Boston- State Senate Republicans amplified their calls again today for the enactment of tax cuts promised by House and Senate leaders prior to the end of the formal legislative year-end session on Sunday. After months of repeated calls for structural tax cuts from Republicans eventually won support from legislative Democratic party leaders on Beacon Hill, new bills emerged in July spiriting hopeful taxpayers.
Top Democratic legislative leaders promised at least $500 million worth of changes to the tax code and $500 million more to create the Taxpayer Energy and Economic Relief Fund to deliver what they called “immediate financial relief directly to residents of the Commonwealth” those tax cuts hang in limbo.
The $1 billion in tax relief was initially approved in separate versions of the Economic Development, however, House and Senate leaders have not brought forward a final bill prompting Republican senators to warn that taxpayers, banking on the commitments made by legislative leaders, are at further financial risk if Democrats fail to deliver.
In addition to, and separate from, the tax proposals on hold in the House and Senate, a voter-approved state law adopted at the ballot in 1986 will likely mandate the rebate of tax revenue surpluses collected that exceeded fiscal year thresholds established in the statute. According to Governor Charlie Baker’s Commissioner for Administration and Finance office, the state tax credit rebate owed by law to taxpayers this year could trigger more than $2.5 billion to be returned this fall.
“Economic hardships have brought financial matters to the forefront of our citizens and Senate Republican Caucus members welcomed our Democratic colleagues when they agreed with us that delivering meaningful tax relief this legislative session was both urgent and vital,” said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R- Gloucester). “Senate Republicans remain committed to the taxpayers because people are suffering without the immediate and long-term tax relief that was promised this session and the already mandated voter-approved law of 1986.”
In the waning days of the legislative session calls from the public grow more dire as Massachusetts residents face what Democratic leaders called in their tax cut plan rollout “the crippling impact of rising prices, inflation, and economic uncertainty” and the recent official determination of a nation-wide economic recession
“Yesterday we learned about the impact of a law that was passed by 54% of the vote in 1986 that will dramatically help taxpayers across the Commonwealth. The law will provide relief from rising prices on just about everything as we enter an economic recession. Some estimates have this tax relief as great as $3.2 billion or nearly six times greater than the Democrat's tax relief package," said State Senator Ryan Fattman (R-Sutton). "However, The Massachusetts legislature has a long history of overturning the will of the people at the ballot. An attempt by Democrats to change this law will undermine the will of the people, and therefore prevent the millions of people we represent from getting this significant tax relief. It will also likely undermine the General Court’s ability to get anything done on further tax relief after August 1st when we enter unanimous consent operations.”
“Time is of the essence to deliver tax cuts for the people of Massachusetts,” said Senator Patrick O’Connor (R-Weymouth). “With rising costs in every area of our economy, we need serious structural changes to ensure people can continue to stay in their homes, put food on the table, and make ends meet. The state remains flush with cash and state law originally enacted in 1986 dictates that the state return upwards of $2.5 billion to the taxpayers. It is imperative that we follow existing law and send a multi-billion dollar tax break package to Governor Baker’s desk.”
“The 1986 voter-approved law was adopted as a fundamental protection and last-moment attempts to gut or change it without public input would be a disservice to those paying our government’s bills,” said Senator Tarr. “I continue to embrace and welcome my Democratic Party colleagues in joining our efforts to produce long-lasting structural relief and for the immediate relief that we have all proclaimed in numerous public statements and debate. I have repeatedly said one-time relief is good but tax relief that is sustainable and reliable like those championed by Governor Baker and members of the Republican Caucus is imperative.”
Lawmakers have until the end of Sunday at midnight when their formal sessions are concluded for the two-year term under their rules.