The 5th Barnstable District reflects these same characteristics and its business community is a roster comprised, almost exclusively, of small businesses.
Our focus, as a state legislature, must be on the small business owner. Nationwide, approximately 70 percent of all jobs are created by small businesses; on Cape Cod, that figure is even higher.
Rather than repeat the platitudes and talking points that voters seemingly have become immune to, I have compiled a list of specific items that can be embraced and acted on by your state government to improve the overall business climate and expand opportunities for businesses of all sizes across the commonwealth.
These actionable items fall into three categories:
- Adopt a 50-employee exclusion (currently ten) for determining which small businesses must offer health insurance. This is consistent with the new federal Affordable Care Act and would allow small businesses to grow beyond ten employees without triggering a huge expense for mandated insurance.
- Abandon the "creditable coverage" standard, which mandates that everyone carry a blue ribbon, bells and whistles policy. We have to wake up to the fact that not everyone can afford the same insurance plan enjoyed by our legislators.
- Implement other measures to reduce the cost of insurance, such as tort reform, standardized electronic medical records, and interstate competition between insurers (a federal issue), to name a few.
- Allow small businesses to band together to purchase health insurance policies as a group. This is a provision that was included in the Small Business Health Care Cost Relief Bill passed in the most recent legislative session. Unfortunately, that bill also included measures to increase government control in this market which, in the end, will drive away competition and increase costs.
- Roll back sales, meals and personal income tax to 5 percent. Our state government's insatiable appetite for spending resulted in $2 billion of new taxes during the most severe economic recession in decades. That ignores the fact that it leaves less spendable income in the pockets of consumers, who are the life blood of small businesses.
- Reduce corporate income tax to 5 percent. At 9.5 percent, Massachusetts is among the highest taxing states in the country; yet another reason for large businesses to not come here or to relocate elsewhere. These large businesses generate big demand for goods and services from our small business community.
- Reduce the short-term capital gains tax rate from 12 percent to 5 percent. As a CPA, I'm always cautioning my small business owners about the state's taxation of capital gains. This puts the brakes on entrepreneurs who would otherwise expand more quickly.
- Open public construction projects to all bidders, not just union shops. The governor claims that PLAs (project labor agreements) account for relatively few of the total contracts awarded by the state. What he doesn't say is that those "few" are the largest projects, accounting for the lion's share of project dollars spent.
- Repeal the Pacheco Law, which bars privatization of state services. Small businesses could certainly benefit if allowed to bid on such things as vehicle fleet maintenance, building management and maintenance, and state park maintenance.
- STOP CHANGING THE RULES (at least changes that make things worse.) The unpredictability of what our legislators have in store for businesses from year to year makes Massachusetts a poor choice for new and expanding businesses.