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Do Massachusetts lawmakers have tax increases on their radar?

Massachusetts House Speaker Ron Mariano on taxes, Steward health and more
Massachusetts House Speaker Ron Mariano on taxes, Steward health and more 09:24

BOSTON – Despite an April revenue haul that exceeded forecasts, there is still anxiety on Beacon Hill about overall revenue shortfalls and economic uncertainty. So are new taxes on the mind of House Speaker Ron Mariano?

Mariano sat down with WBZ-TV for an interview one week after Sen. President Karen Spilka said new taxes were not on her radar screen "right now."

"I don't even have a radar screen," Mariano said. "What I have is the situation as it exists today. You know, we did a major tax cut probably the biggest tax cut we've done in the last 20 years and we did it because we wanted to improve our competitiveness. So we need to have that play out. That we are retaining people, that college kids graduating stay in the state."

Could Massachusetts raise commercial tax rates?

However, Mariano seemed unmoved by Boston Mayor Michelle Wu's home rule petition for legislative permission to potentially raise commercial tax rates to handle forecast shortfalls from the collapse of commercial real estate values.

"She hasn't had a vote in the City Council on her petition, which I think is kind of telling. If it was that good of an idea, you'd think that [would already be] getting implemented. I don't think that there's a real appetite right now from anyone to talk about increased revenues at all," Mariano said.

Does that extend to the proposal Gov. Maura Haley announced back in January to give more leeway to cities and towns to increase local option taxes on hotel rooms, meals and car purchases?

"I'm not a big fan of any of these," Mariano said. "We'll go talk to the people who presented them, but I have a healthy skepticism on how valuable they are."

Response to Steward health scandal

And Mariano offered a preview of major healthcare legislation he's proposing in response to the Steward Hospital scandal, where alleged mismanagement has made key company officials rich while pushing numerous local hospitals to the brink of closure.

"We're going to try and make sure that we close all the loopholes that Steward was able to take advantage of," says Mariano. "For instance, we're not going to let a hospital sell off its property out from underneath the building. And we are certainly going to tighten up the transparency, looking into the books of companies that are going to do business."

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