Just a week ago, the fate of Gov. Charlie Baker’s tax cut proposal seemed all but sealed, confined to the dustbin of the State House committee where it languished — and then April’s tax revenue numbers came in.
“You could fund our entire tax proposal — more than one time — with just the surplus in the month of April,” Baker told reporters Thursday.
April tax revenues, according to the Department of Revenue, were a whopping $3 billion higher than they were last year, coming in at nearly $7 billion and a full $2 billion more than expected.
Baker had previously proposed a now modest-looking $700 million series of tax cuts which included relief for renters, adoption of federal standards for no-tax status for low-income residents, an adjustment of the “low-income circuit breaker” on property tax relief for older residents, and a proposal to lower the estate and short-term capital gains taxes.
The Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, a nonpartisan watchdog group, has endorsed the tax plan.
“The totality of resources available to the commonwealth warrants tax relief now,” Eileen McAnneny, MTF president, told the Herald Thursday.
The House’s nearly $50 billion budget proposal was approved last week but absent any of the governor’s tax cut proposals.
Republicans in the House presented several amendments which would have added the cuts or some version but none were approved. That budget would add another $785 million to the rainy day fund, already at a historic high of $4.6 billion.
On Wednesday, and in light of the tax revenue report, Senate President Karen Spilka indicated the upper chamber would look at taxes this session, saying she had told senators to “work with their partners in government to pursue a tax relief package.”
The Senate will begin debating their budget proposal this month. The legislative session ends July 31.
“I believe we can safely balance targeted spending investments to a number of crucial areas, such as housing, childcare and higher education, with tax relief for individuals and families,” Spilka said.
Rep. Mark Cusack, a Braintree Democrat, said lawmakers have not had enough time to fully vet Baker’s tax plan.
“The governor wanting it is one thing, but there’s 155 members of the House and 40 in the Senate. There’s a lot more that goes into it than saying ‘I want it, so do it,’” Cusack said Wednesday.
Baker said he has been speaking with leaders in the House and the Senate but wasn’t prepared to guess what sort of tax cuts they may be willing to consider.
“The legislature is always going to be a little careful about what they tell me about what their plans are, just as they are careful about telling you what their plans are. But there is a lot of back and forth at the staff level about details and that’s a really good sign,” he told reporters.
Herald wire service contributed to this report.
Quincy, MA – May 5: Ronald Mariano speaks as Mass. Gov. Charlie Baker speaks about the stateÕs capital Budget announcement at the Quincy Courthouse on May 5, 2022 in Quincy, Massachusetts. (Staff Photo By Stuart Cahill/Boston Herald)