House rejects series of tax relief proposals, including gas tax holiday

BOSTON — House Democrats shot down a series of Republican-led attempts to add tax breaks into the annual state budget, voting Monday to reject a proposed two-month holiday for the 24-cents-per-gallon gas tax and a trio of other tax reforms.

The House voted 32-124, mostly along party lines, against a Rep. Paul Frost amendment to the fiscal 2023 budget that would have paused collection of the gas tax for 60 days. Frost said he aimed for the suspension to take place during the summer months, when many Massachusetts families are traveling and the Bay State’s tourism business surges.

Frost’s amendment called for the state to use money from its General Fund to cover transportation costs funded by the gas tax, such as road and bridge maintenance, during the two-month holiday.

“That two months can make a world of difference for families who are struggling to pay higher prices at the grocery store, higher prices for goods and services, who are paying higher prices to drive to work,” Frost said on the House floor.

Legislative Democrats for weeks have resisted calls to lift the gas tax on a short-term basis amid surging prices at the pump and soaring inflation elsewhere.

Rep. William Straus, a Mattapoisett Democrat who co-chairs the Transportation Committee, said Frost’s proposal would have amounted to a break of tens of millions of dollars per month for “Big Oil” rather than for individual taxpayers.

The House also rejected a trio of amendments from Southwick Republican Rep. Nicholas Boldyga that aimed to weave some of Gov. Charlie Baker’s proposed tax breaks into the budget.

Revenue Committee Co-chair Rep. Mark Cusack, a Braintree Democrat, noted the governor’s broader $700 million tax relief package (H 4361) is still under review by his panel and called Boldyga’s amendments “premature” without specifying any House plans to take up tax relief.

Representatives voted 31-125 to reject Boldyga’s senior circuit breaker tax credit amendment, 30-126 to reject his estate tax amendment, and 29-127 to reject his capital gains tax amendment.

The House on Monday kicked off several days of full formal sessions to work through more than 1,500 proposed changes to the $49.6 billion House Ways and Means Committee budget, which carries a bottom line nearly $1.4 billion higher than the version Baker filed in January.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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