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.