Healey tells business group no one will compete harder

On radio show, she talks of eliminating ‘tax outliers’

GOV. MAURA HEALEY started stumping for public support for her budget and tax proposals on Thursday, with the message tailored a bit to each of her audiences.

In a speech to 800 at a morning event hosted by the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, Healey talked broadly about her tax and spending proposals and emphasized her desire to make Massachusetts competitive with other states.

“No one is going to compete harder as your governor than me,” she told the Chamber at the Westin Hotel in Boston. “We’ve got to make sure we’re competitive with other states when it comes to attracting and retaining employers and businesses and keeping our residents here in the state.”

Healey talked up her proposed tax breaks for parents, renters, and seniors, but emphasized her proposals to treat all capital gains the same (right now short-term gains are taxed at 12 percent and all other gains at 5 percent) and to increase the threshold on the estate tax from $1 million to $3 million.

Business groups like the capital gains and estate tax proposals, and Healey didn’t rule out other similar tax breaks emerging as the package moves through the Legislature.

“That’s part of an ongoing discussion to attract businesses to Massachusetts and keep businesses in Massachusetts,” she said.

In response to a question from Chamber host James Rooney, Healey said she would pitch companies outside of Massachusetts to come to the state. “I’ve never been a cheerleader but I am ready to be a cheerleader now,” she said.

In an appearance on Boston Public Radio later in the day, Healey focused on the tax breaks benefitting parents, seniors, and renters. “The tax package I would describe as pretty targeted relief to some of those who need it most,” she said.

Only when radio host Jim Braude asked about tax breaks benefitting the wealthy did she get into a discussion about the estate and capital gains tax breaks. She noted Massachusetts is one of only three states that tax short-term capital gains differently and one of 12 states with an estate tax. She said Massachusetts and Oregon have the lowest estate tax threshold in the nation at $1 million.

“All I’m looking to do is make us not an outlier, to make us more consistent with the rest of the country,” she said.

She also sought to portray her estate tax proposal as a change that will benefit middle-income families. Pointing out that many families have seen the value of their homes appreciate dramatically over the years, she said the higher threshold should save their estates a lot of money when the tax is triggered.

Healey is trying to build public support for her spending and tax blueprints, but ultimately the people she needs to convince are lawmakers on Beacon Hill.

Healey’s tax plan mirrors a similar plan put forward last year by her predecessor, Charlie Baker. That plan fizzled at the end of the legislative session amid concerns the state couldn’t afford both the tax package and a $3 billion surprise giveback to taxpayers.

During their deliberations last year, both branches of the Legislature showed no interest in the capital gains tax proposal.