The Weekly Political Report is prepared by a political consulting group, Rasky/Baerlein, and shared with me by John Nunnari.
Patrick Administration Outlines Review of State Tax Breaks
Secretary of Administration and Finance, Jay Gonzalez, presented a proposal to the Tax Expenditure Commission on Tuesday that called for tax credits, such as the sales tax exemption on food and clothing, to be assessed every 10 years. Gonzalez recommended that the historic rehabilitation credit, the life science credit, the low-income housing credit, the Economic Development Incentive Program, certified housing development credits, dairy farmer tax credits, and donated land credits be subjected to review and renewal every five years. Any recommendations made by the commission pertaining to sunset provisions would have to be adopted by the Legislature. The Tax Expenditure Commission is due to issue a report with recommendations for how to manage the state’s unequal tax expenditure programs by the end of April.
Senate Postpones Debate on Energy Bill
The Senate began debate on a major energy bill on Thursday. After taking action on a number of amendments, the Senate agreed to postpone further consideration of the energy bill until next Thursday. The proposed amendments to the energy bill that are being debated include doubling the cap on net metering that would allow homeowners, businesses and government agencies to sell additional excess power generated from on-site solar, wind or other renewable energy sources back to the grid at retail cost. The bill will also more than double the amount of renewable energy utility companies will be required to purchase through long-term, competitively bid contracts. Supporters of the bill say it will inject a dose of competition into ramped up state efforts to force utilities to help grow the renewable energy industry and jobs within that sector. Senator Downing (D-Pittsfield), co-chair of the Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy, said some members wanted to take their time on pieces of the bill, particularly how rate review cases are handled by the Department of Public Utilities, net metering, and the central procurement by the state of renewable energy in cases of shortages.
MBTA Fare Hike First Step in Transportation Finance Plan
State leaders took a first step this week in addressing the state’s transportation finance needs. The State’s Transportation Finance Commission has estimated an unmet transportation financing cost of $1 billion dollars per year. Governor Deval Patrick endorsed the MBTA’s fare increase of 23% on Wednesday and has committed to working with legislative leaders on a comprehensive transportation financing package. House Speaker Robert DeLeo said that a discussion of a larger transportation financing package will be one of the first issues the Legislature addresses in the next session.
John Nunnari, Assoc AIA
Executive Director, AIA MA
MA Chapter of American Institute of Architects
290 Congress Street, Suite 200, Boston MA 02110