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New Reports Show Fair Share Amendment Will Help Small Businesses, Other Progressive Tax Changes Can Too

For Immediate Release: November 17, 2021 BOSTON, MA –  Our Commonwealth has traditionally celebrated small businesses as a way for everyday working people to build …

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A False Sense of Housing Security

Maria has been living in fear. Her landlord has been rapping on her door, harassing her and her children for the rent. But, since both …

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Mass. Public Higher Education and the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF)

What’s the state of public higher education in the Commonwealth? Learn more in our latest presentation outlining federal pandemic relief below:

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Mount Greylock Subcommittee Discusses Bus Contract Adjustment During Prolonged Closure

“The required local contribution is basically a measure of how much local tax revenue a city or town can reasonably raise and dedicate to the operation of its schools,” according to the website of the non-profit Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center. It is related to the foundation budget, which “is designed to represent the total cost of providing an adequate education for all students.”

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STATEHOUSE ROUNDUP: Life, liberty and the pursuit of ventilators

The tea leaves, when they can read them, will likely present a bleak picture – the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center's testimony contemplates a scenario where fiscal 2021 tax collections land $5 billion short of the estimates agreed to in January.

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STATEHOUSE ROUNDUP: Life, liberty and the pursuit of ventilators

The tea leaves, when they can read them, will likely present a bleak picture – the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center's testimony contemplates a scenario where fiscal 2021 tax collections land $5 billion short of the estimates agreed to in January.

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“Sobering” Estimates Mean Budgeting With Billions Less

Despite the forecasts, or perhaps because of them, Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center President Marie-Frances Rivera told lawmakers and the administration it was “not the time to switch to austerity mode.” She urged them to close tax loopholes, use the state’s $3.5 billion “rainy day” fund and tap federal aid to preserve spending on critical human services.

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Massachusetts Lawmakers Warn Of Possible Depression

Marie-Frances Rivera, president of MassBudget, said her think tank is estimating state tax collections could fall $5.0 billion to $5.7 billion in the current fiscal year, which ends June 30. The analysis is based on the two prior recessions, in which state tax collections were 16.1 percent and 13.8 percent below projections.

“These are large numbers. And while I stress again that we are not saying this pattern necessarily will occur again now, we are noting that such declines are by no means out of the question,” Rivera said in prepared testimony. “Such sharp and persistent declines in tax collections have occurred in each of the last two recessions and very well could again.”

Rivera also noted estimates that nearly 500,000 Massachusetts workers will be laid off or furloughed by July. That equates to a 14 percent drop in employment in just five months. By comparison, during the worst five-month stretch of the Great Recession, employment declined by 78,000, or 2.4 percent.

“This is not a drill. This is a stormy time,” Rivera said. “We are in an unprecedented moment – a public health crisis that has catapulted us into an economic crisis.”

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Coronavirus leaves economists uncertain: 8 takes on COVID-19’s final toll on Massachusetts

The state will need to tap into its rainy day fund and should also reconsider some tax breaks and work to ensure it receives as much federal relief money as possible, Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center President Marie-Frances Rivera said.

The economic ramifications of the pandemic have left many people out of work and struggling to afford housing and other basic needs, Rivera said. She said the state must make sure it continues to fund key services and that systems people rely on — like transit, education and unemployment insurance — remain operational.

"Now is not the time to switch into austerity mode, so we have to utilize all the tools that we have in our toolbox," Rivera said.

If patterns from past recessions hold, Rivera said, fiscal 2020 tax collections would fall somewhere between $4.2 billion and $4.9 billion below fiscal 2019 collections, and, with limited growth, collections in fiscal 2021 could land between $5 billion and $5.7 billion shy of the estimates budget writers agreed to in January.

Rivera said state officials should identify ways to limit near-term tax losses “so we can invest in people now and into the future.” MassBudget’s written testimony said the “best, first option” for doing so would be “to delay, down-size or eliminate several of the largest and most wasteful tax breaks and tax loopholes in our state tax code.”

Specific tax policies Rivera flagged for reconsideration included the film tax credit, the “single sales factor tax break,” and a not-yet-implemented new state charitable deduction.

She thanked budget writers for building up the state’s rainy day fund in recent years. “Our recommendation would be — it’s pouring,” Rivera said. “We need to use it to make sure we have vital services covered. These dollars must be accessed.”

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Testimony to the Economic Roundtable: We must ensure collective well-being and economic security in the Commonwealth

Read the full testimony from our President, Marie-Frances Rivera, for the Massachusetts Legislature’s April Virtual Economic Roundtable, originally scheduled for April 7, 2020.

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Sunday Notebook

The tea leaves, when they can read them, will likely present a bleak picture – the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center’s testimony contemplates a scenario where fiscal 2021 tax collections land $5 billion short of the estimates agreed to in January.

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Tech Issues Derail Massachusetts State Budget Roundtable

The public projections so far are bleak. Annual revenue shortfalls could stretch to $5 billion or $6 billion, the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center estimated.

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Technology woes derail state house roundtable on budget impact of coronavirus

The public projections so far are bleak. Annual revenue shortfalls could stretch to $5 billion or $6 billion, the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center estimated.

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Massachusetts coronavirus relief fund launches with over $13 million

A record-setting 330,000 people in Massachusetts filed for unemployment during the final two weeks of March as the coronavirus pandemic escalated, according to federal statistics, signaling that many businesses have boarded up. The tax revenue hit is likely to fall somewhere between $5 billion and $6 billion dollars, according to the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center and the governor said the ripple effects would play out in state budgets over at least the next two years.

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The $2 Trillion Federal Stimulus Plan Will Help Massachusetts, But Lawmakers Say It’s Only A Start.

“It’s a good starting point to help the American people right now, and to help the people of Massachusetts,” said Marie-Frances Rivera, president of the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center.

“The child care system in Massachusetts is already fragile, and we’re going to need support to make sure it’s shored up and that kids are supported when we all step out of this quarantine,” she said.

While the spending plan offers cash payments and extends jobless benefits, Rivera says it will only begin to address a huge unemployment challenge in the state. She estimates that about 16% of Massachusetts residents have already lost their jobs.

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Unemployment Insurance 101

What’s Unemployment Insurance? The Unemployment Insurance (UI) system is a state-federal partnership to provide cash assistance to people who may lose their job or can’t …

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Congress Urged to Act as Pandemic Losses Threaten Transit Agencies

Phineas Baxandall, a Senior Analyst at the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center and occasional StreetsblogMASS contributor, notes that with ridership and traffic congestion down, “urgency for transportation spending is absent right now.”

But he warns that demand for transit services are likely to surge as soon as the pandemic and its required “social distancing” begin to ebb.

“If economists are correct that this is the beginning of a potentially deep recession, it will be important to make sure that transit agencies weather this – to make sure that people are able to travel to find new jobs. Infrastructure can be a stimulus to restart the economy,” says Baxandall.

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Call on Congress to Support Public Transit Before Bailing Out Private Industries

MilNeil spoke to Phineas Baxandall, a Senior Analyst at the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center and occasional StreetsblogMASS contributor. With ridership down and traffic congestion nonexistent, he says, “urgency for transportation spending is absent right now.”

But he warns that demand for transit services are likely to surge as soon as the pandemic and its required "social distancing" begin to ebb.

"If economists are correct that this is the beginning of a potentially deep recession, it will be important to make sure that transit agencies weather this – to make sure that people are able to travel to find new jobs. Infrastructure can be a stimulus to restart the economy," says Baxandall.

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