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New unemployment claims continue to slow in Massachusetts

SouthCoast Today, by Chris Lisinski, State House News Service

In a Wednesday analysis, the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center warned that the state’s economic recovery could suffer if federal lawmakers do not extend the PUA program, which runs through the end of 2020, or if policy granting a bonus $600 per week to all benefit recipients is allowed to expire at the end of July.

“Bold federal policies to strengthen unemployment insurance have been a crucial source of funds for many workers whose income has been interrupted,” Phineas Baxandall, a senior analyst at MassBudget who authored the report, said in a press release. “If these benefits are allowed to expire before the Massachusetts economy has recovered, a lot of people and prospects for growth will be harmed.”

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Massachusetts could face a $5 billion budget hole; Baker administration takes tax hikes off the table for now

The Senate and House chairmen of their respective chambers’ budget committees, Michael J. Rodrigues and Aaron Michlewitz, prepared to host a virtual roundtable with experts to determine how dire Massachusetts’ financial picture is.

“There’s a budgetary crisis happening,” said Marie-Frances Rivera, president of … Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center.

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Most Experts See Year-Over-Year Tax Revenue Decline

The Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center decided not to prepare a revenue estimate number for this hearing, said its president, Marie-Frances Rivera, citing “all the uncertainty and variables.” In April, MassBudget said that if patterns from prior recessions hold and there is some limited growth, fiscal 2021 collections could land between $5 billion and $5.7 billion shy of the estimates budget writers agreed to in January.

“We think that there’s a budgetary crisis that’s happening and we all have to be just fully aware and eyes-open about that,” Rivera said Wednesday. “There’s danger because all of the public goods that we’re relying on to guide us through this public health economic crisis, whether it’s health care, whether it’s housing people, whether it’s educating our young people, a lot of these are in jeopardy and the needs are growing.”

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Tax hikes should be last resort as state seeks revenue

According to the News Service, Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, a state finance think tank, says its time for lawmakers to consider other ways to fill budget gaps, other than borrowing money.

They include tapping into the state’s $3.5 billion reserves and adopting “new policies to increase revenue.”

Translation: raising taxes.

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