BOSTON — As lawmakers prepared to meet Thursday, Senate Minority Leader Bruce E. Tarr urged them to swiftly reach agreement and act on Gov. Charlie Baker’s new bill to suspend the sales tax Aug. 19 and 20.
Waiting until after lawmakers recessed for the summer, the Republican governor on Wednesday filed legislation (HD 4184) establishing a sales tax holiday on the third weekend in August. The bill received a chilly reception from legislative leaders who pointed to sluggish growth in revenue collections, but did not rule out adopting the measure.
Tarr, R-Gloucester, who heads the Senate’s six-person Republican caucus, said in a statement he hopes Baker’s bill advances “over the next several days” in informal sessions.
The Legislature this month is meeting only in informal sessions, where one member’s objection can hold up a bill. Baker’s bill is filed with the House.
“With a state budget approaching $40 billion and no formal sessions of the House or Senate scheduled for August, the marketplace awaits an accord among legislators,” Tarr said. “Many people across the Commonwealth are hoping that we succeed.”
Bills establishing permanent sales tax holidays are before the Economic Development and Revenue committees. House Minority Leader Brad Jones’ bill (H 1548) to hold the holiday Aug. 12 and 13 is also before the Revenue Committee.
Revenue Committee co-chairman Rep. Jay Kaufman said Wednesday sales tax holidays are a “gimmick” and holding one this year would be a “colossal mistake.” He said his committee does not have plans to vote on its sales tax holiday bills. Rep. Joseph Wagner, co-chairman of the Economic Development Committee, has said he personally likes the idea of sales tax holidays but could not speak for other committee members.