A new statewide poll of Massachusetts business owners found widespread support for federal coronavirus pandemic tax breaks and Governor Charlie Baker’s decision to reopen the state earlier than originally planned.
The Boston-based Fiscal Alliance Foundation commissioned polling firm Advantage, Inc. to survey 374 registered business owners on May 25-26 to find out what they think should be done to help the state’s economy grow again.
The poll found overwhelming support for the governor’s decision to fully reopen the state in time for Memorial Day weekend, with four out of five business owners supporting the move from the first reopening date on Aug. 1, the Fiscal Alliance Foundation said.
“The survey confirms what many of us know intuitively,” said foundation spokesman Paul D. Craney. “Those hardest hit by the shutdown are most eager to get back into normal gear and avoid losing a second early summer season.”
Manufacturing, healthcare, real estate and construction, and retail companies are the biggest pro-reopening sectors, the foundation said, while banking and finance are the least eager.
The survey also asked business owners about the state pandemic aid that Massachusetts is said to receive is best to spend. Several entrepreneurs agreed that these funds should best be used for tax breaks. The second most popular choice was a link between using the re-entry bonus funds to lift people out of unemployment and using those funds to replenish the unemployment trust fund.
The Baker administration recently announced a “dramatic, unexpected” fee, which Craney called, to replenish the fund after it was drawn down by the pandemic. All Massachusetts companies, including those that did not lay off workers during the pandemic, will be asked to pay this fee over the next 20 years, he said.
“The fact that an obscure fee paid to the Unemployment Benefit Trust Fund is ranked second top priority in surveys shows you that business owners are really nervous on the matter,” said Craney. “Legislators and the governor should understand that companies really want to address this issue and want federal pandemic funds to be used to pay off these unfair debts they have to pay due to the governor’s shutdown orders.”
The governor’s office was not immediately available for comment.
The survey also found that around 75% of the companies surveyed are “much” or “more” likely to support a small business candidate in the 2022 governor’s race, and jobs and taxes are by far the top issues.
“Unless Governor Charlie Baker is running for a third term,” said Craney, “it would be wise for the next governor and candidates running in 2022 to know that what the business community has in common is their desire to be the next governor hugging. “A business-friendly agenda.”