HEADLINES : Massachusetts
Massachusetts House kills plan to cut the state sales tax as budget debate begins
The Massachusetts House of Representatives killed a Republican measure to lower the state sales tax to 5 percent early this afternoon, instead voting 119-37 to send the proposal to a study commission.
The measure would have reduced the rate to 5 percent, phased in over a three-year period, beginning in July 2013. Three years ago, lawmakers increased the sales tax from 5 percent to 6.25 percent. At the time, some said it was a temporary increase.
The latest sales tax question was the first measure debated among 870 amendments filed to the House budget that lawmakers began considering today. House members expect to vote on the full $32.3 billion budget later this week. Few amendments have passed today. Most have been dismissed with a voice vote, without even an explanation of their intent.
Republicans were eager to force a vote on the tax measure in an election year. But Democrats -- who have overwhelming control of the House -- used a common procedural tactic to kill the measure, sending it out for further study.
House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo was careful to avoid including any new fees or taxes in the House proposal, even as Governor Deval Patrick had written some into his budget plan.