Massachusetts Legislature Establishes an Economic Mobility Commission

On July 31, the Legislature established an Economic Mobility Commission as part of the Economic Development Bill (H.4868). As part of CHAPA's legislative agenda, CHAPA worked with the On Solid Ground Coalition to establish the commission. The provision must now be signed into law by the Governor as part of the Economic Development Bill.

 

This commission will help identify the most effective self-sufficiency programs, examine the impact of cliff effects tied to minimum wage increases, and help shape programs that will best assist low-income families achieve economic mobility and independence.

 

Numerous self-sufficiency and economic mobility programs administered on federal, state and local levels work to provide households a path to economic mobility. These programs help families get education, increase their incomes, and build assets to attain financial self-sufficiency and reduce reliance on supports with stable housing as the foundation. Each program offered across the state, including the Family Self-Sufficiency Program, MassLEAP, and Jobs Plus, has a different approach and varying program components with different outcomes.

 

The legislative commission will provide the opportunity to bring together stakeholders to examine these programs. The commission will make recommendations to the Legislature and Administration for programs and components that could be scaled to assist more families across the Commonwealth towards a path of economic mobility.

 

Tied to increases in income, the commission will also examine cliff effects and determine ways to adjust assistance in response to changes in income, including automatic adjustments tied to minimum wage increases. When recipients of support programs begin to work or receive raises, they often experience an economic penalty because of the steep decline in their benefits which leaves them worse off than prior to getting a job or a raise. These setbacks, referred to as “cliff effects”, are a barrier for families trying to achieve economic independence and financial stability.

 

This commission will help more households across the Commonwealth build assets, reduce their reliance on public assistance, and attain financial stability. Establishing this commission will ensure an evidence-based approach to identify and expand, effective economic development opportunities in Massachusetts. For more information on the commission, click here.

 

CHAPA thanks the Economic Mobility Commission bill sponsors, Rep. Aaron Vega and Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry (retired). Thanks also to Sen. Jamie Eldridge for sponsoring the amendment to add the commission to the Economic Development Bill. Finally, thanks to Rep. Joseph Wagner and Sen. Eric Lesser, Chairs of the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies, for including the commission in the Economic Development Bill.