Baker reaffirms no new taxes

Gov. Charlie Baker reaffirmed his support for no new taxes on Monday, disavowing statements last week and making clear he is not as progressive as many in Massachusetts seem to think he is.

Baker’s flip-flop on extending the state’s hotel tax to short-term rentals was revealing because the tax was about as painless as taxes get. Indeed, Airbnb and some of the other companies whose clients would have had to pay the tax were in favor of it. How often does that happen?

The governor’s progression on the Airbnb tax is worth examining in some detail,. Last Thursday, on a radio talk show, Baker said he would support a Senate proposal to extend the hotel tax to short-term rentals to help finance an expansion of the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit. Baker said extending the reach of the tax would level the playing field between hotels and companies like Airbnb. “That falls into the category of creating the proper competitive environment,” he said.

The next day Baker’s administration issued a statement saying he wouldn’t support the legislation after all, largely because the revenues generated by extending the reach of the hotel tax would not be enough to support the expansion of the EITC.

Few people took note of the Friday statement. A Boston Herald editorial on Monday accused Baker of going wobbly on new taxes and caving in to state Democratic leaders. The week before Grover Norquist, at the Republican convention, was calling the governor out for refusing to sign a no-new-taxes pledge.

So Baker further clarified his position on Monday. Initially, he said he hadn’t read the full bill before making his comments last week and made a mistake in endorsing it. He said he was still interested in creating a level playing field among industry competitors (a position he did not adopt during the Uber vs. taxi debate earlier this year), but not with new taxes.

“That’s a legitimate issue and one that’s worth discussing, but if anybody thinks I’m walking back my no new taxes view of the world, they’re mistaken,” Baker said. “I’m not interested in raising taxes. I am interested in level playing fields. At this point in time on this particular issue, those two things seem to be in conflict.”

BRUCE MOHL

BEACON HILL

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh is pushing for more local control over the issuance of liquor licenses, which is not sitting well with some members of the Boston Beacon Hill delegation.

Gov. Charlie Baker says he will sign legislation ensuring illegal immigrants cannot obtain driver’s licenses. (Masslive)

A Herald News editorial urges the Legislature to clarify Attorney General Maura Healey’s order on copycat assault weapons and decide which weapons are banned and which are not.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

The b.good restaurant chain is taking over operation of the city-owned farm on Long Island. (Boston Globe)

Boston is developing a city identification card designed particularly to help those who have no way of proving who they are. (Boston Globe)

Developer Sal Lupoli is ready to begin the makeover of the old Thorndike Mill building in Lowell. (The Sun)

Dudley officials say it makes sense to buy a plot of land to protect the area’s water resources; a side benefit is that the purchase would block an Islamic cemetery proposed at the site. (Telegram & Gazette)

Brockton wants to turn a rundown baseball, basketball, and tennis park into a soccer complex, but not everyone is on board. (The Enterprise)

CASINOS

One year in, the Plainridge slots parlor is a modest success. (Boston Globe)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

The Alaska Supreme Court invalidates a law requiring doctors to notify parents before performing an abortion on children under 18. (Governing)

ELECTIONS

At the Democratic National Convention: Michelle Obama steals the show, Bernie Sanders backs Hillary, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren takes on Donald Trump. (New York Times) The Atlantic calls Michelle Obama’s address a speech for the ages. Sarah Silverman, a Bernie supporter, tells his restless backers: “You’re being ridiculous.” Boston Herald columnist Joe Battenfeld says the Bernie backers are not going quietly into the night. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh introduces himself to the DNC as an alcoholic. (Boston Herald)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Thanks to changing tastes, Polar Beverages is an overnight hit after a century on store shelves. (Boston Globe)

Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co. would admit no wrongdoing in paying $30.9 million to settle charges that it charged excessive fees to employees who participated in a retirement plan. (Masslive)

EDUCATION

Talks between the city of Boston and the Boston Teachers Union appear to be bogged down. (Boston Globe)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Christine Griffin of the Disability Law Center says prison is no place to treat the mentally ill. (CommonWealth)

Weymouth sees a surge in suspected drug overdose deaths. (Patriot Ledger)

Jeff Kepner, the recipient of a double hand transplant, said he would have them removed if he could. (Time)

TRANSPORTATION

T notes: On everything from fare evasion citations being issued at a record pace to transit oriented development in Mattapan and Beverly to more preparations for winter. (CommonWealth)

Globe columnist Dante Ramos supports efforts to give local officials more control over transportation funding, including local option taxes.

Globe columnist Kevin Cullen calls for a beer summit between Gov. Charlie Baker, Carmen’s Union chief James O’Brien, and MBTA Chief Administrator Brian Shortsleeve.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

New Hampshire Rep. Herb Richardson says shame on a Granite State environmental group for trying to bring Massachusetts into the debate over whether to bury power lines. (CommonWealth

A Lowell Sun editorial takes Billerica officials to task for treating a bee farm unfairly.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

A federal appeals court hears the pleas of former Probation commissioner John O’Brien and a top aide, but gives no indication of whether federal prosecutors overstepped their authority in criminalizing a rigged hiring system. (Boston Globe)

An appeal by two Teamsters could define the line for union advocacy. (Boston Globe)

The Middleboro owner of a German Shepherd is charged with animal cruelty for tethering the dog for at least 24 hours, prompting the pet to gnaw off his foot to escape. (Masslive)