No tax cuts, but a $3.8 billion “handout stuffed tote bag” landed on the governor’s desk following an informal legislative session criticized by opponents.
It’s a compromise economic development package that comes quietly just before Election Day.
House and Senate leaders said in a joint statement that the bill includes “one-time investments” because they don’t know where the economy is going in 2023.
Leftovers from Governor Charlie Baker’s tax cuts and a planned round of direct refund checks for low-income residents are missing from the initial economic development program agreed upon at the end of formal sessions of the Legislative Assembly.
This, the governor’s office said, “is extremely disappointing.”
Sarah Finlaw, Baker’s communications director, told the Herald in a written statement that “lawmakers no longer support any permanent tax relief for Massachusetts families despite reaching consensus on a tax reduction plan. ‘indispensable taxes just a few months ago’.
Finlaw added: “Since then, costs have continued to soar for families as the Commonwealth’s financial situation grows ever stronger. The Commonwealth has a record budget surplus and can afford to provide permanent tax relief, give tax refunds below 62F and make economic development investments all at the same time.
The MassGOP, in a scathing rebuttal, said the Democratic leadership was advancing “a bloated $3.8 billion spending agenda without registering a single yes or no vote.”
MassGOP leader Jim Lyons added, “Democrats are using an informal session to push through this progressive purse full of documents because they’re afraid they’ll have to register and vote for it.”
Baker has argued for months that lawmakers have more than enough money to pass his tax cuts — about $700 million as proposed and about $500 million as passed — and send money back to taxpayers in under the 1986 law.
House Speaker Ron Mariano has for as long argued that while things are looking up in the Commonwealth now, that may not always be the case. Instead of offering long-term tax cuts, which could hamper revenue in tougher economic times, lawmakers have offered one-time infusions.
“Among many vital investments, the agreement provides relief for rising energy costs, boosts housing production, provides much-needed immediate relief to the MBTA and allocates significant funding to hospitals and social service workers, while promoting economic growth by supporting our small businesses. and investments in our communities,” the lawmakers said.
The economic development bill includes the state’s closing budget for fiscal year 2022, officially required days ago, it comes in time to preserve a Bay State tradition for being late .
In total, with nearly $3 billion returned to taxpayers starting this week, lawmakers will ask Baker to agree to $6.76 billion in spending, leaving $1.75 billion in US bailout funds. on the table.