Massachusetts Unemployment Stays at 7.6% in June
Unemployment in the state stayed constant at 7.6% last month, according to a Patrick Administration jobs report. Although the state added 10,400 jobs, the unemployment rate did not change and has stayed below 8% for the last three months. This is the first time since 2009 that the rate has been below the 8% benchmark level for more than a month in a row. Currently the Commonwealth’s unemployment rate is 1.6% below the national rate of 9.2%.
Tax Collection Figures For First Half of July Up 13.8%
This week the Massachusetts Department of Revenue released the tax collection figures for the first half of July. Tax revenues for this period were $68 million above state budget benchmarks. According to Navjeet Bal, the state revenue commissioner, the gains were due to increased withholding and estate tax collections. Tax collections from the previous few months have also exceeded budget benchmarks, leaving a state budget surplus, something taken into consideration during drafting of the final FY2011 budget.
Revenue Surplus Expected for FY2012, Could Trigger Income Tax Reduction
At the close of FY2011, state tax collections rose almost $2 billion compared to FY2010. Because of the 10.6% rise in revenue, state coffers will begin to show a revenue surplus, barring any sudden or unexpected tax collection deficit. According to Senate President Therese Murray (D – Plymouth), the strong tax collections could trigger a reduction in the state’s income tax, from 5.3% to 5.25%. Under state law, the income tax that the Commonwealth collects would fall to 5.25% if two conditions are met: more than 2.5% growth in FY2011 inflation-adjusted baseline revenues over FY2010 revenues as well as three consecutive months of positive revenue growth compared to the same period one year earlier. President Murray said she would know more about the likelihood of the tax cut by October of this year.
Near Term Legislative Agenda Clearer
With the passage of the FY2011 budget and House Speaker DeLeo’s (D – Winthrop) announcement last week that legislative debate on gambling will begin in September, the near-term legislative agenda is becoming clearer. The Legislative Committee on Redistricting is currently holding public hearings to determine how new districts will be drawn. Hearings will continue through the end of this month, with a first draft of the redrawn districts expected to be released in the fall. Gambling debate as well as redistricting are expected to take up much of the legislature’s agenda for September, October and November.
John Nunnari, Assoc AIA
Executive Director, AIA MA
MA Chapter of American Institute of Architects
The Architects Building
52 Broad Street, Boston MA 02109-4301