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Public Policy

Chamber Weighs in on Proposed Senate Budget Amendments

On Tuesday, May 23rd, Chamber President Jim Rooney submitted a letter to members of the Massachusetts Senate supporting several of the proposed amendments to their FY 2018 budget proposal.

Amendment #256: Sales Tax Prepayment, sponsored by Senator Boncore

The Chamber supports amendment #256, which requires merchants to submit prepayment for the sales tax as an alternative to real-time or daily sales tax remittance. While the Chamber opposes Section 83 of Senate bill 3, prepayment is the preferred alternative over “real time” sales tax collection as it eliminates the administrative and costly burdens placed on businesses and still generates revenue for FY18. The amendment would apply to merchants with an annual tax liability of $1 million, and would require them to make an estimated prepayment of sales tax not less than 50% of the liability from the same calendar month of the preceding year. This would also generate the $125 million in FY18 revenue already built into the budget.

This amendment avoids any attempt to implement a real-time sales tax remittance program, which would have substantial costs for retailers, vendors, third-party payment processors, card issuers, payment networks, and ultimately consumers. The added complexity of implementing a real-time tax collection system would also be particularly costly for the Department of Revenue as it would be more difficult to administer, audit, and track compliance of tax payments. The one-time revenue generated by real-time sales tax remittance does not justify the long-term burdens and cost of implementation and compliance on all stakeholders.   

Amendment #1020, Springfield to Boston High-speed rail feasibility study, sponsored by Senator Lesser

The Chamber is working to connect regions across the state to support a statewide economic development strategy that will ensure Massachusetts remains competitive with other states and regions. Because of this, we support amendment #1020 that would create a feasibility study to examine the benefits and costs associated with creating a rail line between the state’s two largest cities Boston and Springfield. 

Amendment #113, School-to-Career Connecting Activities sponsored by Senator Chang-Diaz

The Chamber supports Amendment #113 which would increase the School-to-Career Connecting Activities line-item 7027-0019 from $2.6M to $3.4M, which is the level recommended by Governor Baker. This level of funding helps support work-based learning experiences and create career pathways for students and talent pipelines for employers.

Amendment #711, Learn to Earn sponsored by Senator Lewis

The Chamber supports Amendment #711 which would fund the Learn to Earn initiative, line item 7002-1080 at $4M. The Learn to Earn initiative originally proposed in Governor Baker’s budget would aim to train and connect unemployed and underemployed individuals to jobs vacancies in high demand industries across the Commonwealth—helping employers meet demand while helping place workers on sustainable career paths.  

Health Care Employer Contribution Program 

In addition to the above amendments, the Chamber has also provided an analysis of the Senate Ways and Means employer health care assessment proposal included in Section 96 of Senate bill 3. You can view the Chamber’s analysis here. The Chamber is also supportive of the Senate strengthening language in Section 96 of S.3 that would explicitly recognize Multi-Employer Welfare and Health Plans in the assessment program and ensuring a clear legislative directive that employers who pay into such plans on behalf of their employees would not be assessed.  

View the Chamber’s FY18 Senate budget amendments letter here.

The Chamber also signed onto two other letters pertaining to the Senate budget, one concerning a collection of education amendments (#92 through #100) and another regarding ambulance rate setting (#514). 

View the coalition’s letter regarding the education amendments here.

View the coalition’s letter regarding the ambulance rate setting amendment here.