After months of debate, Massachusetts lawmakers came to an agreement on a bill that would provide a legislative solution for several issues that would otherwise have gone straight to voters as ballot questions. The questions may have been kept off the ballot, but small businesses aren’t getting such a grand bargain in return.
Here’s what’s included in the measure (House Bill 4640):
- Minimum wage increase, starting at $12 per hour in 2019 and ending at $15 per hour in 2023
- Tipped wage increase, starting at $4.35 per hour in 2019 and ending at $6.75 per hour in 2023
- Repeal of premium pay requirements for all employees, phased out from 2019 to 2023
- No change to sales tax
- Annual sales tax holiday in August
- The costliest paid family and medical leave benefits in the U.S.
NFIB/MA fought hard for concessions for small businesses and was successful in removing the income tax surcharge question from the ballot, making sure the minimum wage is not indexed to inflation, reducing the tipped wage increase, securing the repeal of the premium Sunday/holiday pay, getting a sales tax holiday, and reducing the paid family leave burden. (Visit https://www.nfib.com/content/news/massachusetts/the-so-called-grand-bargain-on-ballot-initiatives/ to read more about the bill and how it got to this point.) However, the end result is still a costly bill for small business owners.
The Boston Globe reported NFIB/MA State Director Chris Carlozzi’s comments: “Small business owners definitely feel like they are under siege. It’s inhibiting their ability to expand their businesses; it’s really impacting their ability to create new jobs.”