Healey says tax relief a priority on ‘day one’

Democrat generally supports Baker’s tax package proposal

When legislative leaders this week pushed discussions of tax breaks from this year into next, one reason they gavewas so the discussion “will be informed by the views of a newly elected Legislature and governor.”

Republican Gov. Charlie Baker and the Democratic-led Legislature had agreed in concept (with some differences in details) to increase tax breaks for families with children, renters, seniors, and low-income households and to adjust the estate tax so it kicks in at a higher level. Baker wanted to lower the short-term capital gains tax, but lawmakers disagreed. All those tax breaks were left out of the economic development bill lawmakers voted on Thursday, although residents are benefiting from $3 billion in rebates being sent out as part of the 62F tax refund law, which was triggered by high state revenues.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Geoff Diehl has said he’s all in for lowering taxes. He’s pledged not to raise taxes and has campaigned on an anti-tax platform.

But what will tax policy look like if Democratic Attorney General Maura Healey, who is leading in all the polls, is elected?  Healey said Thursday that she supports tax relief and “it will absolutely be priority day one to work with the Legislature on those reforms.”

Healey has voiced support for both raising and lowering taxes. She supports Question 1 on the ballot, which would raise the tax rate on income over $1 million by four percentage points and earmark the money for transportation and education.

But Healey has also said she supports the tax breaks proposed by Baker. “I think they make a lot of sense and are progressive and they’re directed at seniors, low income, middle income folks, really, really important things,” Healey said in a debate sponsored by WCVB/Channel 5 last month.

Karissa Hand, a Healey spokesperson, said Healey was disappointed the economic development bill does not include “much needed” tax reform. “As governor, it will be a top priority of hers to get this done with the Legislature,” Hand said.

Yet despite that disappointment, Healey campaigned with one of the main decision makers –  House Ways and Means Chair Aaron Michlewitz – on Thursday, visiting Mike’s Pastry, Modern Pastry, and other businesses in Michlewitz’s North End district.

Asked what specific tax breaks she would support, Healey said she would start by looking at Baker’s proposal, which she described as “tax relief for seniors, for low-income folks, for middle-income folks, for renters, also changing the limits for the estate tax and supporting things like the Earned Income Tax Credit.” Healey also mentioned her proposalto create a $600 per child tax credit. Today, the dependent care tax credit is $180 per child capped at two children, and a tax credit for childcare expenses is capped at $240 per child for up to two children.

Healey was noncommittal on Baker’s proposal to lower the tax rate on short-term capital gains, which would help taxpayers who sell investments within a year. Baker proposed it to boost economic competitiveness, and it would help mainly middle and upper-income taxpayers. “I have to look more at that,” Healey said. “In general, I thought the package that Governor Baker put forward made a lot of sense.”

Healey said her campaign stop with Michlewitz focused on the neighborhood, not tax relief. “But look, I’m going to continue to talk with leadership, talk with members of the Legislature, making sure that we act and provide relief to families through tax reform, through a variety of measures,” she said.

Healey also would not say whether she would seek to change the 62F law, which distributes tax refunds proportionally to how much a taxpayer paid. Some progressives have called for distributing the money in a way that favors lower income taxpayers. Healey said she would look at that further, but “I think there’s some more immediate things that we need to work on,” including tax relief and any additional items left out of the economic development bill.

SHIRA SCHOENBERG

 

NEW STORIES FROM COMMONWEALTH MAGAZINE

Blasts from the past: Boston City Councilor Frank Baker accused City Councilor Liz Breadon of being driven by anti-Catholic bias in crafting a council redistricting plan that was approved on Wednesday. In the process, Baker invoked the “Troubles” in Northern Ireland, which were largely put to rest in the 1990s, while also seeming to channel the religious grievances that animated James Michael Curley’s hold on Boston politics a century ago. Read more.

Alcohol bust: DoorDash and Uber Eats are busted for delivering alcohol to underage college students. Read more.

OPINION

Time for action: Boston City Councilor Brian Worrell and his brother Christopher, a state rep candidate, reflect on recent violence that touched people close to them and what needs to be done about it. Read more.

STORIES FROM ELSEWHERE AROUND THE WEB                    

BEACON HILL

Gov. Charlie Baker remains very popular, according to a new UMass poll, but 57 percent of respondents give him a bad grade on transportation issues. (Boston Herald)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

In a case before the SJC, a Southborough couple alleges that the town restricted their rights to free speech with a rule that prohibits “rude, personal, or slanderous remarks.” One of the plaintiffs, Louise Barron, got into a nasty dispute with a Select Board member at a public meeting. (Telegram & Gazette)

The Dorchester Reporter talks with Arthur Jemison, the city’s chief of planning, on why he moved back to Dorchester.

Boston City Councilor Brian Worrell, who wrote this week in CommonWealth about how gun violence has personally hit his family, and Councilor Tania Fernandes Anderson call for a hearing on the issue. (Boston Herald)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Massachusetts nursing home job vacancies are at historic highs. (State House News Service)

Hospitals and insurers joust over rising health care costs. (WBUR)

A sleep expert at Baystate Medical Center argues in favor of keeping Standard Time – not Daylight Savings Time – year-round, citing health benefits. (MassLive)

ELECTIONS

Gov. Charlie Baker urges voters to reject the millionaire’s tax. (Gloucester Daily Times)

All polls show Maura Healey poised to become the state’s next governor – but she insists it is not something she long aspired to. (Boston Globe)

Democratic State Sen. Joan Lovely of Salem is facing a Republican challenge from her former paper boy, Damian Anketell. (Salem News)

Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelides, a Republican, is facing his first election challenge in 12 years, from Democrat David Fontaine. (Telegram & Gazette)

Characterizations of Democratic fears about next week’s midterm election are moving from worry to panic, as a Washington Post headline today says the party is bracing for a “drubbing.” A Republican takeover of one or both branches of Congress could leave the state’s all-Democratic delegation out in the cold when it comes to the official reins of power in Washington. (Boston Globe)

State Rep. Nicholas A. Boldyga, a Southwick Republican, faces a challenge from Democratic Agawam City Councilor Anthony Russo. (MassLive)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Elon Musk at Twitter begins mass layoffs. Many workers learned they had been fired when they tried to log in to their work accounts. A lawsuit has been filed alleging Musk violated federal law in the way he is handling the layoffs. (The Guardian)

Residents of the Fields Corner area of Dorchester vote to support a hybrid book store in a retail space in a building being built adjacent to the MBTA station. (Dorchester Reporter)

EDUCATION

A contract impasse in the South Hadley schools triggers a work-to-rule effort by employees. (Daily Hampshire Gazette)

ARTS/CULTURE

Cambridge spends $45 million transforming an old industrial building into a community art space. (WBUR)

TRANSPORTATION

Several familiar names are being floated for the soon-to-be-vacant general manager position at the MBTA, including recent state auditor candidate Chris Dempsey and former T control board member Monica Tibbits-Nutt. (Boston Herald)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

A new report says Boston’s goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by 2030 is already out of reach. (Boston Globe)

Scientists are proposing new protections for North Atlantic right whales in the face of threats posed by planned wind farm projects off Martha’s Vineyard. (New Bedford Light)

Worcester tries to strike a balance between street trees and solar panels. (Telegram & Gazette)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

The former head of the State Police union and the union’s one-time lobbyist were convicted on multiple fraud chargesin federal court. (Boston Herald)

A jury awards former Sex Offender Registry Board chair Sandra Edwards $820,000, finding that former Gov. Deval Patrick retaliated against her when he fired her for actions she took related to Patrick’s brother-in-law, who was convicted of spousal rape. (Salem News)

Two former inmates at the women’s prison in Framingham file a lawsuit against a former guard and his superiors for sexually assaulting them. (GBH)

MEDIA

More than 200 Gannett staffers are striking today to protest cost-cutting moves, including layoffs and furloughs. (Wall Street Journal)

PASSINGS

Pauline Emilson, a North Marshfield philanthropist and longtime supporter of South Shore Health, dies at 93. (Patriot Ledger)