Scorecard Update: House Budget and Senate Minimum Wage Votes

( – promoted by Rob “EaBo Clipper” Eno)

Last week, the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance added TWELVE new votes to its legislative scorecard. As noted elsewhere on RMG, the updates have caused many members’ scores to go change, some significantly. In addition, the House votes were the first taken by the four new representatives elected in the April specials.

A brief summary of the new updates appears below, but head on over to our scorecard to see all the details and find out how your representative and senator scores!  

Most of the new votes occurred during the debate over the House budget. They are as follows:

House roll call #335: This vote was on a further amendment to a proposal that would have exempted municipalities from last year’s gas tax increases. The further amendment called for a study of the proposal, but was written in such a way as to ensure that the study will almost certainly never take place. Such “study amendments” allow legislators to avoid taking up-or-down votes on issues where House leadership and public opinion are likely to be out of sync. MassFiscal would have voted NO on the further amendment, which passed 119-32 (D: 119-3; R: 0-29).

House roll call #336: This vote was on a further amendment to a proposal that would have lowered the sales tax back to 5%. Again, the further amendment was on an insincere “study amendment.” MassFiscal would have voted NO on the further amendment, which passed 115-36 (D: 115-7; R: 0-29).

House roll call #337: This vote was on a further amendment to a proposal that would have lowered the income tax back to 5%. Again, the further amendment was on an insincere “study amendment.” MassFiscal would have voted NO on the further amendment, which passed 118-32 (D: 118-3; R: 0-29).

House roll call #338: This vote was on a further amendment to a proposal to clarify the rules regarding sales taxes, so that consumers only pay sales tax on the purchase price of cell phones, rather than the full manufacturer’s suggested retail price. Again, the further amendment was on an insincere “study amendment.” MassFiscal would have voted NO on the further amendment, which passed 104-47. (D: 104-18; R: 0-29)

House roll call #339: This vote was on an amendment to set up a real commission for studying the impact of the inventory tax. MassFiscal would have voted YES on the amendment, which passed 151-0 (D: 122-0; R: 29-0).

House roll call #340: This vote was on an amendment to provide a brief “tax amnesty” window, during which those who owe back taxes would be exempt from late fees. Previous versions of this program have netted over $30 million in additional receipts. MassFiscal would have voted YES on the amendment, which passed 149-1 (D: 120-1; R: 29-0).

House roll call #341: This vote was on an amendment to raise the threshold at which the “death tax,” also known as the estate tax, is imposed. MassFiscal would have voted YES on the amendment, which failed 31-118 (D: 2-118; R: 29-0).

House roll call #346: This vote was on an amendment to provide approximately $250 million to cities and towns for the purpose of property tax relief. MassFiscal would have voted YES on the amendment, which failed 31-119 (D: 2-119; R: 29-0).

House roll call #349: This vote was on an amendment which sought to guarantee that when tax receipts exceed projections, cities and towns will be given 50% of the difference between actual receipts and projections, up to $100 million. MassFiscal would have voted YES on the amendment, which failed 32-119 (D: 3-119; R: 29-0).

House roll call #368: This vote was on final passage of the House version of the budget, as amended, which MassFiscal opposed because it is built on baselines from last year’s tax increases, continues to rely on the rainy-day fund, and fails to rein in spending. The budget passed 148-2 (D: 121-0; R: 27-2).

On the Senate side, there was another debate over the minimum wage last Thursday. MassFiscal scored two votes from that debate:

Senate roll call #292: This vote was on an amendment to remove the linkage between the minimum wage and inflation. MassFiscal would have voted YES on the amendment, which failed 11-27 (D: 7-27; R: 4-0).

Senate roll call #293: This vote was on final passage of a combined Senate plan that would, among other things, raise the minimum wage to $11/hour by 2016, index that wage to inflation, increase the minimum wage for tipped employees, and make a handful of changes to the state’s unemployment insurance system. MassFiscal would have voted NO on the bill, which passed 34-5 (D: 34-1; R: 0-4).

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