Editorial: Stop killing the Massachusetts economy, governor

Gov. Maura Healey and the state Legislature need to stop everything they’re doing and focus on the dismal business tax climate in Massachusetts today!

Business is the backbone of our democracy, and neglecting the engine that drives our freedom is irresponsible. Every warning light is blinking, governor, so erase your calendar, roll up your sleeves, and get out your toolbox.

The Tax Foundation ranks Massachusetts as the 5th worst state in its Business Tax Climate Index. New Jersey, New York, California, and Connecticut rank lower — but New Hampshire is in the Top 10. That alone should worry Gov. Healey. Last time when drove north it was a quick trip.

The sad part is Healey doesn’t seem to care. Neither does Speaker Ron Mariano and state Senate President Karen Spilka. Our Democratic-run government is more adept at knocking down entrepreneurs than helping them out.

This Tax Foundation report — showing the Bay State dropping 12 spots in just the past year — should be a wake-up call. Businesses and citizens vote with their feet, and we risk losing both if the status quo remains.

A driver behind the state’s nosedive in tax competitiveness, the Tax Foundation found, is the state’s new Fair Share Amendment – or Millionaire’s Tax – which taxes incomes over $1 million an extra 4%.

“While the $1 million threshold at which the surtax kicks in is indexed to inflation, the surtax imposes a sizable marriage penalty that the Commonwealth lacked previously,” authors wrote in the report which came out last week. “This policy change represents a stark contrast from the recent reforms to reduce rates while consolidating brackets in many other states.”

Paul Craney, a spokesman for Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance and a staunch opponent of the Millionaire’s Tax, called out proponents who pledged that the surtax would strictly apply to individuals with an income of over $1 million.

“With a flip of a switch, the Legislature lowered that threshold to $500,000 for married people and the Tax Foundation is predicting a clear negative outcome from this,” Craney added.

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Why should you care?

Jon Hurst, president of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts, told the Herald this weekend that people and businesses alike are continuing to leave Massachusetts due to taxation.

His organization represents 4,000 businesses in the state so it’s not wise to ignore his comment.

The Tax Foundation also called out a payroll tax that went into effect this year in Massachusetts’ poor ranking. The organization also found that the state dropped 33 spots from the 11th-best state for individual taxes to the sixth-worst.

Hurst said high unemployment and health insurance costs, both of which are the worst in the nation, according to the Tax Foundation, need to be fixed.

The Healey administration and Beacon Hill lawmakers can not be allowed to go unchallenged. It’s embarrassing to be near last on any list. It’s unacceptable and reflects how out of touch our lawmakers have become.

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