Westport’s Sen. Rodrigues on Relief Checks and Economic Development Bill
The recently rediscovered "62F" law that will refund approximately $3 billion in surplus revenue back to the taxpayers of the Commonwealth has caused Beacon Hill to adjust their legislative goals, according to Senate Ways and Means Chair Mike Rodrigues (D-Westport).
Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito recently announced that most eligible taxpayers who filed a tax return in 2021 will see a check or direct deposit in their bank account amounting to 13 percent of what their 2021 tax liability was, and that they can expect this refund by the end of November.
Senator Rodrigues, in a recent in-studio appearance on WBSM's SouthCoast Tonight, questioned the Baker-Polito Administration's legal authority to authorize the 62F refund to come in the form of cash when the law states the refund would be in the form of tax credits against the following year's tax liability.
However, Rodrigues was acceptive of the fact that the refund checks would be sent out and said that it would limit the scope of the major economic development legislation that was shelved on the last day of formal session in July, but he said there was still "a lot of good stuff in the bill."
One of the major questions regarding the legislation is whether or not the relief checks proposed in the original bill would make it into the modified bill.
"That's still yet to be determined; probably not," Rodrigues said. "Because $3 billion worth of checks are going out."
"After the $3 billion gets returned to the taxpayers we are still going to have a Fiscal Year '22 surplus of over $2 billion," Rodrigues added. "The economic development bill totaled over $4 billion and a little over $3billion in cash spent."
Rodrigues said the $1.4 billion in bonding that was included in the original legislation won't get done because bonding, per the Massachusetts Constitution, requires a roll call vote, which can only be done in formal session. Currently, the legislature is in informal session where bills must be passed with unanimous consent.
"I do expect we will able to pass an economic development bill in the neighborhood of maybe $2.5 billion," Rodrigues said. "That's going to have good investments in there, in our hospitals, in our nursing homes, in our human service workforce, in climate change, and energy supports."
Rodrigues stressed the need for investments in hospitals and healthcare organizations. He said that Southcoast Health, the largest healthcare provider in his district and in the region, is projecting a more than $60 million loss this year.
Rodrigues said that the legislation will also bring additional resources to childcare and to addressing the workforce demands of the mental and behavioral health treatment sector now that there is increased bed capacity.
"We've got bed capacity, we just don't have the staff," he said. "So we're focusing on that now."
Listen to Chris and Marcus' interview with Senate Ways and Means Chairman Mike Rodrigues on WBSM's SouthCoast Tonight: