Boston (January 28, 2014) – Governor Patrick’s final State of the State Address was a rousing celebration of his two terms but at important moments it missed its mark, said the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) tonight.
“Small business owners will be very encouraged that the Governor urged lawmakers to finally reform the state’s unemployment insurance system,” said NFIB Massachusetts State Director Bill Vernon. “Our unemployment insurance payroll tax ix among the highest in the country and it acts as a direct penalty on small businesses that hire new workers. The Governor made reforming that system a key feature of his address and that’s very positive.”
Patrick strayed off key, however, when he urged lawmakers to raise the minimum wage, said Vernon.
“At one point he urged businesses to hire someone for the common good. And in the next sentence he urged lawmakers to raise the minimum wage arbitrarily without regard to whether small businesses can afford higher labor costs. That was a discordant.”
A measure currently being debated in the Legislature would raise the minimum wage to $11 per hour by 2015, an increase of 37.5 percent, and an automatic increase every year thereafter based on inflation. That, said Vernon, would destroy small businesses that compete with businesses in neighboring states and lead to even higher unemployment among younger, minority, and less experienced workers.
“There’s not a small business anywhere in Massachusetts that can count on a 37.5 percent increase in sales over the next two years and an increase every year into the future,” said Vernon. “That would leave us in a very weak position with competitors in other states, including the rest of New England.
“Small business owners who were listening to that portion of the speech probably felt like the Governor was talking past them,” he continued.
Mr. Vernon will be available be available for comment on the Governor’s Address. To arrange an interview, please contact him directly or contact Sr. Regional Media Manager Jack Mozloom at 609-462-5610 or firstname.lastname@example.org.