June/July Policy Pulse

This September will mark 66 years since residents on the South Coast have been able to take a one-seat ride from New Bedford or Fall River to Boston. However, due to the MBTA’s most recent announcement, we’ll have to wait at least one more year to catch a train to the Capitol.

On June 13th, MBTA General Manager Phil Eng traveled to public meetings in Fall River and New Bedford to announce unwelcome news to South Coast Rail hopefuls. The update included a new official start date of May 2025, the third delay in as many years. “The MBTA is deeply committed to delivering the South Coast Rail project while upholding the highest standards of quality and safety before launching passenger service,” Eng said in a press release. During the public meeting, Eng also admitted, “It became apparent that the schedule does not match what we had publicly advertised.” A sentiment that residents of the South Coast have become accustomed to over the past few decades.

Efforts and advocacy to provide access to Boston via rail have spanned over 30 years, and across 7 Gubernatorial Administrations, the South Coast should not take our foot off the gas. One SouthCoast Chamber has proudly participated in the Rail to Boston Coalition since its inception in 2014. The Coalition is comprised of leading business and community organizations in Massachusetts that are working together to re-establish the commuter rail connection to Southeastern Massachusetts. Chaired by Paul Chasse, the coalition has worked tirelessly to ensure that this project gets over the finish line in both a timely and transparent fashion.

In the Coalition’s press release responding to the announcement, we express our concern over the lack of transparency we have seen from the MBTA over the past six months. Chasse states, “We understand the safety factor and that the South Coast will begin experiencing test trains at speeds varying between 45 and 79 miles per hour for the first time in the area’s history, and that even beyond passing all of the checkpoints required by the Federal Railroad Administration in order to move forward with passenger service, the safety of all South Coast residents, passengers and rail employees are of paramount importance and this is why we expect better communication moving forward from the MBTA. As a grassroots organization representing the South Coast, we will monitor the progress of these final phases to hold the MBTA accountable to their May 2025 launch of rail service.” Chasse goes on further to say, “We also have to understand that this project was a massive undertaking by the Commonwealth, and delays in a final launch date could be expected, but according to MBTA General Manager Eng, the project is still operating within budget, and following this delay, the residents of South Coast Massachusetts will finally have passenger rail service to Boston, along with all of the economic and social impacts that the region will benefit from.”

While the delays dominated the headlines, some noteworthy developments were also released.  Four out of the six new stations are now complete, including Fall River, Freetown, Middleborough, and Church St. The New Bedford station at Whale’s Tooth is 97% finished and expected to be fully complete in July. The East Taunton station is 75% complete and expected to be finished in August.

We also learned that all six stations will be included in the MBTA’s Zone 8 pricing structure. This means that if trains ran today, a one-way fare would cost $12.25, and a round-trip fare would total $24.50. MBTA officials also confirmed that the expected travel time to South Station remains 90 minutes and that the $1.3 billion price tag remains on budget.

One SouthCoast, in partnership with the Rail to Boston Coalition, will continue to advocate on behalf of the residents and businesses of Southeastern Massachusetts. We encourage everyone to stay engaged and involved to ensure that by this time next year, we’ll be taking the train to watch another Celtics Parade!

Ian Trombly

Vice President of Public Policy


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Policy Pulse – April 2024

On March 26th, tragedy struck the City of Baltimore and all Americans when the Francis Scott Key Bridge was destroyed by a cargo ship that lost power. Despite the Key Bridge reportedly being in “Fair Condition,” this horrific tragedy is a sad reminder of the poor state of many of our roads and bridges in the United States.

Massachusetts’ bridge system is the oldest in our country, with an average age of 56. A MassDOT report shows over 450 bridges across the state are deemed “Structurally Deficient.” Some of this is, of course, due to the mature nature of our commonwealth, but the issue stands nonetheless. The South Coast is no stranger to bridge infrastructure challenges. Infrastructure challenges related to progress and investment, such as the completed construction of the Veteran’s Memorial Bridge in Somerset or the upcoming work on the New Bedford-Fairhaven Bridge, while frustrating at the time, are positive developments in our road and bridge inventory. On the other hand, infrastructure challenges caused by a lack of attention and action can devastate a community and an economy, as we have witnessed firsthand with the Washington Bridge in East Providence.

It has been over four months since the abrupt closure of the westbound lane of Interstate 195 in East Providence. This is not just a minor inconvenience. It is a significant disruption to our daily lives. On December 11th at 5:00 PM, during peak rush hour, Rhode Island officials concluded that the bridge needed to be closed due to severe structural concerns. Initially, reports were that the bridge would need to be closed for a few months due to repairs. Well, four months later, and a visit from the United States Secretary of Transportation himself, Pete Buttigieg, we learned that this scenario was far from reality. Engineers have determined that the bridge’s westbound side needs to be rebuilt entirely, an effort estimated to take a minimum of two years. This is a situation that demands immediate attention and action.

Most media outlets in Rhode Island have covered the Washington Bridge saga thoroughly. While it has made some local headlines, the impact of the Washington Bridge delays on Massachusetts residents and businesses is not receiving the attention it deserves.

The truth of the matter is the business community here on the South Coast is feeling the impact. The travel times over the Washington Bridge have skyrocketed, depending on the time of day. Employers are now facing increased staffing challenges, delivery delays, and operational inefficiencies due to transportation uncertainties.

Southeastern Massachusetts boasts several beautiful tourist attractions, including Battleship Cove and the Narrows Center for the Arts in Fall River, the Whaling Museum and the Zeiterion Performing Arts Center in New Bedford, Horseneck Beach in Westport, and much more. However, a significant boost to the local economy comes from out-of-state vacationers from New York, Connecticut, and Rhode Island en route to Cape Cod. These visitors often stop along the I-195 corridor for authentic Portuguese food, world-class seafood, to gas up their vehicles, grab a coffee, stretch their legs, and admire our robust arts and culture scene. This pass-through activity will be significantly impacted if these delays are not addressed.

As I write this, according to GoogleMaps (a GPS service provided by Google), if a driver is heading north on Interstate-95 from anywhere South of Providence with Cape Cod as their final destination, GoogleMaps is currently directing them to stay on I-95, surpass the I-195 exit east, and instead, continue north on I-95. This route will direct them to take I-495 South until they reach the Bourne Bridge. While this route is technically about eight miles longer, the driver saves significant time, avoiding the delays caused by the Washington Bridge. This reroute allows travelers heading to Cape Cod to completely circumvent Southeastern Massachusetts and its fantastic businesses and experiences.

The Rhode Island Department of Transportation is implementing a redesign of the east and westbound lanes to allow for six smaller lanes of traffic, as opposed to the current 4-lane design. There is optimism that this new design should help alleviate some congestion.

One SouthCoast is banging the drum on behalf of the business community. We are encouraged by Secretary Buttigieg’s visit, and we have meetings scheduled with the offices of Congressman Auchincloss, Congressman Keating, Senator Markey, and Senator Warren. We have met with Representatives from the Small Business Administration (SBA) and will continue to advocate on your behalf. The Small Business Administration (SBA) has declared the bridge closure an Economic Disaster, and low-interest SBA loans are available for businesses in Bristol County who qualify. For more information on these opportunities, please get in touch with Ian Trombly at itrombly@onesouthcoast.com.

Ian Trombly

Vice President of Public Policy




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No New Budget Moves As Revenue Slide Extends

State tax collections fell short of the mark again in February, extending what was already the longest streak of below-benchmark months in more than two decades, and tax revenue remains down compared to a year ago.

The run of soft collections is changing the complexion of the legislative session by forcing Gov. Maura Healey and Democrats in the Legislature to reckon with a revenue base that’s not living up to the spending appetites established in recent years. Hours before the monthly revenue report was released, the House teed up plans to pass a $260 million supplemental spending bill.


The Department of Revenue reported Tuesday that it collected $2.007 billion last month — $27 million or 1.3 percent more than actual collections in February 2023 but still $11 million or a slim 0.6 percent shy of the administration’s revised monthly benchmark of $2.018 billion. The Healey administration in January lowered the monthly benchmark for February from the $2.137 billion it originally projected for the month prior to the governor’s fiscal year 2024 revenue downgrade.


The last time tax collections came in at or above the administration’s monthly benchmark was June 2023, nine months ago. The Healey administration didn’t establish fiscal 2024 benchmarks until August last year, so there was no official expectation set for July 2023. But each month since — now seven in a row — has seen collections fall short of the administration’s projections.

That’s the longest streak of below-benchmark revenue months in more than 20 years, according to a review of DOR’s monthly collections press releases.


There were four-month stretches of below-benchmark collections from July though October of 2012 and again January through April of 2017. Collections came in below benchmark in April, May and June of 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold and tax-filing deadlines got moved, and the next six months did not have benchmarks as the state operated on interim budgets to start fiscal year 2021.


February tends to be the least significant month for state tax receipts but still produces 6 percent of the state’s annual tax revenue. “February is also the month in which refunds reach substantial levels as the tax filing season begins,” DOR said.


“February collections increased in income tax withholding and corporate and business tax in comparison to February 2023. These increases were partially offset by decreases in non-withheld income tax, and ‘all other’ tax. The increase in withholding was due, in part, to payments related to mergers and acquisition activities. The increase in corporate and business tax was due to an increase in corporate estimated and return payments,” Revenue Commissioner Geoffrey Snyder said. “The decrease in non-withheld income tax was driven by an unfavorable increase in income tax refunds. The decrease in ‘all other’ tax is mostly attributable to a decrease in estate tax, a category that tends to fluctuate, but was partially offset by an increase in division of insurance tax.”

Since fiscal year 2024 started in July, DOR has collected $23.467 billion, which is $186 million or 0.8 percent less than actual collections during the same eight-month period of fiscal 2023 and $275 million or 1.2 percent less than what the Healey administration projected in January that it would have hauled in by this point in the calendar.


In early January, Healey and her budget team hit the budget reset button, announcing plans to cut $375 million from the fiscal 2024 budget amid flagging tax collections, to downgrade the amount of tax revenue expected this budget year by $1 billion, and to build the next state spending plan on the assumption that even less tax revenue will come in next year. The plan called for the administration to seize $625 million in newly-tapped non-tax revenues to help balance this year’s budget.


The Executive Office of Administration and Finance said the administration is not planning to make additional budget moves in connection with the below-benchmark February revenue report. A spokesman said the budget office’s outlook on fiscal 2024 has not changed.


DOR is due to report revenue collections for March by Wednesday, April 3. The monthly benchmark for March, which DOR said is usually “a mid-size month for revenue collections, ranking sixth of the 12 months in eight of the last 10 years,” is set at $3.935 billion. That would be $52 million more than what was collected in March 2023.


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Guv’s Eco Dev Filing Features More Policy Plans

Afternoon Briefs: $3.5B Eco Dev Bill | FERC Nominees | Abigail Adams in Senate

Gov. Maura Healey on Friday filed her long-promised economic development bill, a $3.5 billion plan that is expected to demand the attention of House and Senate Democrats in the five months left for formal sessions this year.


The legislation incorporates $2.8 billion in bond authorizations, including $1.75 million for existing programs and $1 billion for new capital initiatives. It also recommends $750 million in tax-related programs, including incentives for the life sciences and climate tech sectors.


Healey visited Somerville for a press conference Thursday to hype aspects of her vision, including plans to reauthorize the state’s life sciences initiative at $1 billion for another decade, and launch a new $1 billion, 10-year climate tech initiative.


Healey is also proposing $100 million to fund an Applied AI Hub, $75 million for a Mass. TechHub, $25 million for a robotics investment program, and $25 million for a Business Build Capital Program to support improvements like energy efficiency.

The bill proposes $400 million for the MassWorks Infrastructure Program, $100 million for the Rural Development Fund, $100 million for the Seaport Economic Council, $99 million for flexible grants to support advanced manufacturing, $50 million for the Cultural Facilities Fund and $40 million for Destination Development Grants.


The governor also proposes an inspection and testing system for public electric vehicle charging stations in the bill, as well as changes to the home improvement contractor law to improve consumer protections and access to funds, and a pilot program geared toward diversifying the businesses that compete for public construction contracts.

The bill also includes “important policy updates,” Healey wrote in her filing letter, to increase diversity on non-profit boards, extend state and local permits to allow more time for approved projects to obtain financing, and to “reform the expedited permitting statute and the way that local priority development sites are approved.”


The legislation also calls for a new career pathway for foreign-trained physicians, and would create a statewide internship tax credit program to benefit companies that recruit interns from Massachusetts-based colleges. A pilot program, funded at $10 million per year, would offer $5,000 or 50 percent of wages paid — whichever is less — per intern, according to a policy brief.

Healey also signed executive orders to create a Cultural Policy Development Advisory Council to support and grow the arts and culture sector. She’s also established a Public Construction Projects Advisory Council, tasked with making recommendations to alleviate barriers for “small, emerging, and diverse Massachusetts businesses in public construction projects.”



Original link: https://www.statehousenews.com/news/economy/guvs-eco-dev-filing-features-more-policy-plans/article_924b2b9a-d7fd-11ee-afda-a7ccaee2daf4.html

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One SouthCoast Chamber Policy Pulse – February 2024

Two months into 2024, Beacon Hill is buzzing as many high-priority deadlines approach.

Governor Healey released her FY25 Budget, including $58.13 billion in total line-item spending, a 3.7% increase from FY24. For the past seven months, tax revenues have come in under benchmark. In February, we learned that January tax revenues came in 6.9% below collections from last January, 6.8% below the Governor’s adjusted benchmark for January 2024, and 12.8% below January’s original benchmark. With the trend we have been seeing, a 3.7% increase may still be too ambitious, although close to inflation. The state’s financial outlook for FY24 will become much clearer once April revenues have come in, as April has historically been the state’s best month for tax revenues. The House is scheduled to release its budget in April, followed by the Senate in May, with the goal of a completed and signed budget from the Governor by July.

The Legislature jumped a procedural hurdle known as Joint Rule 10 Day as they approached the final stretch of the legislative session. Joint Rule 10 requires joint committees to report on legislation no later than the First Wednesday in February during the second year of the legislative session, February 7th. The committees have a few options for each piece of legislation. The bills can either advance by receiving a “Favorable Report,” if the committee thinks they need more time, they can extend the deadline, or they can kill the bill by giving it an “Unfavorable Report” (less common) or let the bill die by sending it to “Study Order” (more common).

Joint Rule 10 does not provide much insight into what legislative priorities will get passed before the end of the session, but it is a clear indicator of what bill definitely won’t get done. For example, the “Common Start” bill (S 301/H 489), which would subsidize some early education costs and invest in teacher retention, received a “Favorable Report.” This does not mean this bill will get passed, but it cleared a significant hurdle and can stay in the race. On the other hand, a bill that would legalize teacher strikes (H 1845/ S 1217) was sent to “Study Order,” which means we won’t see any action on this bill before the July 31st deadline, and it will need to be refiled during the next legislative session if it hopes to become law.

While the next legislative session is still about nine months away, many legislators and candidates are deciding right now whether or not they should throw their hat in the political ring for elections this fall. Typically, there is very little change in the state delegation, especially here on the South Coast, but 2024 is not a typical year, with two open seats up for grabs on the South Coast, one in the Senate and one in the House.

State Senator Marc Pacheco, the longest-serving State Senator, announced he would not run for another term. Senator Pacheco was elected to the House in 1988 and became a senator in 1993, earning himself the title of “Dean of the Senate,” awarded to the longest continuously serving Senator. He currently represents the Third Bristol and Plymouth District, which includes Berkley, Carver, Dighton, Marion, Middleborough, Raynham, Rehoboth, Seekonk, Taunton, and Wareham. One South Coast owes Senator Pacheco our gratitude for his hard work, dedication, and a career committed to public service.

State Representative Paul Schmid, who serves the Eight Bristol District, also announced he would not seek reelection this fall. The Eight Bristol spans much of the South Coast and includes parts of Acushnet, Fall River, Freetown, New Bedford, and Westport. Representative Schmid is the Chair of the Joint Committee on Agriculture and has been a staunch advocate for the business community since he was elected in 2010. One SouthCoast is losing a great friend and partner on Beacon Hill, but we wish Representative Schmid all the best in his next chapter and thank him for his years of service to our community.


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Healey Budget Raises Spending By $2.1 Billion

Gov. Maura Healey discusses her fiscal 2025 budget proposal at a State House news conference Jan. 24, 2024.
Sam Doran

STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, JAN. 24, 2024…..[Coverage Developing] The second annual state budget bill from Gov. Maura Healey proposes $58.15 billion in total spending, suggesting comparably modest growth over prior years, and a bevy of cost-control maneuvers in an attempt to navigate an increasingly uncertain financial environment.

Healey’s fiscal year 2025 budget calls for about $2.07 billion or 3.7 percent more in spending compared to the fiscal 2024 budget she signed in August. A combination of expanded and new investments, including hundreds of millions of dollars for MBTA operations and low-income fares, are among the measures driving up the bottom line.

Amid a forecast for little to no tax revenue growth, Healey’s team balanced their plan by trimming $450 million from various line items, proposing to prevent about half a billion dollars in other spending growth, and deploying $1.25 billion other available state resources.

Cost controls include closure of the MCI-Concord medium security prison and changes at MassHealth, which typically reflects the largest share of the budget. The budget will propose “flat spending” for MassHealth’s personal care attendant (PCA) program, reflecting a cap on hours authorized for meal preparation and some eligibility changes related to Activities of Daily Living (ADL) support.

The bill does not propose any new tax increases to generate additional revenue, nor does it recommend tapping into the state’s more than $8 billion “rainy day” savings account.

Instead, it calls for spending more than $500 million that lawmakers had set aside for K-12 public schools and early education and care, and allowing the administration to use $375 million that would normally be stashed into the stabilization fund as part of the annual budget.

“These recommendations establish a responsible glidepath into future fiscal years, as tax revenues improve and our economy steadily grows,” officials wrote in a budget brief.

The budget would fully fund another year of the K-12 education funding law known as Student Opportunity Act in part by drawing down $300 million from an investment fund specially designed to cover the costs of the law. Beacon Hill built up that fund in past years when the state was more flush with cash, and the withdrawal would leave about $200 million for future use.

Healey’s plan would also pull $265 million from a similar early education and care affordability fund, fully depleting its balance.

Other new funding sources the budget targets include $100 million in redirected casino gaming revenue, $75 million in projected revenue from authorizing online Lottery sales, and a one-time “tax amnesty” program that officials say could generate $75 million.

Excluding the use of income surtax revenues that are specifically earmarked for education and transportation, the budget proposes about $56.1 billion in spending, an increase of 2.9 percent over last year. Administration and Finance Secretary Matthew Gorzkowicz said the non-surtax spending growth rate is about half as much as the typical increase over the past five years and is slightly less than inflation.

The administration proposes another $682 million in spending on the Medical Assistance Trust Fund and $1.3 billion in surtax spending, an increase of $300 million over the fiscal 2024 budget that marked the first use of the voter-approved revenue source.

Surtax dollars drive many of the most noteworthy spending increases in Healey’s latest plan, with about 55 percent of the stream directed toward education and 45 percent toward transportation.

Healey’s budget proposes another year of funding free school meals for all students, using $170 million in surtax revenue, and $475 million in Commonwealth Cares for Children grants to early education and care providers funded partly via the additional levy on high-earning households.

MassReconnect, the program covering unmet community college costs for certain eligible adults that the state launched last year, would get $24 million in Healey’s budget, representing a $4 million increase.

The bill proposes $127 million more in state operating assistance to the MBTA, where officials continue to sound the alarm about their own budget gaps as they work to overcome a sustained period of service and safety problems.

It would also use surtax funding to backstop $1.1 billion in new transportation-related borrowing capacity. Gorzkowicz said that move could steer $300 million in bonds to help the MBTA fix tracks and eliminate slow zones in fiscal 2025, and $800 million for other T and Department of Transportation capital projects in the next five years.

Cities and towns could be in line for another boost in local road funding, too. Healey, who on Monday filed a bill calling for $400 million in Chapter 90 funds over two years, also proposes in her budget to supplement the program with $100 million in surtax revenue.

The budget calls for increasing unrestricted general government aid to municipalities by 3 percent and Chapter 70 aid for public education by 4 percent.

While her administration continues to navigate an emergency shelter crisis, Healey will look to a separate legislative vehicle to cover unmet costs for the system.

Her annual state budget proposes level-funding the emergency assistance shelter system at $325 million in fiscal year 2025, which officials said could fund service for about 4,100 families — just a bit more than half of the 7,500-family cap the administration implemented in response to unprecedented demand. The administration has estimated in recent reports to the Legislature it will need more than $900 million annually this year and next year to cover costs.

Healey on Wednesday also plans to file a separate supplemental budget that proposes draining a savings account, known as the transitional escrow fund, to help manage the shelter crisis in fiscal years 2024 and 2025.

With an eye on the increasingly common extreme weather events that last year hammered Massachusetts residents, especially farmers, Healey’s budget calls for creating a standalone disaster relief fund. The bill does not include seed money for the fund, instead proposing to automatically deposit 10 percent of excess capital gains tax revenues each year in addition to other sources like federal grants.



Original Link: Healey Budget Raises Spending By $2.1 Billion

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Healey Resets Budget Outlook With Spending Cuts, Downgraded Forecast

Administration and Finance Secretary Matthew Gorzkowicz addresses reporters in his office’s front lobby on Monday, Jan. 8, 2024 about the administration’s mid-year emergency budget cuts. Sam Doran

STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, JAN. 8, 2024…..[Coverage Developing] Gov. Maura Healey and her budget team hit the reset button Monday, announcing a plan to cut $375 million from the current year’s budget amid flagging tax collections, to downgrade the amount of tax revenue expected this budget year by $1 billion, and to build the next state spending plan on the assumption that even less tax revenue will come in next year.

By paring back spending over the next six months, tapping into investment earnings that are generally not used in budgeting, and planning for basically flat growth next year, Healey administration officials said they think they will be able to get through fiscal year 2024 without having to make additional cuts and can then build a balanced budget for fiscal year 2025.

“We expect that while the economy’s is growing, it’ll be a bit slower. There are some positive signs — the interest rates not increasing and the prospect of them coming down later this year, I think, bodes well for what we’re seeing in terms of our growing out of this,” Secretary of Administration and Finance Matthew Gorzkowicz said Monday. “So we see this pretty much as creating a glide path to FY26. We see this as sort of a 12-to-18-month condition where we have to do some belt-tightening. But overall, we think that … we don’t see this as being a recessionary environment and we believe the economy will continue to grow in [FY] 25.”

Halfway through fiscal year 2024, the state has collected $769 million or 4.1 percent less tax revenue than the projections used to craft an annual budget featuring steep spending increases and a record bottom line of $56 billion. It’s not that tax revenue has declined — in fact, tax revenue has increased a hair compared to the same point one year ago, up $60 million or 0.3 percent — but the limited revenue growth has not been enough to line revenue up with Beacon Hill’s appetite for spending.

To address what the governor said is a “budgetary shortfall totaling $1 billion” and to reset the foundation for future budgets, the Healey administration announced a multi-pronged plan Monday.

The plan includes $1 billion worth of “solves” to close the existing gap — a net $375 million in spending cuts along with $625 million in newly-tapped non-tax revenues. The plan is meant to address the existing revenue shortfall of $769 million while also providing some breathing room for the second half of the budget year, when Gorzkowicz said he expects additional months of below-benchmark collections.

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The governor’s cuts affect 66 different line items.

Among them is a gross $294 million reduction in MassHealth fee for service payments. An administration official said there are no eligibility changes, but MassHealth had room to trim because the ongoing redetermination effort has eliminated more people from MassHealth enrollment than expected by this point and because utilization of some key MassHealth services is below what was expected.

A big portion of the non-tax revenues being relied upon to close the budget gap are expected to come from increased investment earnings that the state typically does not budget against. Gorzkowicz said the current high interest rate environment helps the state generate more interest earnings on some of its investments.

“We don’t always budget against those because interest earnings, particularly in this type of environment, are very volatile. And so we usually budget against a pretty, pretty nominal amount, a pretty conservative amount of that. And so we know that this fiscal year we’ll see increased investment earnings, and so a big portion of the 625 [million dollars] will come from those earnings,” the secretary said.

The remainder of the $625 million in non-tax revenue will come from higher-than-budgeted departmental revenues, Gorzkowicz said.

Gorzkowicz also decreased the fiscal year 2024 revenue estimate by $1 billion, from the $41.41 billion figure that he and key lawmakers agreed a year ago to build the fiscal 2024 budget on to $40.41 billion, including revenue from the state’s new surtax on income above $1 million.

And Gorzkowicz also announced Monday that he, House Ways and Means Chairman Aaron Michlewitz and Senate Ways and Means Chairman Michael Rodrigues have agreed to base the fiscal year 2025 budget — which Healey has to file with lawmakers by Jan. 24 — on a consensus revenue forecast of $40.202 billion plus an additional $1.3 billion in surtax revenue.


Original link: Healey Resets Budget Outlook with Spending Cuts, Downgraded Forecast

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One SouthCoast Chamber Policy Pulse – January 2024

As we kick off 2024, One SouthCoast Chamber is excited to announce the Public Policy Pulse. This new column aims to spotlight up-to-date policy issues at the local, state, and federal levels affecting our business community in a high-level, easy-to-understand format. Whether it’s legislative changes, ballot initiatives, or regulatory updates, the Policy Pulse is your source for staying informed and understanding the potential implications for your business. Through the Policy Pulse, our goal is to spark interest, foster dialogue, and encourage stakeholder engagement around the ever-evolving policy landscape.

For those of us who enjoy, or should I say tolerate, all things Politics, there is no doubt that 2024 will be a year we never forget.

The state legislature has returned to Beacon Hill to begin work on the second year of their two-year session. Any legislation that has aspirations of becoming law must be passed by the end of the formal session on July 31st. We can expect to see movement and debate over legislative priorities as this deadline approaches.

Budget season has officially reached the State House as Governor Maura Healey prepares her fiscal 2025 proposal. With state tax revenues missing their projected benchmark for the sixth month in a row and state spending exceeding expectations, budget leaders certainly have their hands full as they work to find a way to rein in spending and balance a state budget.

In 2024, we will be heading to the polls to cast our ballot on several issues. At the top of everyone’s mind is, of course, the presidential race. While this will prove to be a monumental race, there will be many questions on the ballots this year that may have a significant impact on your life and your businesses. This spring, most towns will hold municipal elections for local government. In the fall, in addition to electing our next president, we’ll be casting our votes for U.S. Senate, U.S. Representatives, Governor’s Council, State Senators, State Representatives, and even county office, depending on where you live. On that very same ballot, we’ll undoubtedly be faced with a slew of ballot referendums that will be put before the Massachusetts voters, some of which may include an increase in the minimum wage for tipped workers, the employment structure of app-based drivers, MCAS reform, and even the legalization of psychedelic mushrooms.

With such an exciting year ahead, One SouthCoast Chamber and our Board of Directors have prioritized enhancing our public policy efforts. With the retirement of COO and dear friend Rick Kidder, we are excited to have brought on Ian Trombly to lead our public policy efforts. Ian will be representing One SouthCoast on the Massachusetts Chamber Policy Network, a coalition made up of nine of the largest chambers in the Commonwealth who will advocate as one voice for policy that impacts the business community.  Ian will also be revamping several committees, including the Education Committee, which will be chaired by Carl Sawejko, President of Sawejko Communications, and the Government Affairs Committee, which Paul Chasse, CEO of the REALTOR® Association of Southeastern Massachusetts, will chair. We want to give special thanks to our past chairs, Nicholas Christ, Chris Howard and Julie Gagliardi, who led the Education Committee, and William Burns, who led the Government Affairs Committee, for their hard work and dedication over the years.

We look forward to working with you all throughout this busy, yet exciting year ahead. If there are any specific policy or legislative issues that you are interested in, or if you would like to be involved in any of our committees, please reach out to Ian at itrombly@onesouthcoast.com. Be well, and Happy New Year!



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Bristol County Chamber and SouthCoast Chamber Announce Branding for Combined Entity

At separate meetings held in June, the boards of directors of the Bristol County Chamber and The One SouthCoast Chamber agreed to integrate under a single corporate umbrella, effective January 1, 2020. Shortly after voting to integrate, the chambers secured a branding consultant to lead the process of choosing a new corporate name and identity. The chambers worked with New Bedford based business Moore & Isherwood, Communications, Inc. on naming the new combined chamber and local designer, Sergio Dabdoub of BadMonkeyPics, to create the logo.

The boards of directors of both The One SouthCoast Chamber and Bristol County Chamber voted to approve the new corporate entity name of “One SouthCoast Chamber”, tagline of “The Voice of Business”, and the new logo design. The new logo is a visual representation of two strong organizations coming together to form one. The nautical knot shape is also a nod to the maritime history in the communities served by the Chambers.

“This is an exciting time for the business community of the South Coast. We are one region, with a common set of goals and challenges that require we speak with one voice. This wonderful outcome signifies that we are a region on the rise.” said Rick Kidder, President and CEO of The One SouthCoast Chamber.

Mike O’Sullivan, CEO of the Bristol County Chamber said “The economy has been regionalizing for quite some time. This has presented us a great opportunity to increase our value to all of the chamber members. This includes a particular focus on small business, which is the backbone of our membership, education, government affairs and healthcare. The SouthCoast is a region that continues to advance, led by two cities that continue to grow and offer tremendous economic opportunities and quality of life to the region.”

In the coming months, the chambers will work to reflect the new branding on the website, both offices, and marketing collateral in order to prepare for the January launch of One SouthCoast Chamber. Businesses and organizations that are a member of either The One SouthCoast Chamber or Bristol County Chamber, will become a member of One SouthCoast Chamber. Members will be notified via email of changes to their member profiles including increased services and benefits.

With combined memberships of nearly 1,600 businesses, representing tens of thousands of employees in the South Coast region, One SouthCoast Chamber will become the second largest in the Commonwealth in number of member companies. One SouthCoast Chamber will serve the entire South Coast region – from Wareham to eastern Rhode Island.


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