Baker offers tax breaks for the poor and working class in his latest State of the Commonwealth address
In his last official speech as governor, Charlie Baker, sometimes the only effective Republican voice in Beacon Hill, came as close to his party’s conservative principles as he has in the past seven years, calling for tax relief for Massachusetts families, the state’s poorest residents and those suffering from the high cost of housing.
Baker used his final “state of the art” to preview the budget proposal he will take to lawmakers on Wednesday, which calls for deep tax cuts for the working class and middle class.
“To encourage our citizens to continue living in Massachusetts and to help those struggling to make ends meet due to rising inflation, we will be tabling several tax relief items in our budget proposal later this week.” , Baker said.
Baker’s time in office coincided with record costs for private home sales and rents for tenants climbing to unseen heights.
The governor credited his administration’s fiscal discipline with positioning the state to be able to offer tax relief, or as he called it, “tax fairness.” When he began his first term in 2015, Baker said, the state budget was facing a $1 billion deficit and the Rainy Day Stabilization Fund had been depleted after being used to recover. of the Great Recession.
“This rainy day fund grew from $1 billion to $5 billion – among the largest financial safety nets in the country,” during his tenure, Baker added.
Baker delivered his final State of the Commonwealth address at the Hynes Convention Center instead of the traditional House chamber setting. The venue was an improvement on the occasion last year, which saw the governor speak from behind a lectern in the corner office of the State House.
The coming period of legislative crisis is Baker’s last window of opportunity to reform the mental and behavioral health system in Massachusetts. The governor agrees with Senate Speaker Karen Spilka on broad outlines of strengthening the care system with more providers, better access and better insurance coverage for behavioral health care, but the House disagrees. has yet to weigh in with its own plan.
“The health system does not value behavioral health services, primary care and geriatric services. As a result, there are huge staffing and shortages of medical personnel in exactly the areas of care that we need most,” Baker said, calling on the Legislature to pass a behavioral health review this session.
Much of Baker’s speech was framed as a contrast to how national leaders in Congress and other states conduct themselves. The only major Republican to actively shape state policy, Baker has always made a point of thanking the Democratic leaders with whom he works.
“At a time when much of our public dialogue is designed to destroy trust, manipulate facts and separate people, we have partnered with each other and shared success and blame along the way,” said said Baker.
Baker made another appeal to the lethargic Democratic Legislature, asking them to pass his package of bills to crack down on those charged with violent crimes and allowed pre-trial release, as well as the so-called “revenge porn” law which would make it illegal to share someone else’s explicit content without their consent.
“We have introduced bills to deal with these issues three times, without success. The time to do something about this is long past,” Baker said.