The Looming Tax-Policy Storm And How To Avoid It

BOSTON, MA (WBZ-AM) -- Tax policy votes at the State House tend to follow a familiar partisan pattern.

But Tuesday, seven Democrats joined with Republicans to support a weekend sales tax holiday in August to give retailers a boost during back-to-school shopping season. The measure still lost, but it gave Beacon Hill a taste of what might lie ahead if voters get to shape tax policy for themselves in November.

Labor, liberals, and social-service advocates have joined together to push for three potential ballot questions, mandating paid family and medical leave for workers, a phased-in $15 an hour minimum wage, and the so-called Millionaires Tax, a four percent hike on seven-figure incomes. They have vowed to kill a move by the Retailers Association of Massachusetts to cut the sales tax from 6.25% to five percent.

Business interests and their supporters are equally intent on curbing or squelching the other side’s initiatives.

At the urging of legislative leaders, both sides are supposedly engaged in negotiations aimed at avoiding bringing any of these issues to the ballot, and if they’re smart, they’ll find a way.

Our little corner of paradise is an expensive place to live and do business, if you hadn’t noticed. Working-class people need the higher wages and support the liberal measures provide; businesses need more consumer spending and better profit margins.

I bet those seven Democrats who voted off the party reservation see both sides of the arguments.

 If the parties involved can’t do the same, the voters may wind up making decisions neither side likes.

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