AUBURN, Mass. – There have been recent improvements in the economy at the state and local levels, but there is still plenty of work to do, local state representatives said at Wednesday’s Auburn Chamber of Commerce breakfast,.
State Sen. Michael Moore (D-Millbury) and state Rep. Paul Frost (R-Auburn) gave a post-election update at the chamber’s networking event at the Auburn/Webster Lodge of Elks, as they discussed the state of the economy, jobs and local business. Auburn Town Manager Julie Jacobson also gave an optimistic town update at the breakfast.
Moore, who was re-elected to a third term in the 2nd Worcester District last week, highlighted a piece of legislation that he co-sponsored last session in the state Senate, which he said will benefit local businesses. The fair-share contribution legislation eliminates fines for businesses that do not provide insurance for employees already covered under another plan.
“Before, businesses were fined $295 per year per employee in these cases, but by fixing this loophole, it will hopefully free up a lot of resources that will help people get back to work,” Moore said.
The Millbury Democrat also said the state’s bond rating is one of the best in the country, and Massachusetts now has one of the top rainy-day funds in the country, which is $1.6 billion. In addition, Moore said it looks like there will be a further reduction in the state income tax in 2013.
“Based on the surplus we had in the last fiscal year, it looks like on Jan. 1 that we will have another reduction from the 5.25 to 5.20 percent,” he said.
While there have been positive movements on Beacon Hill, Frost said the state has plenty of challenges ahead. Frost, who has been a state representative for 16 years and ran unopposed in the Nov. 6 election, said unemployment is starting to creep back up in Massachusetts, which “we have to pay attention to.”
“We have to be more aggressive in helping our small businesses grow here in Massachusetts, to encourage jobs here in Massachusetts,” Frost said.
Earlier this year, Frost said that he and Republican House colleagues put together a jobs bill that dealt with reducing business regulation and addressing health-care costs. Frost said he hopes that the jobs bill has more success in the upcoming session.
“There is a lot that has to be done,” Frost said. “The challenges are not any easier. They’re going to be more difficult, and we’re going to have to work together.
“The key to that is getting small businesses up-and-running and hiring, and that has to be the priority of our state and federal governments, and it’s certainly my priority,” Frost added.