Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Massachusetts businesses feeling the post-election blues?

The Associated Press reports that Massachusetts employers have announced a wave of layoffs in the one week since Deval Patrick was re-elected Governor.

Could there be any doubt why? AIM reported before the election that business confidence was up, partly on the assumption that pro-tax-cutting candidates would be elected to the U.S. House in November. Could it be that Massachusetts businesses have the post-election blues after seeing Mass. Democrats prevail again?

One of Patrick's first initiatives when he took office was to raise corporate taxes by hundreds of millions of dollars. And, he capped off his first term by signing into law a crushing 25% increase in the state sales tax. Do we expect anything to really change in a second term, especially with the prospect of a multi-billion dollar state budget deficit next year?

It's disappointing to see tax policies sting some of our state's largest employers. But, small businesses are feeling the pinch too, even though it doesn't always make headlines. We see it every day as we talk to fellow small business owners struggling to deal with the rising cost of health care and tax increases.

These are the people who know on a deeply personal level what it's like to meet a bottom line and keep their people employed. These are the people who actually write the checks for health insurance, rent and federal and state taxes. They know first-hand how Massachusetts' economic policies rob businesses of any incentive to grow.

Small business owners are good citizens. By their very nature, they want to create jobs and be a thriving part of the state's economy. And, they're more than willing to pay their fair share for services they use. The problem is that, in Massachusetts, the government takes advantage of them. In the Bay State, growing your business means having to pay substantially bigger tax bills and deal with much higher costs of doing business. At the end of the day, it's often a wash, and small business owners simply can't get ahead - or even survive.

If we expect to retain and grow jobs here, our political leaders need to understand that small businesses need room to breathe, and that raising taxes is not the answer every time they try to spend money and state coffers come up short.

As a state, we rely on the entrepreneurial spirit of small business owners to keep our economy going. Yet, we do little as a state to encourage that spirit and allow it to prosper.

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