Sign up for the Talking Points newsletter, a carefully curated recap of the most important business news, delivered fresh each afternoon, Monday through Friday.
Chesto means business
Questioning the process: We won’t vote on the “millionaires’ tax” for almost two years. But business groups are already quietly strategizing the best way to fight it.
The labor-backed change to the state constitution would add 4 percentage points to the income tax rate, now 5.1 percent, for personal earnings over $1 million. The new money would go to education and transportation.
Opponents are currently weighing a legal challenge that could send some important questions to the Supreme Judicial Court. Can a voter referendum be this broad? Can the constitution be amended in this way for what many view as an appropriation of state funds?
It’s a sensitive topic. The business groups claim this isn’t about helping fat cats. Instead, they say, it’s about protecting owners of small and midsize companies who pay personal income tax rather, not the corporate tax, on their buisness profits.
Massachusetts High Technology Council chief Chris Anderson says his group’s board members will discuss their next steps, including a possible court challenge, on Feb. 23. They want to firm up an approach before the Legislature takes up the issue again, a necessary step before the tax goes to voters. Several other prominent business associations are also opposed. (The left-leaning Alliance for Business Leadership, meanwhile, is one of the tax’s biggest fans.)
Business leaders know it could be tough to stop this tax at the ballot box. The vast majority of us aren’t millionaires, after all.
Hunger strike: If you were looking to have lunch at Anna’s Taqueria or McKenna’s Cafe today, you either went hungry or found another place to eat. The two restaurants were among those throughout the country that closed in solidarity with striking workers participating in “A Day Without Immigrants.”
The movement was held to show just how important immigrants are in the workforce. Restaurant owners are worried that President Donald Trump’s hardline stance on immigration is going to have an adverse impact on their businesses.
Already facing a labor shortage, restaurant owners don’t know where to turn. “I cannot remember the last time that a US-born applicant walked through the door looking for a dishwashing job,” said Babak Bina, whose BiNA Family Hospitality Group operates three restaurants in Boston.
Who will feed the tourists? In a similar vein, small-business owners on Cape Cod are worried about constraints on foreign workers through the H-2B visa program.
From the Cape Cod Times: Congress ended an exemption for workers who were already in the H-2B visa program, which means all workers will now have to apply through the federal government.
The foreign workers wash dishes, landscape, cook, and clean hotel rooms. In the past, they have been exempted from the 66,000 limit placed on visas. Even if the restaurants and hotels could find US workers, which is doubtful, college students go back to school before the season is over, setting up what some owners call a “disastrous” situation.
Getting the T on track: Governor Charlie Baker announced today that the MBTA is searching for a new general manager.
Baker made the announcement at a gathering of business leaders at a Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce breakfast. The new manager would replace acting General Manager Brian Shortsleeve, who was recruited by Baker to help reduce costs.
Baker told business leaders the state’s not looking for a traditional transit manager. “The new general manager needs to have strong business experience in industries that provide direct service to customers, and the ability to deliver large-scale capital projects.”
Fishing for answers: Gloucester’s working waterfront has suffered from a few setbacks over the years, as fishermen face increasingly stringent federal limits on what they can catch.
From Chesto: Baker trekked up to Cape Ann today with some good news: a $2.7 million grant from the quasi-public Massachusetts Life Sciences Center for the Gloucester Marine Genomics Institute. The money will be used to help build and equip a new facility for the nonprofit on the city’s waterfront that could open sometime next year.
Among the hopes: to learn more about cod and possibly make the case for more fishing in the future. But the broader goal is to help reimagine the city as sort of a biotech hub, to marry its storied past with a high-tech future.
Making the call on a new CEO: A Cambridge company known for phone, videoconference, and messaging software has a new leader at the helm.
Colin Doherty is taking over as chief executive at Fuze Inc., just days after the company announced $104 million in new investments. Doherty succeeds Steve Kokinos, a cofounder of Fuze. He will now serve as the company’s executive chairman.
Though Doherty comes to Fuze from Dyn Inc. after presiding over a sale of that New Hampshire company to Oracle, Kokinos says there are no plans for a quick sale of Fuze. Instead, Doherty will prepare Fuze for an initial public offering, perhaps in 2018.
Udder despair: Profits at Dean Foods, the country’s largest dairy processer, were well below what analysts forecasted, leaving a sour taste for investors. With the demand for milk down, the company is looking at organic dairy as a potential avenue for growth.
Ups and downs at Fidelity:
Record revenue, even as stocks stumble -- Boston Globe
Obesity drug maker bulks up:
$41 million invested in Rhythm -- Xconomy Boston
Acosta is new pick for labor:
Trump moves quickly to replace Puzder -- New York Times
Playing the blame game:
Video games at fault in gender gap -- Quartz
Today’s shameless cross-promotion: These days if you’re not on Twitter 24/7, you could be missing important political news. The Globe’s Joshua Miller keeps you up to date with what’s happening on Beacon Hill with a smattering of Donald Trump thrown in. Sign up to join the Political Happy Hour.
Plug those leaks: The White House isn’t the only place experiencing leaks these days. That smartphone you’re carrying around may be giving away more of your secrets than you know.
Those iPhone and Android apps leave “data exhaust,” according to a story published in today’s Globe. Personal information, like your location and your contact list, can then be exploited by unscrupulous companies.
Software developers at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh are working on a way to identify and block apps from knowing too much with an app called Privacy Assistant.
There are already ways to block data, but it’s so cumbersome that people often click through and allow access. The effort in Pittsburgh provides hope there will be a “catalytic converter for data exhaust.”The Talking Points newsletter is compiled by George Brennan. Follow George on Twitter at @gpb227. If you liked what you've read, please tell your friends to sign up.