Hinds: Tax debate an ‘important strategy’ for next session

  • The Massachusetts State House in Boston FILE PHOTO

State House News Service
Published: 11/17/2020 11:08:33 PM

Quietly dropping a fight that progressives have urged the Legislature to take on, state senators will not debate a proposal to raise taxes on corporations and the income derived from stocks and bonds as part of this year’s state budget, but some have their eye on a broader revenue talk when the new term begins in January.

The lame duck budget debate kicked off in the Senate Tuesday after House lawmakers last week passed their roughly $46 spending plan on a 143-14 vote.

State Sen. Jo Comerford withdrew an amendment (82) she said she filed with support of her constituents and advocates in the Raise Up Coalition, which sought to increase the tax rates on corporate profits, on profits from Massachusetts-based corporations that Comerford said had been shifted overseas, and on so-called “unearned income” like dividends and interest.

“I urge all of us to take up revenue at the top of next session, and I know I’m not alone in my desire to do so,” the Northampton Democrat said, pointing to the revenue working group led by state Sen. Adam Hinds, D-Pittsfield. 

State Sen. Becca Rausch said there were other revenue amendments that would not be adopted, including her plan to impose an opioid-sales excise tax on pharmaceutical companies and “creative and progressive” proposals from other senators.

“These measures are equitable and have garnered broad support and we truly must address them in the future,” Rausch said.

Like the House’s, the Senate budget does not propose broad-based tax hikes, and Ways and Means Chairman Michael Rodrigues has said that while senators could offer tax amendments, his committee would not support them.

The fiscal 2021 budget relies on federal stimulus dollars and other one-time money that won’t be available next year.

“You can see why holding onto the tools that might allow us to bring new revenue to the table in the next fiscal year is actually an important strategy for us,” he said. “It’s a way to maintain those critical investments next fiscal year and beyond, when we do not have the current levels of external supports. All of the above points to a robust debate on revenue in the new year, and I for one look forward to that.”

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