Dem Led Panel Moves Up Baker Tax Relief Decision Deadline


Top Democrats who control the House and Senate are almost always more than happy to glide past deadlines or give themselves more time to make decisions. But for Gov. Charlie Baker's $700 million tax relief proposal, the Legislature on Monday took an unusual step: moving up a committee's due date.

For nearly three weeks, an extension order has been pending that would give the Revenue Committee until July 31 to decide the fate of more than 90 bills, including Baker's lame-duck, $700 million push to change the estate and capital gains taxes and offer breaks for renters, seniors and low-income earners.

Before stamping approval on the punt, however, the House adopted an amendment from Revenue Committee Co-chair Rep. Mark Cusack that instead imposes a July 1 deadline for the governor's tax relief bill (H 4361) and a complementary Baker bill (H 4362) while keeping the later date -- which is also the final day for lawmaking business in the 2021-2022 session -- in place for all of the other proposals.

Cusack did not return a call from the News Service on Monday, but his co-chair, Sen. Adam Hinds, said the panel spliced out Baker's bills for an earlier deadline to factor in the time needed for legislation to clear both branches, head to the governor's desk and then back to the floor for a potential veto override.

"There certainly continues to be active conversation about a package related to tax relief in the short term. I think it's a reflection of that," Hinds said.

Hinds, a Pittsfield Democrat, said he would be "surprised" if his panel seeks to extend its deadline on Baker's bill once again, hinting that some kind of action on taxes -- while declining to say what -- is inbound.

He did not offer specifics when asked what unanswered questions about the governor's package the committee still needs to address.

"For me, the proposals that truly target low-income filers are getting more attention, but there's also been a lot of conversation about an estate tax adjustment," Hinds said. "There are a lot of details of how you might design such proposals that you have to get right." - Chris Lisinski/SHNS

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