Dodges Income Tax Rollback, again
October 18, 2005
State House News Service
House Session - Tuesday, October 18, 2005
HOUSE SESSION - TUESDAY, OCT. 18, 2005
CONVENES: The House convened at 11:03 am, Rep. Petrolati of
Ludlow presiding. Chaplain Robert Quinn offered a prayer and the Pledge
of Allegiance was recited....
FISCAL í06 $300M SUPPLEMENTAL BUDGET: At 3:22 pm, question
came on ordering to third reading H 4440 making nearly $300 million in
fiscal 2006 appropriations.
Rep. DeLeo urged passage of the appropriations bill.
As has been widely reported, the Commonwealth realized a surplus in
fiscal 2005. Due to rising revenues and responsible budgeting on the
part of this Legislature, we find ourselves in the enviable position of
how best to deal with surplus funds.
In a large measure, we have already done so. In Chapter 106 of 2005, the
Legislature deposited $691 million of that surplus into the
This was an item which I know was so important to each and every member
of this body to put that money back and once again rebuild the fund for
what someday may be a rainy day. We knew our responsibility was to put
back what we took out in the fiscal 2005. We knew we had the
responsibility to build the account to pre-recession levels.
After paying outstanding bills and funding obligations, we are left with
a modest amount of funds. The bill spends about $300 million in one-time
revenues. It seems like an awful lot of money.
Itís interesting to note that we have 405 amendments before us. It
approaches the regular budget debate. We have requests totaling $2
billion. I could take this $300 million and all the stabilization funds
and still we do not have enough money to satisfy the wishes today. I
hope the members would consider this as we begin a very long day.
We provide some $100 million for a capital reserve fund between the
UMass system and state and community colleges. We provide $55 million
for roads and bridges through Chapter 90. We provide $20 million for
LIHEAP. This is going to be the first step in this Speakerís role in
addressing some of the energy needs. We provide $15 million for
community development action grants and $8 million for higher education
endowments to leverage private donations. We provide $7.2 million to
address monetary deficiencies of local housing authorities. We provided
$5 million for a reserve to ensure that seawalls that protect coastal
residents are in good order, $5 million for various transportation
programs, and $10 million to improve environmental and historic
resources. We provide some $25 million to address the waiting list for
Many members have spoken relative to the devastation that has occurred
throughout the Commonwealth as a result of rain and flooding which has
occurred these past two weeks. In talking to A&F there is going to be
hopefully a supplemental budget, which is going to be out in the not too
distant future to address some of these concerns. In talking to
Secretary Trimarco, I informed him of the need to do this as
expeditiously as possible, which he ensured me he would do.
I have an amendment requesting from A&F to report back to us the
monetary needs to address this devastation and what kind of timeframe
they are talking about and what resources are available. These and other
provisions address the memberships concerns, but not all of them. We try
to meet as many needs as possible without violating the tenets of fiscal
INCOME TAX AMENDMENT: Rep. Jones offered amendment 361,
which, among other things, set the income tax rate at 5 percent
effective Jan. 1, 2006.
Rep. DeLeo headed into Speaker DiMasiís office.
Rep. Binienda was recognized.
Rep. Flynn said point of parliamentary inquiry. Amendments had to
be filed by noon. Can someone still file an amendment to an amendment?
Rep. Petrolati said further amendments are in order.
DOR STUDY AMENDMENT: Rep. Binienda offered a further
amendment regarding a Department of Revenue study.
Rep. Binienda said this will give us a chance to hear back form
DOR on the effect of the amendment on a tight budget we have before us.
I hope the further amendment is adopted.
Rep. Jones said it really comes as no surprise that the chair of
Rules said weíd have a debate and this is the appropriate vehicle. He
was erroneous in his observation or needed a further opportunity to
research the issue. A story over the weekend relative to the Legislature
looking at additional taxes, so I think itís appropriate to have a
debate about taxes.
The Election Laws Committee is having an oversight hearing on signature
gathering and while itís appropriate to be concerned about the sanctity
of the process, we should be equally concerned about respecting the will
of the voters.
A similar amendment was offered in the budget, with a similar request by
the chair of Revenue. There has been ample opportunity and warning
available so an analysis could be readily available. At least allow the
open debate that should be the hallmark of this chamber and was the
promise of the leader of this chamber.
Rep. Peterson said he hopes the further amendment is not adopted.
Last week we talked about what would be within the scope and we had the
idea that a bill reducing the income tax might not be within the scope.
If it was though we could go back to the age-old process of requiring a
study. Can you tell me how many reports have been issued over the years
after studies were ordered? Last time I checked I donít think Iíve seen
any report on any of those studies that were requested. I can guarantee
you there will not be a report issued to us on this further amendment in
the near future or in the future.
The general public took it to the ballot box and the voters said you the
Legislature should roll back the income tax. A similar petition that was
more drastic would have done away with the personal income tax so $14
billion we generate, we would not have to appropriate. Surprisingly,
that referendum question came very close to passing, somewhere around 47
The people of the Commonwealth would like to see their personal income
tax rate rolled back to 5 percent. They have said it at the ballot box.
We hear about the fiscal crisis. There are legitimate concerns. But we
are seeing unprecedented rates of income and having over $1 billion in
the rainy day fund, I think it would be prudent and wise to abide by the
will of our voters who are trying to come up with money for heat and
gasoline and fuel and energy for their small businesses. The best pay
raise for a small business is to reduce the personal income tax burden.
Defeat the further amendment.
Further amendment ADOPTED. Rep. Peterson doubted the vote and there
was support for a roll call.
Rep. Petrolati opened the roll call at 3:41 pm and said it would
be open for three minutes.
BY A ROLL CALL VOTE OF 130-21, FURTHER AMENDMENT ADOPTED at 3:46 pm.
Rep. Wagner received permission to vote late and voted yes at
Jones amendment, as further amended, ADOPTED.
Bill ordered to third reading at 3:48 pm.
At 3:49 pm, Reps. Wolf, Haddad, and Petersen received permission to vote
on the last roll call and they voted yes.
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