OPINION | Barry Richard: Baker’s Attempt To Save Sales Free Tax Weekend Is Doomed
Any last minute hope of reviving a sales tax free weekend this year has apparently fizzled. Governor Charlie Baker proposed legislation this week to waive the state's 6.25 percent sales tax the weekend of August 19-20 but lawmakers have balked.
State Representative Tony Cabral (D) New Bedford told me at the feast last night not to expect lawmakers to return to formal session to consider the legislation. The State House News Service reports this morning that the Governor's bill was shipped yesterday to a committee whose chair has called the idea a "colossal mistake." Both chambers then recessed formal session until sometime after Labor Day.
I spoke with Baker last night about the sales tax free weekend and he said his legislation could be dealt with in informal session. Baker said;
"Merchants have expressed a lot of interest in this."
Baker told me the sales tax free weekend has been popular with shoppers;
"People appreciate the opportunity to go out and buy stuff without having to send something back to the state." "I think it's a great opportunity to give them a chance."
Merchants have appreciated the sales tax free weekend as well. It drives business into their stores during an otherwise quiet time of the year. Statistics have shown that the sales tax free weekend has helped spur back to school sales and may actually help launch the Christmas shopping season as well.
The sales tax free weekend has been held 11 of the last 13 years. This would mark the second consecutive year without it. Lawmakers say it would cost the state some 26 million dollars in lost revenue. Can't do that, how would we fund their pay raises?
Another good question is why did Baker wait until it was clear that the sales tax free weekend was not going to happen before advocating for it? Is the good governor trying to have it both ways?
Editor's Note: Barry Richard is the afternoon host on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from Noon-3pm. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.