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Council in the News

Healey seeks to cut estate,capital gains taxes. Business groups want more. 

Boston Business Journal | March 2, 2023
Greg Ryan-Senior Reporter, Boston Business Journal


Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey told business leaders on Thursday that she sees proposed cuts to estate and capital gains taxes as “the start of a conversation” about ways to make Massachusetts more economically competitive.

The governor’s remarks to more than 700 attendees at a Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce forum at The Westin Copley Place came a day after she unveiled her first budget proposal. The Democrat has put forward bigger tax breaks for families and seniors, as well as the elimination of the estate tax for estates up to $3 million and a reduction in the short-term capital gains tax to 5% from 12%.

Those two tax cuts drew praise from business groups this week, but some of those same organizations said Healey’s budget left them wanting more. The groups have pushed Healey, since before she was inaugurated, to take steps to counteract what they see as the effect of the “millionaires tax” on the state’s business climate.

Healey used the speech to tout her budget proposal, including free community college for people 25 or older. After the speech, Chamber CEO Jim Rooney asked Healey onstage what other steps she intends to take to cut down on employer costs.

Without giving specifics, the governor replied that her administration remains “open to dialogue” with not just the Legislature, but “also all of you” in the room, on how to make the Bay State more affordable and more competitive.

“We share the end goal of making sure that Massachusetts — our residents, families, students, seniors, businesses — are soaring. That’s what we want,” Healey said. “I don’t want to see people going to Texas — I mean Austin’s cool, but whatever — or Florida, North Carolina. But this is the dynamic right now.”

Rooney followed up to ask whether she stands ready to be the “chief salesperson” for the commonwealth, when governors from other places like Texas, North Carolina and Florida are calling Massachusetts executives to try to get them to move jobs to their states.

“I’ve never been a cheerleader, but I am ready to be a cheerleader now,” said the former Harvard basketball guard. “I know (Lt. Gov.) Kim (Driscoll) is as well. The fact of the matter is, there are other governors, there are other mayors out there hustling, competing hard, and we’ve got to do that and more.”

Asked by a reporter after the speech about whether changes to the state’s tax incentives for businesses are under consideration, Healey said that such a move is “part of an ongoing discussion” about keeping companies in Massachusetts and bringing new companies here.

“I look forward to continued discussions with business leaders, with employers, with companies both here and outside of Massachusetts, about what we need to do,” she said.

In a statement after the rollout of the budget on Wednesday, the Massachusetts High Technology Council applauded Healey for seeking to increase access to community colleges for adults, among other measures, but found “rehabilitating Massachusetts’ declining business climate will require far more significant steps.” It contended most states do not have any estate tax, and that even the reduced capital gains tax would put Massachusetts on a similar level to other states, not at a competitive advantage.

Meanwhile, the estate and capital gains tax cuts came in for criticism from progressive organizations, including the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center.

“Tax cuts for the wealthy are not effective economic development policy, are inconsistent with voter’s intent in passing the Fair Share Amendment, and weaken our ability to achieve the dreams otherwise strived for by this budget,” MassBudget said in a statement.

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