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And on the 46th day we saw daylight

And on the 46th day we saw daylight

Before we dive into this morning's updates (there are lots to share), here's one announcement from us:
 
After a two-year absence, our annual Fall Business Breakfast -- our region's annual largest gathering of business and civic leaders -- is returning to the Newton Marriott on Friday, Oct. 28 from 7:30-9:30 a.m.
 
Tickets and sponsor opportunities will be available next week. Hope to see you there.
 
And on the 46th day, we saw daylight
 
Forty-six days after our Legislature split for vacation without completing a critical Economic Development Bill, leaders signaled that they’re ready to cobble together some form of the shelved bill.
 
The logjam was loosened yesterday after State Auditor Suzanne Bump certified the state does indeed have to return $2.94 billion to us taxpayers due to a record tax collections and a 1986 voter-passed law that lawmakers apparently forgot about until the folks at CommonWealth magazine reminded them about it.
 
(You know sort of the way Bill Buckner forgot how to play first base, also in 1986.)
 
What’s still not clear
 
The law stipulates the funds be credited on a “proportional basis.” That’s roughly 7% of what each of us paid in state income taxes in 2021, according to the Baker administration.
 
We still don’t know exactly how, or when, we’re going to get our $3 billion back.
 
But Gov. Charlie Baker wants us to get it while he's still in office.
 
“Given the difficulties associated with inflation, which continues to rage, we would like to get that money back to people sooner rather than later,” Baker said.
 
(And today is exactly 100 days before Christmas.)
 
While some lawmakers may play Scrooge and try and contest Baker’s quick refund plan, legislative leaders also signaled they were ready to round up the conference committee to reconsider the stalled $4 billion Economic Development Bill.
 
But we don't know what will be in that either.
 
The original unpassed bill included as much as $500 million in various housing initiatives, $200 million for small-business assistance, $75 million to help businesses run by people of color, as well as hundreds of millions for high-priority items for many businesses including unemployment insurance, funds to help hospitals and hotels, plus many local projects.
 
It also included roughly $1 billion in overdue reforms to estate taxes and permanent relief for seniors and renters.
 
And there's still lots of unspent money
 
Of course that $3 billion in taxes due back to us is just part of that mountain of excess cash our state is sitting on.
 
The last fiscal year ended in June with a nearly $5 billion surplus, up 21% from the also-robust year before.
 
Baker says the surplus can cover the credit, the Economic Development Bill, his recent supplemental bill and still leave a healthy surplus. Plus there's $2.3 billion in unallocated federal ARPA funds the state must spend by 2024.
 
So let's raise taxes, right?
 
This all comes, as Matt Stout reminds us regularly in the Globe, just as voters are being asked to approve a constitutional amendment that would raise billions more in tax revenue.
 
Ballot Question 1 would impose a 4% surtax on annual earnings above $1 million (which, by the way, wouldn't just hit big earners but, for example, pass-through businesses, sole proprietorships, S-Corps, or someone who sold their home or business).
 
If you've seen the ads, you've likely heard that the money will fund education and transportation.
 
But a new report by Tufts University’s Center for State Policy Analysis concludes that only between 30 and 70 cents on the dollar is likely to be spent in those areas, with the rest going to other expenditures, notes Christian M. Wade at the Eagle Tribune.
 
Our chamber will host a presentation about Question 1 on Oct. 12 at noon. Stay tuned for details.
 
Riverside Line shutdown beings next week
 
The MBTA’s Green Line D Branch will be shutting down at the end of next week for 27 days to allow for track upgrades and the implementation of train-collision prevention equipment, the Herald reports.
 
Shuttle buses will replace trains between Riverside and Kenmore Square. Details.
 
Fair notice
       
  • Wait, here's one more: The Needham Harvest Fair is on Oct. 2, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Green's Field.  (Your chamber presents that one.)
 
Other need to knows
 
  • The Small Business Digital Alliance will host a virtual webinar on small business financial success and tips on capital readiness, lowering costs, and accessing new markets on Tuesday (Sept. 27) at 2 p.m. Speakers include SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman. Register.
 
  • Newton-based Sawyer Realty Partners has acquired The Waterford Inn and its sister restaurant in Provincetown, the third P-town hotel bought by the firm this year. (BBJ)
 
  • Those 17 painted benches that have been placed in public spaces across Newton are now being sold in an auction with all proceeds going to support future public art initiatives. Winning bids will include moving the bench to a Newton yard, or the ground floor location of Newton home or business. Bidding opens today through Sept. 30. Details.
 
Property owners along Charles face new EPA rules
 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced plans this week to regulate stormwater into the Charles, Neponset, and Mystic Rivers watersheds.
 
The new regulations are expected to impact commercial, industrial and institutional sources – such as office parks, industrial parks, shopping centers, private colleges and universities, and hospitals – with one or more acres of impervious area (hard surfaces like parking lots, roofs, and roadways) that make it difficult for stormwater to soak into the ground.
 
Once permits are issued, property owners will be required to take steps to reduce pollutants in stormwater. 
 
No action is required while the process is being finalized.
 
Watertown to get bigger, Waltham a wee bit smaller
 
Finally, this morning, Watertown’s new City Manager George Proakis attended his first City Council meeting Tuesday.
 
So what was the first big official action the council took in the Proakis era?
 
They annexed Waltham.
 
Okay, it's a small slice. But the council at long last approved spending $100,000 towards the purchase of a 6.67-acre parcel that includes Walker’s Pond, located on the west side of the city between Waltham Street and Pleasant Street, according to the Watertown News.
 
The move was complicated by the fact that a small section of the site -- 0.47 acres -- sits in Waltham, which required approvals from both municipalities and the state.
 
Yesterday, the Senate and House approved the home rule petition that allows the Waltham purchase to proceed, according to State House News.
 
The property (seen here in the snow) was formally owned by Raytheon. It will be used for public open space and recreation space.
 
That’s Need to Knows for today unless you need to know what high-priority item is strategically situated at the very center of the Pentagon.
 
Told you I had a lot of news this week! Enjoy the weekend.
 
Greg Reibman (he, him)
President
Charles River Regional Chamber
617.244.1688
 
 
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