsive to the needs of our state.”

View the event’s full photo gallery.

Interested in attending the next Government Affairs Forum – or the many related Boston business networking speaker series? View more information.


What are Boston’s top development priorities?

On Sunday, Brian Golden, Director of the Boston Redevelopment Authority, joined This Week in Business hosts Paul Guzzi and Mike Nikitas to discuss the City’s development priorities, including creating 53,000 new units of housing by 2030 and the Olympics. Watch here.

The “Oh No’s!” of Networking Events

Networking in Greater Boston is a great way to meet people, share ideas, and grow your career. New friends, new business partners, and new opportunities await.

But you can’t get it all if you aren’t networking the right way (we share a few tips here). This also means avoiding the all-too-common pitfalls that, believe it or not, happen way too often. And can set you back (a lot).

Some examples:

What business card? You’d be surprised how many people show up to networking events without business cards. Big mistake – it’s like leaving your driver’s license or wallet at home. They’re small pieces of paper, but people depend on them to acquire your information. Think people will write your contact information down? Don’t assume that.

You’re unprepared: This Salary.com piece hits the head on the nail.  You can’t just show up to an event without doing your homework. One’s lack of preparedness shows – and can be damaging. Get a list of attendees prior (the Chamber always offers these prior to our events). Research the types of companies which will be there. And scan the business headlines of your local paper that morning; current events are one of the best icebreakers.

Waiting: Monster.com cites another frequent miscue – people only network when they absolutely have to (ie: job search mode). Networking should happen all the time. And truth be told, the best connections are made when you’re employed. Seasoned executives with a lot of equity in their companies should be out there, as should you.

It ends at “goodbye” : Events are just the starting point. Networking is about long-lasting relationships. Even some of the most enthusiastic and strongest in-person networkers fail on this, wiping away what they’ve accomplished. The second point here offers some advice, including how – and how often – you should nurture the relationships you form. (We’d add connecting with each person you meet on LinkedIn.)

Bad body language: You’re basically walking into a room of strangers. Either you – or someone else – need to kick off conversation. If your shoulders are down, lack enthusaism or you aren’t making eye contact with others in the room, no one is going to approach you. Bad body language spits out a strong perception you don’t want to be there – which means others are less prone to approach you.

What other networking pitfalls have you experienced? @bostonchamber and we’ll share them!

Want to hone your networking skills? Check out one of the top Boston networking events.


Chamber proposes five key tax reforms

For the 2015 – 2016 legislative session, the Chamber has drafted five key tax reform proposals that are designed to enhance the state’s overall business and cost competitiveness. These proposals were filed as bills by legislators for full consideration of the House and Senate this session. The legislative session is two years long, spanning from January 2015 to December 2016. Hearings and the opportunity for public comment on all filed bills will occur over the next several months.

The Chamber will meet with legislators and submit testimony to recommend the adoption of the following proposals:

  1. Eliminate the Inventory Tax, which is an additional corporate tax on inventories and financial assets that few comparable states levy. This proposal will help to create a tax regime that is more fair, predictable, modernized, and competitive.
  2.  Adopt net operating loss (NOL) carryforwards for the state’s financial services sector, which will allow this sector to claim the same deduction currently afforded to business and utility corporations in MA, and all businesses in most other states. This proposal will strengthen the Commonwealth’s competitiveness for a major employer and sector of the economy.
  3. Align the state’s economic substance rules, which are onerous, with the related federal rules. This proposal will make the burden of proof rules for withstanding scrutiny for certain transactions more clear and predictable for companies in all industries.
  4. Provide interest rate parity for taxpayers and the Department of Revenue by equalizing the rates paid for overpayments and underpayments of tax. This proposal will make the tax code more fair and competitive.
  5. Enhance Department of Revenue reporting regarding the appeals process, which can be lengthy and costly, and uncompetitive compared to other states. This proposal will help identify areas for improvement, which would make the tax administration processes more fair and competitive.

If the proposals are successful in retaining and attracting new investment in Massachusetts, any near-term reductions in state tax revenues would be accompanied by longer-term increased economic activity in the form of employment and purchases of capital equipment and structures. This increase in economic activity would generate new tax revenues for both the Commonwealth and its municipalities.

The Chamber will work to advance legislation at the Massachusetts State House to enact these proposals. For more information, please contact Jessica Seney, director of government affairs, at (617) 557-7357 or jseney@bostonchamber.com.