Keller @ Large: President of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts Part 2

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WELCOME BACK TO OUR CONVERSATION WITH JOHN HURST, PRESIDENT OF THE RETAILERS ASSOCIATION OF MASSACHUSETTS. OUR EAGERNESS TO PUT TOGETHER THE SO-CALLED GRAND BARGAIN AND GET THESE BALLOT QUESTIONS DROPPED, THEY DON’T LIKE ON BEACON HILL POLICYMAKING THROUGH BALLOT INITIATIVES. THEY ARE NOT THE ONLY ONES. CALIFORNIA HAS GRAPPLED WITH THAT. IT HAS BEEN AN ONGOING ISSUE OVER THE YEARS. OBVIOUSLY, YOU HAD SOME REAL LEVERAGE WITH YOUR SALES TAX CUT QUESTION. DO YOU SEE YOUR ORGANIZATION RETURNING TO THAT TOOL IN THE FUTURE I THINK WE WILL HAVE TO UNLESS THE LEFT LEANING ORGANIZATIONS, PUBLIC AND HEALTHCARE UNIONS, WALK AWAY FROM IT. OR THE BEACON HILL LEADERSHIP SAYS, YOU GUYS ASKED FOR LOT, WHETHER IT IS THROUGH REGULATION OR CONTRACTS, GET OFF OF THIS BALLOT INITIATIVE AGENDA. UNLESS ONE OF THOSE TWO THINGS HAPPENS, I THINK THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY WILL HAVE TO GO FORWARD LIKE WE DID WITH THE SALES TAX AND HAVE SOME LEVERAGE, SOMETHING THAT THE LEFT WILL NOT LIKE, SOMETHING THAT PROTECTS THE TAXPAYER AND GET THESE GUYS THINKING A LITTLE BIT, MAYBE WE NEED TO BARGAIN. Reporter: LIKE WHAT? IF IT IS NOT A TAX CUT, MAYBE IT IS SOMETHING TO STEP BACK ON TAX EXPENDITURES. THERE IS A $41 BILLION STATE BUDGET. THERE IS A — AND EXPLODING MASS HEALTH BUDGET. MAYBE WE NEED TO REFORM AND PROTECT THE TAXPAYER IN SOME AREAS. Reporter: NOT TO BE A GLOOMY GUS, BUT HASN’T THAT HORSE LEFT THE BARN IN TERMS OF THE STATE BUDGET? IT CONTINUES TO GROW IN EXCESS OF THE RATE OF INFLATION. IT IS A RESULT OF DEMAND FOR SERVICES AND OTHER FIXED COSTS, INFRASTRUCTURE REQUIREMENTS AND THE LIKE. AT THE SAME TIME, YOU HAVE A REPUBLICAN GOVERNOR OPPOSING BROAD-BASED NEW TAXES AND A DEMOCRATIC HOUSE SPEAKER. HOW MUCH ROSIER COULD BE ENVIRONMENT BE FOR YOU FOLKS? WE ARE LOSING A LOT OF. THESE COSTS, WHEN YOU HAVE THE HIGHEST PAYROLL COST IN THE NATION, THE HIGHEST ENERGY COST, HIGHEST SMALL BUSINESS HEALTHCARE COSTS, THIS IS NOT ROSY AT ALL. THE ECONOMY IS GOOD, YET WE ALL KNOW ECONOMIC CYCLES CHANGE. WHEN THE ECONOMIC CYCLE STARTS DROPPING AND THESE COSTS CONTINUE TO DRIVE — RISE HIGHER THAN THE RATE OF INFLATION, WE HAVE A PROBLEM ON MAIN STREET. Reporter: WE HAVE LESS THAN ONE MINUTE. LET’S CLOSE ON THIS. AS YOU LOOK AHEAD OVER THE NEXT COUPLE OF YEARS, ON BEHALF OF RETAILERS ACROSS THE STATE, WHAT’S THE SINGLE BIGGEST UNEXPLODED BOMB, THE SINGERS — SINGLE TEST CONCERN. IT IS PAYROLL COST. PAYROLL COST FOR A BRICK-AND- MORTAR STORE ON MAIN STREET VERSUS THEIR COMPETITION ONLINE. WHAT WE DON’T FULLY GRASP HIS A LOT OF THE STATE INITIATIVES AND REQUIREMENTS PASSED BY STATE LAWMAKERS, THEY AFFECT THE LOCAL BRICK-AND-MORTAR STORE OR OTHER TYPE OF SMALL BUSINESS, BUT THEY EXEMPT THESE ONLINE COMPETITORS. WE HAVE TO START REALIZING THAT AND STOP PUTTING OUR LOCAL BUSINESSES AT A DISADVANTAGE. FOR MAC EVEN PUSHING FOR A LEVEL — Reporter: YOU HAVE BEEN PUSHING FOR A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD FOR A LONG TIME. WE GOT TWO DAYS OF THE SALES TAX HOLIDAY.

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