Friday, April 24, 2009

Budget Season Round Four: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Since the economic downturn began, millions of Americans have lost their jobs. Last month in Massachusetts alone, employers slashed more than 20,000 jobs. That statistic is daunting and yet a Democrat on Beacon Hill has filed an amendment that would lead to the loss of even more jobs in the struggling manufacturing industry. Representative Peter Kocot of Northampton has proposed removing the single sales tax factor apportionment for manufacturing companies like Raytheon. Currently, Raytheon among others, receive a certain set of tax incentives to help bring new business and keep old ones here in the Commonwealth. While small businesses are certainly a driving force behind Massachusetts’ economy, big manufacturing corporations bring a lot of jobs in to the state in one fell swoop. If the state fails to keep these vital tax incentives for manufacturers, we will lose major industries to nearby states that are willing to grant economic stimulators to large employers.

Massachusetts has been praised for pioneering a universal health care program. While it is important that every citizen has access to affordable health care, there are many areas for improvement in the state’s program that could save the Commonwealth millions of dollars every year. Today, 24% of MassHealth members are in the fee-for-service system, whereas 27% are in PCC (Primary Care Clinician) plans. Moving all of MassHealth members would save Massachusetts between $690 million and $1.05 billion over the next five years and would also result in better medical care for MassHealth members. Fifteen states have already ended their PCC program in order to have MCO plans and we hope making Massachusetts the sixteenth will lead to great cost savings while improving health care for thousands of Bay State residents.

Be sure to stay with all week as budget debate gets underway first thing on Monday. We'll have updates throughout the day on Monday as the House takes up dozens of tax and revenue proposals. You can also watch your Republican lawmakers debate on the House floor live right here.