On April 20, the Chamber submitted a letter to members of the House of Representatives regarding the House Committee on Ways and Means FY 2019 budget proposal. The letter provides commentary on a wide range of issues, including the Committee's monthly estimated sales tax payment structure plan, funding for the Governor's Housing Choice Initiative, and investments in workforce development and early education.
Monthly Estimated Sales Tax Payment Structure
- Sections 25, 26, 29, and 30, which would forgo the plan to implement accelerated sales tax remittance in favor of examining the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of a monthly estimated sales tax payment structure
The Chamber strongly prefers a study of a monthly estimated sales tax payment structure over implementing accelerated sales tax remittance. The Chamber has consistently expressed its serious concerns with the potential change to accelerated sales tax remittance in Massachusetts because that shift would add costs and complexity to businesses and the Department of Revenue with little or no benefit to the state. This proposal to study monthly pre-payment will provide stakeholders an opportunity to understand the potential impact before mandating significant changes to how businesses collect and remit sales tax.
Housing Choice Initiative
- Amendments 745, 859, and 1051, which create line-item 7004-2017 to fund the Governor’s Housing Choice Initiative
Amendments 745, 859, 1051 would fund the capital grant programs in the Governor’s Housing Choice Initiative. These grant programs will reward communities that adopt the best practices included in H.4290, An Act to Promote Housing Choices. The Chamber supports the Housing Choice Initiative as a straightforward and practical solution that encourages additional housing production and, importantly, strikes a balance with existing municipal authority. While a number of factors must be addressed to impact the current housing shortage, the Housing Choice Initiative is an important first step to meet the needs of our current and future workforce.
Investments in Training & Workforce Development
- $5 million for the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund, line-item 1595-1075- Amendment 1387
- $2 million for the STEM Pipeline Fund, line-item 1595-7066
The Chamber supports Representative Wagner’s amendment 1387 that would increase the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund, line-item 1595-1075, to $5 million for FY19. This is the same funding level that Governor Baker included in his H2 FY19 budget. 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. Additionally, the Chamber supports the $2 million for the STEM Pipeline Fund, which aids the STEM Advisory Council in expanding access to high quality STEM education to cultivate a well-prepared future workforce.
Investments in Early Education
- $20 million for the Early Education Salary Reserve, line-item 3000-1042
- Section 32, which establishes an Early Education and Care Workforce Council
Like last year, 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. Similarly, the Chamber supports Section 32 which creates an Early Education and Care Workforce Council to make recommendations on enhancing educational and professional development opportunities within the early education and care workforce.
Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
- Section 16, which increases the state match of the federal Earned Income Tax Credit from 23 percent to 30 percent
The Chamber supports this increase in the EITC because it is proven to stimulate economic growth while providing tax relief in the form of a refundable credit to working, lower-income filers. Increasing the state match demonstrates the state’s commitment to using proven solutions to support its residents’ growth and success.