Comerford, Whipps: Legislature should reconvene to finish tax relief proposal

  • WHIPPS

  • COMERFORD

For The Athol Daily News
Published: 8/3/2022 3:49:05 PM
Modified: 8/4/2022 11:53:57 AM

BOSTON — It’s exceedingly rare that candidates of opposing parties find themselves in agreement, but such is the case with the lone Democrat and the two Republicans currently running for governor. Attorney General Maura Healey, the lone Democrat in the race, and former state Sen. Geoff Diehl and businessman Chris Doughty — both seeking the GOP nomination — are all calling on the Legislature to be called back into session to consider some form of relief for Massachusetts taxpayers.

Lawmakers failed to pass a bill to provide $1 billion in tax breaks and permanent tax changes prior to the end of the session in the early morning hours of Aug. 1. House Speaker Ron Mariano said a 1986 law that requires tax rebates to be issued complicated plans to pass a tax relief proposal.

State Senate President Karen Spilka wants to see permanent tax relief for residents of the commonwealth. In a statement released Tuesday, Spilka said, “I am very disappointed that agreement was not reached to move forward with consideration to the 1986 law so that our progressive tax relief package, which passed unanimously in the Senate and targeted relief to seniors, renters, and low-income families, could also move forward. The Senate is committed to working with our partners in the House and the administration to finally deliver the tax relief that residents deserve, as soon as we can.”

State Sen. Jo Comerford told the Athol Daily News, “The conversation is sort of bifurcated. There’s one conversation around something called 62F, which is that 1986 law, and which triggers returns to taxpayers should (state) revenue exceed a certain threshold. We will know the exact number in September, I believe. The auditor has to certify it.

“Then there’s the tax package in the economic development bond bill. The economic development bond bill became exceedingly important, both as a spending vehicle and as a bonding vehicle, and as tax package vehicle. It addressed four things: spending, taxes, bonding and policy. My team and I are quite, quite upset we weren’t able to get it done.

“And yes, I support going back into session — without question — to be able to work on a solution with the House.”

Comerford said she hopes lawmakers will be called back to Beacon Hill to sort out the differences between the two chambers relative to the bond bill.

“I’m hoping we go back very soon,” she said. “But we need time to really sort through what this means — the financial impact — and then come back and pass an economic bond bill this session.”

The senator said conversations around the 1986 law could be quite involved.

“What is the effect of 62F going to be?” she asked. “How should we pay for 62F? What intersection does it have with the tax package? Where is the range of tax breaks being proposed by both chambers? I think those conversations became intertwined in a way that was hard to detangle.”

For her part, state Rep. Susannah Whipps said, “I would be very happy to return to formal session. I don’t believe our work is done. The economic bill that got snagged during the final hours of formal session had a great deal of crucial funding for our struggling hospitals, communities and citizens. In this time that unprecedented funds are available, we should do everything we can to push these important measures over the finish line.

“I have faith that the conferees and our legislative leadership are doing everything they can to see this through.”

Greg Vine can be reached at gvineadn@gmail.com.


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