Tax breaks add up to big money
Thursday, March 22, 2012
“Too complicated, too big.”
Those were the words the Tax Expenditure Commission
used to describe the tangle of tax breaks that amount to over $26 billion, or more in foregone tax revenue than the state takes in each year, according to the State House News Service. The commission was convened
to study the financial impact of the credits and exemptions, and is expected to release a final report next month.
The State House News also reported
that the commission would recommend a reduction in the number of tax breaks the state offers, but would likely decline to specify which credits should go, citing the complexity of the current system. The commission may recommend that lawmakers consider them one by one.
The recommendation would set the stage for a series of battles with those industries that benefit from the credits and exemptions. In 2010, when lawmakers were considering whether to alter the state’s film tax credit,
a hearing on the matter
played out in a predictably dramatic fashion, complete with industry activists dressed in costume
. Similar revision efforts were blocked
by the state’s aviation industry.
in the Lowell Sun
and Fitchburg Sentinel and Enterprise
yesterday voiced support for the commission’s forthcoming recommendation, while cautioning that lawmakers should focus on reforms that would both promote equity and produce a large benefit to the state.
Tax breaks were traditionally a good way for bipartisan “spending” on projects and issues important to state leaders: Republicans could get behind a reduction in taxes, while Democrats could steer cash towards industries without a subsidy. They became controversial, however, when large tax breaks for companies like Evergreen Solar
failed to produce promised benefits to the state.
Interestingly, the most controversial tax credits make up a small fraction of the so-called tax expenditure budget
. The majority of credits represent long-established tax exemptions, such as sales tax exemptions on food, clothing, and services.
State House News reports that previous efforts at simplifying the tax code have failed, but with Gov. Deval Patrick
lately clamoring to extract new revenue from an unwilling Legislature
, closing tax breaks could be an issue that gains steam. --CHRISTINA PRIGNANO BEACON HILL
A sick-time leave bill advances
which, if passed, may provide relief to the nearly 1 million people who do not have access to paid time off for illness.Eugene O’Flaherty
, the House chairman of the Judiciary Committee, says he’ll step down
from the post at the end of the year, citing the blistering he took in this piece
columnist Kevin Cullen
Rep. Alice Wolf
, the long-time darling of Cambridge liberals, won’t seek
reelection. No word as to whether Kevin Cullen is to blame.
With attempts at finding a legislative solution receding, the automobile right-to-repair
issue appears poised for a ballot initiative.David Bernstein wishes
a happy anniversary to Senate President Therese Murray
, and notes it’s been five years since Murray last spoke to him.
’s Joe Battenfeld pays a visit
to the empty Worcester
still has to staff the abandoned, money-losing facility, per FAA
regulations. Meanwhile, a charter airline that flies out of the Worcester airport has gone bankrupt and owes Massport more than $80,000, reports
the Worcester Telegram and Gazette
At least 10 people in Bridgewater
say they were duped into signing a recall petition
to remove two town councilors.
The Swansea Recreation Commission
, which has had more than its share of problems of infighting and attempts at reorganization, is facing more turmoil with one member facing a disciplinary hearing
and revelations that an unopposed candidate for a seat has a recent felony conviction
mother organized a playground cleanup
after her one-year-old son picked up a syringe while playing in the Strawberry Avenue park.
Districts in Rockport
are among the first officially designated “cultural districts” in the state. Three others were designated in Boston
, and Pittsfield
, the Gloucester Times reports
. An editorial
in the paper outlines the potential benefits to Gloucester and elsewhere.Wilfredo Laboy,
the former Lawrence
school superintendent on trial for fraud and embezzlement, yesterday testified in his own defense, the Lawrence Eagle Tribune reports
A bid to roll back the closing hours of Lawrence
bars by an hour on Friday nights was defeated
after a vote by the two-member Licensing Board ended in a tie. NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON
The Weekly Standard
has a behind-the-doors look at the battle by the Koch brothers
to gain control of the libertarian Cato Institute
think tank.Gail Collins
that the National Rifle Association
is running out of things to lobby for.
The Atlantic visualizes
what Rep. Paul Ryan
’s budget means, and, if Ryan’s numbers are correct, it involves putting most of the federal government out of business. ELECTION 2012
Hub Kid Steps in Doo: Eric Fehrnstorm
, and the sentiment behind it, won’t come as any surprise here in the Bay State. Now Rick Santorum
and Newt Gingrich
are toting the toys
around on the campaign trail
and the Democratic National Committee has its own video.
Good work, Eric! U.S. News & World Report
gathers its “Debate Club” to ponder if Mitt Romney’s foes can force a brokered convention
despite his commanding delegate lead. The tally is 5-1 they can’t, though the one “yes” claims Romney is a liberal. Nate Silver
does a whole bunch of math and all but calls
the GOP nomination for Romney.
The Wall Street Journal spotlights
billionaire who’s pumping huge sums of money into anti-Obama
super PACs. And speaking of super PACs, the one supporting Newt Gingrich is almost broke
About 1,000 commercial fishermen from around the country rallied in Washington
to call attention to the plight of the industry sinking under increased regulations and quotas.BUSINESS/ECONOMY
The CEO of OneUnited Bank, Kevin Cohee
, is hard to find
as the very public showdown between his bank at Roxbury’s Charles Street AME Church
The country’s remaining subprime lender races
NPR’s Morning Edition examines
why US demand for gasoline
has been slowing since 2007.EDUCATION
The state inspector general
for the past 15 months has been quietly investigating the handling of contract awards by the Brockton school system
dating back to 2004.
The Lowell School Committee is considering
ending the practice of ranking high school students due to concern that colleges place too much emphasis on a student’s performance relative to his or her classmates.HEALTH CARE
The state Public Health Council is mounting a campaign
to convince the Legislature to ban the sale of tobacco products at pharmacies. TRANSPORTATION
A station wagon slammed into a school bus in Marshfield
seriously injuring the two women in the car, but police say the 11 preschool children on the bus were unharmed because it was equipped with seat belts and harnesses
, a rarity on school buses.ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT
A snowless winter has put fire officials across the state on high alert
over the threat of forest fires.CRIMINAL JUSTICE
The Cambridge Chronicle
dives into the uncertainty surrounding the Middlesex County Jail. The state is shutting the facility down
and selling the Cambridge building, but still doesn’t have a replacement facility lined up. Catherine Greig
’s twin sister allegedly liquidated bank accounts belonging to the mob boss’s girlfriend, and now nearly $20,000 is missing
, according to federal prosecutors. MEDIA
The Nieman Journalism Lab analyzes Gawker’s
strategy of mixing thoughtful content with pieces written primarily to chase pageviews.