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Massachusetts lawmakers need to move on tax cuts, cooperate with audit: MassGOP chair

The state needs to pass a short-term capital gains tax cut offered by the governor and the House if lawmakers want Massachusetts to stay competitive, according to the head of the MassGOP.

Amy Carnevale, the chair of the Massachusetts Republican Party, on Sunday pointed to the state of business sentiment in the Commonwealth — stressing that proposals to lower the tax, from 12% to 5% offered by Gov. Maura Healey and lawmakers, must pass this year if legislators wish for their constituents to stay in the Bay State.

“We’ve seen business confidence in Massachusetts dip now to under 50% when typically it has been in the neighborhood of 60%. So, that’s an indication that our Legislature should be running to act on measures designed to keep businesses and individuals here in this state,” Carnevale said during an interview with WBZ’s Jon Keller.

Alongside the budget proposal offered at the start of her term, the governor unveiled a $742 million tax cut proposal which would lower the capital gains tax, raise the bar for triggering the estate tax and eliminate the tax for households worth less than $3 million, up the rental deduction by $1,000, and double the so-called senior circuit breaker credit from $1,200 to $2,400.

In April, the House offered a similar plan, but the Senate’s version of a tax cut proposal did not include the estimated $117 million in short term capital gains tax cuts seen in the other plans. The Legislature has been working to iron out the differences between their plans — as well as differences in their budget proposals — since the start of summer.

Last year’s effort to lower the same taxes died in conference committee after it was learned the state would need to send about $3 billion back to taxpayers.

How a state controlled entirely by one party can have so much trouble moving forward on a tax cut plan isn’t hard to explain, according to Carnevale.

“It just points to the fact that we do need accountability for our legislative leaders, whether it’s two party government or, right now certainly we don’t have elections coming, but it’s a chance for individuals to voice their concern to our legislative leaders about the impact of not having tax relief at a time when we desperately need it,” she said.

Business confidence turned negative for the first time in years in May and stayed there through June, according to the Associated Industries of Massachusetts’ monthly Business Confidence Index. Employers cited their concerns about a looming recession and their inability to find new workers as the reason for their pessimism.

Carnevale also spoke to attempts by State Auditor Diana DiZoglio to audit the Legislature. House Speaker Ron Mariano and Senate President Karen Spilka have both maintained that DiZoglio does not have the authority to look into their dealings and refused to comply with requests from the auditor’s office.

Last week, DiZoglio called on Attorney General Andrea Campbell to allow her office to sue legislative leaders for their compliance.

“I think the fact that our legislative leaders are pushing back so hard on this audit is an indication that there are issues there,” she said. “These are taxpayer dollars. Our taxpayers should have every right to an audit.”

When asked what she thought if the lawmakers were hiding something, Carnevale said she didn’t know, but that their resistance to the audit is “all the more reason to go forward” to “find out what they are hiding.”

State Auditor Diana DiZoglio last week called on Attorney General Andrea Campbell to allow her office to sue legislative leaders for their compliance. (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm, File)

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