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Governor Charlie Baker expects Legislature to approve tax cut

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Gov. Charlie Baker [Sam Doran SHNS]

Colin A. Young

The dam appears to have broken on tax relief as state revenues continue to surge and Gov. Charlie Baker now expects that the Legislature, despite its recent tax votes, will approve some kind of a tax cut by the time formal lawmaking ends this summer.

“The commonwealth of Mass. is awash in revenue, and we’ve been saying since January, this needs to go back to, a piece of this needs to go back to the taxpayers,” Baker said Friday morning during the Associated Industries of Massachusetts annual meeting. “And I really do anticipate that there will be some sort of tax cut that makes it through the process between now and the end of the legislative session,” he added.

Baker this week ratcheted up pressure on legislative leaders to get on board with tax relief as April revenues came in more than $2 billion ahead of expectation. Until this week, House Speaker Ronald Mariano and Senate President Karen Spilka mostly kept the idea of tax relief and reform at an arm’s length.

The Revenue Committee has kept Baker’s $700 tax relief proposal on ice, Democrats repeatedly rejected calls for a gas tax suspension, the House passed a budget without incorporating tax relief plans sought by Republicans, and the speaker and Senate president were noncommittal about putting a relief plan before their chambers. But after the Department of Revenue reported a massive April of tax collections, Spilka said she now thinks Massachusetts can balance investments in things like child care and higher education with a tax relief package for residents. She said she directed Senate leaders to “work with their partners in government to pursue a tax relief package for residents before the end of session” but after the Senate passes its own fiscal year 2023 budget. The budget is due by July 1, but a budget accord is often tardy.

Mariano, who has been open to tax relief proposals and said the House last year had started looking into some of the same ideas that Baker proposed, told the News Service on Wednesday night that he would expect tax relief conversations with Spilka to wait until after the Senate’s budget debate the last week of May.

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