Opinion: Giving Massachusetts Businesses A ‘Fair Share’

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State Sen. Michael O. Moore, D-Millbury Photo Credit: Steve Balestrieri (file photo)

SHREWSBURY, Mass. - During the previous recession, many businesses throughout the Commonwealth have had to struggle   to ensure that their doors remained open.  One of my first tasks as State Senator and as Senate Chairman of the Committee on Community Development and Small Business in 2009 was to embark on a listening tour to learn about the concerns of our local businesses and how to improve the economic climate in the Commonwealth. As I traveled throughout the state and spoke to local business owners, one concept continued to recur; the Fair Share Contribution Program was adding undue burden to some businesses making it difficult to conduct business in the Commonwealth. Understanding the important role of small businesses in our local communities, the elimination of the Fair Share Contribution Program became a top legislative priority of mine.

Since first learning of the hardships that this program had created, I have continued to speak out about the flaws in the program. As Chairman of the Committee I held an oversight hearing, offered amendments to the budget and sponsored legislation to repeal the program. It was critical to raise awareness amongst my colleagues and the Administration as many were unaware of the negative impact this program was having on businesses. Over the past four years I have worked with the Administration to find ways to make the program more equitable and to make it easier for businesses to comply. I have been a tireless advocate for businesses and the continued need to limit burdens to ensure job growth in the Commonwealth. These efforts have resulted in the Patrick Administration filing legislation to eliminate the Fair Share Program.

Enacted as part of Massachusetts’ 2006 health care reform law, the program mandates that employers with 11 or more full-time equivalent (FTE) employees must make a “fair and reasonable” contribution toward the health care costs of their employees, or pay a $295 per FTE assessment.  However, the federal Affordable Care Act has a similar provision, effective 2014, for employers with over 50 employees, which could result in a potential double-penalty for businesses of the Commonwealth.

The Fair Share Program has not affected large, multinational corporations, but small businesses in communities throughout the state. These businesses are a valuable resource for every city and town in the Commonwealth. They generate jobs, energize neighborhoods and are active participants and give back to the city or town they do business in. The elimination of this program will help relieve an unnecessary burden on our small businesses, allow for continued job growth and economic recovery, and will help our communities to rebuild.

I applaud Governor Patrick for his leadership in filing legislation to give small businesses throughout the Commonwealth the fair share that they deserve. The elimination of the Fair Share Contribution Program will further demonstrate the state’s commitment to ensuring the success of small businesses.

State Sen. Michael O. Moore represents the Second Worcester District, consisting of Auburn, Grafton, Leicester, Millbury, precincts two and four in Northbridge, precincts 2 and 4, Shrewsbury, Upton, and portions of Worcester. His district office is in Shrewsbury.

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Comments (10)

Liberal:

All of the companies are leaving because we’re in TAXACHUSETTS! We pay the highest taxes in the WORLD, and get absolutely nothing in return! It’s un-constitutional! Deval Patrick is a midget, and a socialist, and everyone is corrupt in this one party state. Obama is a Kenyan Muslim communist who wants us to become Greece! He wants to take away our guns! He wants us to default! What would the founding fathers say? What about my grandchildren? Blah, blah, blah.....We should all move to Missouri.

IamFamiliar:

"Are they? Which companies are fleeing Massachusetts? Can you be specific?"

I don't think it's so much that companies are fleeing Massachusetts as smaller companies are going out of business all together. Larger companies can absorb health care costs a lot better than a small business that was just keeping its head above water before RomneyCare.

No one ever came out and said it directly, but I'll bet Fair Share had an impact on Picadilly Pub's economic woes last year. It certainly wasn't the only thing wrong with that business, but I'd be surprised if it wasn't a contributor.

Harpoon1212:

Companies leaving. Fidelity to NH and RI. Evergreen to China than BK, PNC Bank to Minnesota. Many of the big companies may shift their employees to other business friendly locations such as State Street, EMC, Raytheon, Biogen, Genzyme to name a few.

We rank 3rd on a list of states that have lost the most jobs to China.

http://www.nbcnews.com/business/states-have-lost-most-jobs-china-1B5929263

We will see how Gov. Patrick's plan will effect the economy going forward. He is looking for revenues.

John B:

Mass is a great place to do business.
Poor people don't buy products. Rich people do.
Poor states don't have a highly educated work force to make the high tech products.
That is why bio-tech companies are here and not in Mississippi.

AladdinsLamp:

Within this socialistic health care law, if small business does not pay this burden, then the burden has to be transferred to other tax paying entities. Is that me and you?
I'm sure the folks who benefit most from this program, don't care who pays their bills.

John B:

Socialistic health care law? devised by a conservative think tank Heritage foundation and started by a Republican governor.
That is not socialist, until a democratic does it.

Harpoon1212:

I think it has finally come to their attention that the companies are fleeing MA because of all the burdens that have been piled on them. Maybe they see that they need the private sector to create jobs now that the federal money is drying up. Deval is ratcheting up the taxes and will hit us all in some way or another. As you said, someone has to pay but they are not going to pay if they lose their jobs.

grommit:

Are they? Which companies are fleeing Massachusetts? Can you be specific?

eprisby:

Good for Senator Moore. This is how government *should* work: pass legislation aimed at reducing a large problem, and don't be so partisan or ideological such that you can't revisit it in the future to make common sense changes to make the legislation more effective for all involved.

Nice work.

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