The Grand Bargain

For many months now, negotiators have been working to negotiate a legislative alternative to three ballot questions pending for November.

  • Increased minimum wage
  • Paid family and medical leave
  • Sales tax reductions

Agreement was reached last night and we voted on it today. The final package was a compromise that was perceived as fair and necessary by most legislators.  It was approved by strong margins in both the House and the Senate.  I was pleased to vote for it.

The major highlights are as follows:

  • No sales tax rate reduction, instead an annual sales tax holiday weekend each August.
  • Minimum wage stepped up annually, rising from current $11 to $15 in 2023.
  • Paid family and medical leave program (going beyond the unpaid family leave and limited earned sick time currently available)

Regarding paid family and medical leave, it is important to understand that it looks like the unemployment insurance program.  Premiums of 0.63% of payroll will be paid to a new state fund for the purpose.  As for UI, there are limits on length of leave and amount of wage replacement to keep the program affordable.

Senator Lewis, who was the lead negotiator for the Senate, prepared this slide deck which I share here with permission.  It offers background and additional detail.  The actual final legislation appears here.

Update, June 28

Governor Baker signed this legislation today.

Published by Will Brownsberger

Will Brownsberger is State Senator from the Second Suffolk and Middlesex District.

33 replies on “The Grand Bargain”

    1. That’s a pretty fast schedule, much faster than cost of living increases.

      But it’s true that for decades the minimum wage has not kept up, so this is just catch up. It should bring us back to our previous real value peak.

  1. I believe this is a fair compromise. It takes into consideration the needs of all involved parties. The state, labor, and business all get something out of this.

  2. I am quite disappointed that it will take 4 1/2 years to get the State minimum wage to $15. Why does it have to take this long? The last increase was 1 1/2 years ago.

  3. I’m disappointed that the “sales tax holiday weekend” is in there. I find it nothing but a gimmick.

    Every year I am disappointed that the gas tax does not rise to match inflation. I’ve lived here 31 years, and I think it has risen 3 times.

    Yes, automatic increases were repealed, and some of the repeal supporters claimed they simply wanted to force the legislature to “own” each increase. (Right, many were just anti-tax.)
    I would fully support the legislature bumping it up every year, or every few years. Instead, we essentially get a gas tax cut every year.

    1. Heaven forbid politicians will lose a whole day of sales taxes. Help! The sky is falling.

    Minimum wage stepped up annually, rising from current $11 to $15 in 2023.
    McDonald’s already testing automated ordering systems (see one at Brighton Mills store).
    Next will be cashiers when customers can do everything with a card.
    Then counter people will disappear as orders are placed on conveyor belts.
    Can you say “LOST LOW LEVEL JOBS” when it becomes cheaper by machines?
    These jobs are not meant for lifetime positions. They are a place to gain reputation and experience in the work place.

  5. Not everyone is going to be happy with any compromise, but it’s a win-win for everyone. I am always pleased when the Legislature does its job and tackles difficult issues rather than leaving it to simple up or down referendum votes that so often result in the public having to vote on poorly worded legislative language.

  6. Thank you so much for this update. This seems like an appropriate compromise to me.

    Next step, I hope: A constitutional amendment allowing a graduated state income tax, with no spending riders to get it disqualified.

  7. I suppose we need the sales tax to raise money for programs.
    Sorry to see minimum wage going up so slowly but at least it’s going up.
    I’m glad there is a plan in place for family/medical leave. Whether or no it willll be adequate has yet to be proven.
    All in all th we are steps in the right direction.
    It is sad that anyone earning minimum wage (or close to it) can’t afford to live anywhere in the US cities.

  8. Overall, a good deal. Glad the tipped minimum will get closer to the 50% it traditionally was at the federal level. It will all go to taxes, but better via an hourly rate than getting hit in April.

    Holiday/Sunday pay: employers may find that staff decline shifts or call in sick, choosing family and time off with everyone else rather than work.

  9. While I don’t agree with all aspects, this seems like quite a reasonable compromise. I hope that a reasonable approach will be taken with reforming the horrible child custody situation in MA with the passage of the reasonable and good HB3090.

  10. This is a end around on the people who want lower taxes. What good would a weekend a year do?
    Higher minimum wages will cause layoffs
    of these unskilled workers. These jobs are supposed to be entry level and not a lifetime career. Get an education and advance in life

  11. Typical socialist/Democrat politics. Cardinal rule of the Mass Legislature – don’t let the public vote on ballot issues, they can’t be trusted. And if they do vote, ignore the result.

  12. The compromise bill is fair. Would that Congress would emulate the Massachusetts Legislature and just maybe we would get more meaningful legislation from DC. The Tax holiday likely does give a lift for big box item in the dregs of summer. If someone does not like it, just ignore it and don’t shop!

  13. I aldo understand that there are changes to overtime rules with this Will people be forced to work longer hours with no overtime

    1. I would like the provision that a worker can refuse overtime with no retribution.

  14. Add onto the “grand bargain” a provision the current speaker of the house not be reappointed again

  15. Thank you for this update, Will — this seems like a good package. I was wondering how this interacts with the ballot questions — will voters still be seeing these questions in Nov.? If so, would voters who like this compromise be advised to vote No on the ballot questions to avoid conflicting with this legislation?

  16. I don’t understand. Is this a done deal? I work for a department that does a summer jobs program for 14-21 year-olds. If this ends up happening without provisions for programs like ours, which tries to also teach good financial practices, resume writing, job responsibility and other job-life lessons, then our program will disappear, along with my department and all our jobs. We cannot afford to pay 14 year-olds $15 an hour, and certainly not with all the cuts in federal and state grants. Maybe this action helps people needing to support themselves and their families but it will destroy other jobs programs.

      1. If this goes through then yes, hundreds of jobs for our kids and our staff, including me, will be wiped out. This appears to be a 35% increase in wages by the end; I can’t see us getting a 35% increase in grants.

  17. I would like to have seen the public get to vote on these issues. I think it would be more “fair” than to let special interests have their way.

  18. Minimum wages kill jobs for low wage workers. More will never find a job than those who benefit from a small bump in salary.

    If the minimum wage is so good, why wait 5 years to fully implement it? And, why not $20 or $30 per hour? Answer: So politicians won’t be blamed for the reduced economy which would be immediately visible.

    The new payroll tax will also lower wages. Keep playing games and watch the MA ecocnomy slow down.

  19. As a Raise Up/Ma Summer fellow who has been collecting signatures for these questions since last Fall I am disappointed with the compromise on the minimum wage. 2023 is a long time off for struggling families. After hitting $15 in 2022, the ballot question would also make further minimum wage increases go up automatically based on inflation and the needs of families and not the needs of state politicians. When we vote on Tuesday on whether to submit our petitions to put the question on the ballot I will vote that we proceed to the ballot.

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