|Raise Up: huge loser. AG Maura Healey: kind of a loser, because she certified the question as valid when it wasn't. Assistant AG Juliana deHaan Rice definitely a loser, on this one, because she argued the case on behalf of the Commonwealth.|
Conversely, Chris Anderson and the Mass. High Technology Council he heads were obvious winners, along with the Council's legal team at Goodwin Proctor. Baker unquestionably a winner, because he now doesn't have to alienate anyone by declaring on the question. And, don't forget, that question was going to pull a certain, unknown quantity of voters to the polls this November, and it was polling well, and it's reasonable to think the motivated ballot-casters would lean more progressive than moderate. Now that that debate won't pull people out, Baker looks that much more secure.
The elimination of the millionaire's tax gave business groups more room to negotiate on other ballot initiatives, and that they apparently did with great vigor and no transparency. Two days after the bombshell ruling, the complex of compromises commonly dubbed the Grand Bargain was sitting before the governor, ready for him to resolve some of the state's most prominent policy proposals with a single signature.
In breathtakingly short order Wednesday, the House unveiled, reported from Ways and Means, and then passed a package in which long-debated and fiercely-negotiated provisions affecting virtually everyone in Massachusetts were settled. The Senate followed suit, and by 8 p.m. Baker had the bargain.
The Mass. Retailers Association dropped its proposal for a sales tax increase, but accepted an increase in the minimum wage, in return for which it won an end to the state law requiring workers be paid time-and-a-half for Sunday and holiday hours. The minimum wage increase from $11 to $15 an hour will occur in five years, not four, as the Raise Up ballot question proposes, and tipped workers won't see their minimum rise as much as in the question. There will be a permanent annual sales tax holiday on state lawbooks (again, if the governor signs the compromise). Raise Up and the unions won their long-sought paid leave program, covering sick time, family care, maternity and paternity, and bereavement absences from the workplace.
Lawmakers' reponse to the sweeping deal bore the classic marks of the successful compromise: no one seemed gleeful or miserable, no one seemed overly happy, but most seemed satisfied. Sen. Barbara L'Italien called it an "impossible" vote. Sen. Cynthia Creem said she felt forced to choose between workers and women. But, obviously, the majority made their peace with the mix of pros and cons (including L'Italien and Creem).