Some Erstwhile Allies Now Seeing Charlie Baker As Tax Man

Printed from:

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker took criticism from two anti-tax groups last week, but so far he isn’t responding.

Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance pointed out that Beacon Hill leaders have proposed myriad new taxes during the past month, including one (on Airbnb rentals) that the state Legislature approved and the governor signed into law.

Baker, a Republican who has governed as a social liberal and a fiscal moderate, last week proposed increasing the excise tax on property deed transfers by 50 percent, with the money to go into a fund designed to address climate change.

“The real estate transfer tax increase is particularly egregious,” said Paul Craney, spokesman for the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance, in a written statement. “I don’t think anyone in this state thinks that our housing costs are reasonable or affordable — no matter what part of the state you live in. This is only going to exacerbate that problem.”

Citizens for Limited Taxation executive director Chip Ford also criticized the proposed increase in the deed transfer tax last week, accusing Baker of “betrayal” and of being “slippery” for campaigning against tax and fee increases as a candidate and then supporting tax increases as governor.

The governor’s press office did not respond to a request for comment last week by New Boston Post.

Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo (D-Winthrop) said that when saw Baker privately last week he “was having a little fun with him” when it comes to all the new taxes in the governor’s budget, according to State House News Service.

Craney, of Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance, called on state officials to avoid tax increases until they rein in increases in spending for MassHealth, the state’s health insurance program for poor people.

“It’s shocking to see leaders on Beacon Hill entertain additional tax increases while reforms to MassHealth seem to be a distant memory,” Craney said in the statement. “MassHealth makes up over 40% of the state budget which is completely unsustainable and needs to be addressed.”

Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance, a conservative fiscal watchdog, endorsed Baker’s bid for re-election in November 2017, a full year before the November 2018 election, which Baker won handily.

Craney pointed out that a report by the Tax Foundation released last week found that Massachusetts now has the fifth highest per capita tax burden in the country, at $6,469.

It’s behind only New York ($8,957), Connecticut ($7,220), New Jersey ($6,709), and North Dakota ($6,630). (But a large portion of North Dakota’s tax burden is on oil and natural gas paid by people who live out of state, notes the Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan research organization with a generally right-of-center approach to tax policy.)

At least eight new taxes have appeared on Beacon Hill in recent times, either as proposals or policy – most during the month. See New Boston Post’s rundown of the taxes here.