Friday, June 30, 2023

Representative Michael Soter Appointed To Tax Relief Conference Committee

House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) has appointed State Representative Michael J. Soter (R-Bellingham) to a six-member Conference Committee that will review the House and Senate’s competing tax relief proposals.

As a member of the Conference Committee, Representative Soter will work with his colleagues to try to resolve the differences between the $1.1 billion House tax relief package, which was approved on April 13 as House Bill 3770, and the Senate’s $594 million proposal, which was passed on June 15 as Senate Bill 2406. While both bills contain some similar tax relief provisions, there are also several significant differences that need to be resolved before a final bill can be sent to Governor Maura Healey for her signature.

Joining Representative Soter on the Conference Committee are House Ways and Means Chairman Aaron Michlewitz (D-Boston), Revenue Committee House Chairman Mark Cusack (D-Braintree), Senate Ways and Means Chairman Michael Rodrigues (D-Westport), Revenue Committee Senate Vice Chairwoman Susan Moran (D-Falmouth), and Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester).

“Passing a wide-ranging tax relief bill is critical to ensuring that Massachusetts remains competitive while also addressing concerns about the state’s affordability,” said Representative Jones. “As someone who has run a successful business, Mike understands the importance of promoting a favorable business climate and creating an environment where individuals can afford to live and raise a family. I am confident he will work with his fellow conferees to reach consensus on a broad tax relief package that will assist as many residents and employers as possible.”

Both the House and Senate bills call for increasing the rent deduction cap, the base credit on the Senior Circuit Breaker Tax Credit, and the state match on the federal Earned Income Tax Credit. The two bills also recommend raising the estate tax threshold from $1 million to $2 million but take different approaches to doing so while also disagreeing on how much to increase the child and dependent tax credit.

Conferees must also determine whether to retain the House’s proposed reduction in short-term capital gains taxes and the adoption of a single sales factor apportionment for all corporate excise taxes, as well as the Senate’s proposals to increase the low-income housing tax credit cap and the statewide cap on the Housing Development Incentive Program.

In addition to his new Conference Committee assignment, Representative Soter also serves as a member of the state’s Tax Expenditure Review Commission. Created in 2018, the commission is responsible for reviewing state tax policy, determining the fiscal impact of specific tax expenditures, and recommending changes as needed to the Legislature.

A former member of the Bellingham Board of Selectmen, Representative Soter was first elected to the House of Representatives in November of 2018. He represents the Eighth Worcester District, which is comprised of the towns of Bellingham, Medway (Precinct 1), Blackstone, Millville, and Uxbridge (Precincts 1A, 2, 3, and 4).

Monday, June 19, 2023

Celebrating Juneteenth Independence Day

Today the House Republican Caucus joins with Americans everywhere to celebrate Juneteenth Independence Day. The holiday’s origins can be traced to June 19, 1865 when Union Army Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas to announce that the Civil War was over and America’s last remaining slaves were free, thanks to President Lincoln’s issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation more than two years earlier, on January 1, 1863.

Massachusetts’ governors have commemorated June 19 as Juneteenth Independence Day since 2007 with an annual proclamation recognizing “the significant contributions individuals of African descent have made to the Commonwealth and to the United States.” In July of 2020, the Massachusetts Legislature passed and former Governor Charlie Baker signed into law language in a supplemental budget declaring Juneteenth an official state holiday, which Baker noted would help “to recognize the continued need to ensure racial freedom and equality.” In June of 2021, President Joe Biden signed legislation making Juneteenth Independence Day a national holiday.

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Boston Globe Op-Ed: High Taxes Are Driving People Out Of Massachusetts

Today’s Boston Globe features an op-ed piece from House Minority Leader Brad Jones and Ross Connolly, the regional director for New England at Americans for Prosperity, that focuses on the need for tax reforms to stem the exodus of residents who are leaving Massachusetts for more affordable states. Governor Maura Healey has talked about making Massachusetts more competitive, and this op-ed makes the case for achieving that worthy goal by implementing common-sense tax reforms such as increasing the estate tax threshold and preserving the voter-approved Chapter 62F law.  

With the Massachusetts House having passed a tax relief package in April and the Senate expected to unveil its own tax proposal in “the next two weeks,” the issue of tax reform could not be timelier. Be sure to check out the op-ed here.