Mass. Lawmakers Pledge $250 Checks For Middle-Income Residents

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BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Mass. state lawmakers have a plan to burn off some of the state's large tax revenue surplus: $250 checks to a wide swath of Massachusetts earners, with $500 to families.

The checks would only go out to those who earn between $38,000 and $100,000 on their own or $150,000 for joint tax filers.

House Speaker Ron Mariano and Senate President Karen Spilka said the checks were intended to help residents pay for the increased cost of goods and fuel because of high inflation. The Beacon Hill leaders said the "Taxpayer Energy and Economic Relief Fund" is supposed to get around "large oil companies that continue to profit off of economic uncertainty and international conflict."

The plan has attracted a range of criticism from both right and left-leaning policy groups.

The progressive Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center says the checks will miss the state's most needy residents — those not making at least $38,000 a year. Marie-Frances Rivera, president of the Center, said some of the money designated for this plan could also be used to invest in transit, schools and childcare.

"We have a finite amount of money, and it's really on us as policy makers to make sure that we're addressing the current needs of folks in the Commonwealth," she said.

The Mass. Fiscal Alliance, a conservative economic policy group, called the checks a "poorly thought-out gimmick" ahead of this year's midterm elections and said it was "picking winners and losers through arbitrary brackets."

The plan would cost about $510 million, according to the State House New Service.

When asked about the plan, Governor Baker's office said it would "carefully consider any tax relief proposal" that makes it to the governor's desk.

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