^ Governor Charlie Baker : bread and butter reform in sometimes surprising directions

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Two recent developments in state funding, both of them Governor baker initiatives, have resulted in an FY 2018 State Budget that is expanding despite the substantial revenue shortfall revealed a couple of months ago.

The first development is Governor Baker’s ongoing program of grant awards to various industries pursuant to his Workforce Development initiative that began almost the day he first took office. As the link I’m attaching makes clear, Baker’s grants come frequently and are hardly ungenerous : http://www.masslifesciences.com/news/announcements/

Baker has also delivered substantial funds to the development of workforce-priced housing. In a Budget that has included no new taxes or fees, and that has a revenue shortfall, where is this money co0ming from ?

This may well arise from Baker’s careful analysis of the State’s Budget; there is, however, nothing careful about Baker’s really ambitious new move : assessing $ 180million in fees to businesses that do not offer their employees health insurance. It’s not precisely anew tax, but it is a new levy, and it comes with full support by the House, and thus that of Speaker DeLeo : http://news.wgbh.org/2017/04/10/politics-government/mass-house-budget-enables-gov-baker-pursue-employer-assessments

Baker originally proposed an even larger assessment : $ 300 million; but the House felt that the smaller levy would do. So far, so good. What’s truly interesting Is to see Baker, who has the label “Republican” attached to him, moving in a direction one would never expect from the term “Republican” today.

I have often wondered what would happen when the “no new taxes or fees” Baker of 2014-16 met the “we need new revenue” reality of 2017. One need wonder no longer. Baker has made his choice : to seek new funds for a purpose that cannot be quarreled with : we badly need to pay our rapidly rising health care costs, especially in light of potential hurt if the Congress ends up enacting its controversial, undermining health care venture. Baker has now signed onto doing so. It is, in fact, his top priority.

Baker recently told a gathering of his activists that “there’s no partisanship in our program going forward.” He said it with pride, and it was and is true.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here andm Sphere


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