Republican gubernatorial candidate Charles Baker unveiled a plan Thursday to reduce business taxes, which he said will spur job growth in the state.
In a speech prepared for the pro-business Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, Baker said he wants to lower the tax rate for some corporations from 8.75 percent to 5 percent, phased in over four years.
Baker also proposed extending the number of weeks an employee must work to be eligible for unemployment insurance, from the current 15 to 20. And he said he would like to eliminate a requirement he says punishes smaller businesses that pay higher tax rates as they grow.
Baker aides estimated the plan would cost the state an estimated $175 million per year in tax revenue.
"We have earned our national reputation as one of the most difficult states to operate a business in," Baker said. "We must be willing to make bold moves to improve our business environment."
Baker was the Weld administration's chief budget officer before spending a decade as president of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. He said his goal is to make the state's tax code more "predictable, competitive, and stable," according to an outline of his draft remarks.
Baker is in a four-way race with the Democratic incumbent, Gov. Deval Patrick, and independent Timothy Cahill and Green-Rainbow Party candidate Jill Stein.
Baker took the opportunity to criticize the governor on the state's economy.
"The governor says Massachusetts is on the move and on the mend," Baker said. "I don’t see it."
Baker and Cahill, the state's treasurer, have been competing for fiscally conservative voters, while Patrick has been targeting the small business community with an aggressive push to lower their health insurance premiums.
Cahill says Baker's corporate tax cut plan sounds familiar.
"It sounds exactly like the plan I introduced earlier this year," Cahill said. "In fact, it is the exact same plan, which is to cut taxes across the board to make the state more competitive."
While dwindling tax collections have forced Massachusetts to slash its budget in recent years, both Patrick and Baker have expressed support for a weekend sales tax "holiday" this summer to spur retail sales.
Both candidates did so despite fears the state may have to slash $800 million from its fiscal 2011 budget if expected federal aid does not materialize.
Baker's tax plan also includes a proposal to reduce the income and sales tax to 5 percent, as well as eliminate an expansion of the state's liquor tax made last summer.
"As governor, I will fight to keep every job we have in Massachusetts, and will fight to create a climate conducive to business expansion and investment in order to make Massachusetts work again," Baker said in a statement after a campaign stop Wednesday in Andover.
This program aired on June 10, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.