Thursday, May 22, 2008
Senate rejects voters' tax rollback,
Chip Ford's CLT Commentary
memo was hand-delivered
in the morning to every state
senator in their respective State House offices. The debate below took place yesterday afternoon.
Senator Hedlund's and Brown's amendment to the Senate budget
was defeated by a vote of 3 in favor (Hedlund, Brown, and
Timilty) and 17 opposed.
There aren't many Republicans in the state Senate, but there
are more than the two who voted to respect the voters' 2000
mandate that the income tax be rolled back to its
traditional 5 percent. (Even one Democrat voted in favor of
it.) Where were the other three Republicans, Tisei, Knapik,
and Tarr -- or how did they vote, against it? This means
none of the other 37 care what the voters think -- twenty of
them not even enough to bother voting!
A roll call vote wasn't allowed, so we're working on
uncovering who the 17 were who voted against the rollback.
State House News Service
Senate Session – Wednesday, May 21, 2008
CONVENES: The Senate convened at 11:01 am with Sen. Murray
presiding. . . .
INCOME TAX ROLLBACK TO 5 PERCENT: Question came on adopted Hedlund
Sen. Hedlund said: We as a body have been extremely focused lately
on bringing forward on finding efficiencies and on revenue. We’ve
seen the effort to bring the gaming proposal to study. And of course
there has been a lot of discussion on tax policy as we’ve seen a
number of tax breaks go to industries that would benefit for our
This amendment would benefit the average hardworking taxpayer in all
In 1989, the Legislature put in place the temporary income tax hike. I don’t want to belabor this history. That hike was supposed to last
The next year we had a new governor who said we don’t need to engage
in this kind of policy.
It’s 20 years later, that temporary hike has not returned to its
traditional rate of 5 percent.
Several years ago, voters overwhelmingly approved an income tax
reduction. We ignored their will at that time. We made some changes. We enacted a phased rollback. Today, we know that the income tax is
scheduled to go down.
Taxpayers may actually go a vote for a complete repeal of the state
income tax in November. We have an opportunity through this
amendment to preempt that effort and to restore faith in the
Let’s put forward some tax policy that benefits and restores the
trust of the average taxpayer in Massachusetts. They’ve sat back and
watched us enact tax breaks for financial services. They’ve seen us
enact tax breaks for defense contractors. They’ve seen us enact
target tax breaks for the movie industry. The only people benefiting
from those breaks seems to be the actors.
This is something we can do that will reach all taxpayers. I’m
hoping that we will not continue to stiff the average taxpayer and
we will recognize the will of the voters.
This past April we saw receipts jump almost $400 million more in
additional tax revenue. We’ve seen $17 billion of tax receipts come
into the commonwealth this fiscal year, $1.3 billion more than at
this point last year.
This amendment would cost the commonwealth about $600 million in
revenue. Contrast that with the breaks we’re giving some narrow,
Some of my colleagues across the aisle would call that a special
interest. This is not about a special interest. This would benefit
The time has come for this amendment to be put forward. We’re taking
care of some of the big industries and some of our communities. I
think, Mr. President, that this amendment is much more broad-based
and would reach the people who could use it.
I hope and I think it would certainly preempt the efforts of many
who would put forward the question at the ballot box to eliminate
the state income tax. It got 46 percent of votes of the electorate
Sen. Hedlund requested that a vote be taken by a call of the yeas
and nays. There was insufficient support.
Sen. Hedlund requested a vote be taken by a standing vote.
BY A STANDING VOTE OF 3-17, AMENDMENT REJECTED
Members in favor included Sens. Timilty, Brown and Hedlund.
Members opposed included Sens. Walsh,
Petruccelli, Spilka, Moore, Creedon, Chandler, Resor,
Senate Amendment #49
Messrs. Hedlund and Brown moved that the bill be
amended after Section 90, the following new Section:-
“SECTION _____. Section 4 of chapter 62 of the General Laws, as
appearing in the 2006 Official Edition, is hereby amended by
striking out paragraph (b) and inserting in place thereof the
(b) Part B taxable income shall be taxed at the rate of 5.0 per cent
for tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2009.”
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