Mass. House Lawmakers Vote To Repeal 'Tech Tax'

The Massachusetts House voted Wednesday to repeal an unpopular new technology tax on computer and software services.

The House vote was 156-1. The Senate is expected to vote on repealing the tax when senators come back into session Thursday.

Gov. Deval Patrick is open to repealing the tax, which state officials had estimated would generate $161 million in the fiscal year that began July 1. The governor said Wednesday that he's waiting to see what House and Senate leaders do to close the gap that repeal would leave in the budget.

Asked if he would veto the repeal if it didn't include additional revenues, Patrick said: "That's not where I am."

"They know what we have to deal with. I can't deal with it without them so I'm waiting to see what they do," he said. "Whether they do it all today or do it over the next several months, remains to be seen."

House Speaker Robert DeLeo has said that no new taxes will be proposed to make up for the revenue. He's also said he anticipates no budget cuts.

DeLeo said Wednesday that he was proud of the repeal vote, which "sends a strong message to the world that Massachusetts is the place for innovators to succeed and thrive."

Democratic Rep. Angelo Scaccia of Boston, the sole lawmaker to vote against repeal, said lawmakers shouldn't give up what they had worked hard to approve. He said it's not fair to raise taxes on smokers by hiking the cigarette tax while repealing a tax on businesses. The same transportation finance bill that included the technology tax also included higher taxes on gasoline and cigarettes.

Republicans, who had held public meetings to help bolster opposition to the tax, quickly took credit for the about-face.

"We told you so. We told you in April. We told you in May. We told you in June," said Rep. George Peterson, the assistant Republican leader from Grafton, responding to claims by Democratic leaders that they were unaware of any strong opposition to the tax until after it was approved.

House Republican leader Rep. Brad Jones called the repeal bittersweet because it is "only undoing a stupid thing we did six weeks ago."

But Rep. Joseph Wagner, a Chicopee Democrat, bristled at the comment.

"It wasn't a stupid thing we did trying to fix the transportation problems in Massachusetts," said Wagner, who criticized Republicans for not supporting any new revenue.

DeLeo said after the tax was passed that he listened to business leaders about the burden it would put on the industry.

"Our strong commitment to business and the innovation economy led to its repeal," he said in a statement.

This article was originally published on September 25, 2013.

This program aired on September 25, 2013. The audio for this program is not available.


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