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Face-to-face: Senate President Karen Spilka addresses some of tax relief plan’s biggest critics

By Erin Tiernan-with help from Keith Regan | MASSterList

Today’s News

Hours before Senate Democrats bring their scaled-back version of tax relief to the chamber floor, Senate President Karen Spilka will come face-to-face with some of the bill’s biggest critics.

The Ashland Democrat is slated to speak at a Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce forum this morning where she’ll take questions from business leaders upset over the Senate relief package’s snub of a proposed cut to the state’s short-term capital gains tax rate that was pitched earlier this year by Gov. Maura Healey and approved by the House. It would drop rates from 12 percent to 5 percent.

For a legislative body and leader with a reputation for secrecy, the address to business leaders could be the closest thing to public debate that happens on Thursday.

The House passed its own $1.1 billion version of tax relief unaltered, unanimously and with little public debate back in April. But regardless of what passes the Senate, business leaders said they have no intention of backing down on demands they say are necessary to preserve and expand Massachusetts’s competitiveness.

Greater Boston Chamber President and CEO Jim Rooney ticked off a laundry list of pro-business tax policies and rebates where he hopes to see movement — including the short-term capital gains cut. 

The tax relief debate heads to conference committee after the Senate holds its vote. A final compromise bill will be hashed out behind closed doors by a group of six House and Senate members and business leaders plan to lobby lawmakers til the bitter end.

Rooney told MASSterList he will “continue to advocate for tax relief that ensures that employers – the Commonwealth’s job creators – see the state as a viable place to start and grow their business.”

Jon Hurst of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts said there’s “still enough time for a give-and-take and horse-trading… The final say certainly isn’t (Thursday),” Hurst said.

Elizabeth Mahoney of the Massachusetts High Technology Council wants to ask Spilka what her plans are to improve competitiveness for state businesses. “We’re concerned,” Mahoney said.

But not everyone’s convinced the capital gains cut would be a boon to Bay State businesses. An analysis by the Massachusetts Budget & Policy Center found the highest-income 1 percent of households would receive an estimated 77 percent of short-term capital gains cuts – an average of over $7,000 apiece and serve to widen racial wealth gaps. 

The Healey administration estimates the annual revenue loss from its short-term capital gains tax proposal at $117 million.

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