Massachusetts Speaker DeLeo, Following GOP Criticism, Rules Out New “Broad-Based” Taxes

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By Colin Young

BOSTON — Two days after saying it was “much too early” to talk about whether the upcoming state budget would include any new or increased taxes, House Speaker Robert DeLeo on Wednesday ruled out proposing new taxes.

“The House will not be proposing any new broad-based taxes in its budget,” DeLeo said in a statement Wednesday.

His comments were first reported by the Boston Globe, which was granted an interview with the speaker. DeLeo’s office told the News Service the speaker was not available Wednesday and did not respond when asked what had changed in the 48 hours since DeLeo told reporters it was “much too early to discuss that at all” when asked Monday afternoon about the possibility of new taxes or tax hikes in fiscal 2019.

The Massachusetts Republican Party seized upon DeLeo’s Monday comment.

“Beacon Hill Democrats just won’t learn — after a year where they achieved next to nothing except a massive pay hike for themselves, they’re already floating the idea of new taxes on hardworking families,” MassGOP Chairman Kirsten Hughes said in a statement Tuesday.

DeLeo’s comments came two weeks before the deadline for Gov. Charlie Baker to file his fiscal 2019 budget proposal. The House Ways and Means Committee, newly helmed by Rep. Jeffrey Sánchez of Jamaica Plain, will put forward its own version next, followed by the Senate.

It is unlikely lawmakers would have considered raising state taxes this year, one in which every state-level elected official is up for re-election. At the same time, a proposal to institute a 4 percent surtax on income above $1 million is headed for the 2018 ballot, having been advanced by the Legislature, along with a pitch to cut the state sales tax from 6.25 percent to 5 percent.