BOSTON (WHDH) - The full House gave initial approval Tuesday to a fiscal 2021 state budget without making revenue-related changes to the plan recommended by the Ways and Means Committee, sticking to plans to rely on one-time funding sources like the state‘s stabilization fund and federal aid to bridge a big gap between spending and recurring revenues.
Lawmakers filed 25 revenue-related amendments to the budget but for the most part opted not to push for any public debate or votes on their proposed changes.
Two were rejected, one pulled by its sponsor after a floor speech, and the rest were withdrawn without public discussion or a vote.
“We have a balanced budget with no major cuts in this budget, something that none of us thought was possible going back to the beginning of this pandemic in March,” Revenue Co-Chairman Mark Cusack said in opposition to an unsuccessful amendment (675) that would have raised the tax rate on unearned income from 5 percent to 9 percent.
That amendment was filed by Rep. Mike Connolly and was the subject of one of two roll call votes during the first few hours of session.
The only other roll call vote came at the start when lawmakers indicated their presence. Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier spoke in support of Connolly’s amendment, which failed 30-127, and for “revenue in general,” arguing the state has raised new revenue, including broad-based taxes, “following every recession of the last few decades.”
“And honestly, failing to do so now would be the unprecedented thing,” she said during a virtual floor speech. ” … We are going to be digging out for several years to come and in order to address the coming shortfall, we need to raise revenue or we will be facing cuts. We must, we must make choices that lead to a faster recovery.”
At 1 p.m., lawmakers were privately discussing amendments related to education, local aid, transportation, social services, an d veterans. In lieu of the typical huddle that takes place in a room adjacent to the House Chamber, legislators were pitching and privately debating amendments virtually, in what was described Tuesday afternoon as Room 348 Zoom
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