After Pay Hike, Dems Rule Out Governor's Sales Tax Holiday Plan

BOSTON -- Just months after overriding a gubernatorial veto to give themselves a massive pay hike, Beacon Hill Democrats today shut the door on Governor Baker's proposal to provide just one weekend of sales tax relief for consumers. As the State House News Service notes: "Lawmakers this session quickly passed a hefty pay package for themselves, even though state finances were questionable at the beginning of the year, too."

"It's hard to get a clearer example of just how out-of-touch Democrat politicians are. Their fiscal gamesmanship allowed them to find the revenue to pad their own pockets with a hefty pay hike, but just months later they claim there's no money to provide tax relief for consumers. There are few things voters remember more than a pay raise for politicians, but denying families the chance to save a few dollars is certainly one." -MassGOP Chairman Kirsten Hughes

Chairman 'certain' there won't be a sales tax holiday
By Andy Metzger

Consumers will get no break on the sales tax from the state of Massachusetts this summer, as lawmakers opt for the second year in a row to forego a tax holiday weekend.

Revenue Committee Chairman Jay Kaufman confirmed that August will pass without what has been in recent years a semiannual tradition of suspending the sales tax for one weekend.

"I would say that's certain. I don't see how there could be one since there's no possibility of us having a hearing and a session to vote for one, so there will be no sales tax holiday this year," Kaufman, a Lexington Democrat, told the News Service Monday.

House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Stan Rosenberg had strongly indicated the sales tax holiday was not on their agenda after Gov. Charlie Baker tried to revive the issue last week by filing his own sales tax holiday legislation.

After lawmakers adjourned their final formal sessions of the summer in late July without taking up a sales tax holiday bill, Baker last Wednesday filed a bill to suspend the 6.25 percent tax on purchases under $2,500 the weekend of Aug. 19-20.

"We've heard from a lot of folks who said to us that this is really important to them," Baker said in a WBZ NewsRadio interview last week. "It's important to downtowns, it's important to main streets, and we just think it's the right thing to do."
DeLeo said it made "little sense" for the governor to file a new sales tax holiday bill when other similar bills were already pending before committee, and Rosenberg said he would wait for the recommendations from the committee.
Rep. Shaunna O'Connell, a Taunton Republican, suggested there is a double-standard.

Lawmakers this session quickly passed a hefty pay package for themselves, even though state finances were questionable at the beginning of the year, too.

"They can afford to give these huge pay raises, but they can't afford to give the taxpayers just a small little break once a year that they really look forward to and that really stimulates the economy, gets people out shopping," O'Connell told Boston Herald Radio. She said, "I hope people aren't going to forget about this when it comes election time."

Chris Dempsey, director of Transportation for Massachusetts, debated the sales tax holiday on Greater Boston Monday with Jon Hurst, president of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts.

Rather than providing a major stimulus, Dempsey said the holiday only "shifts purchases around" and doesn't create "a lot of new spending."

Hurst said the holiday is a "life preserver" for business that have a "six and a quarter percent anchor around their neck."

Retailers this month filed potential 2018 ballot questions with the goal of both reducing the sales tax and making the sales tax holidy weekend permanent.