BOSTON — Less than two months after voting to include it in a $500 million tax hike package, the House voted 156-1 yesterday to repeal the state’s new computer services tax. The Senate is expected to pass the repeal bill today.
During an acrimonious debate focused less on the impacts of the tax and more on revisiting this year’s tax debate, some Democrats criticized Gov. Deval Patrick for recently distancing himself from a tax on computer services that he introduced, others said business leaders had failed to convey their concerns about the tax as it was being approved, and Republicans lashed out at Democrats for failing to heed their warnings about the tax.
Rep. Christopher Fallon, D-Malden, criticized Patrick’s recent claim that he opposed the tech tax, after he included a version of it in the tax bill he filed in early 2013.
“I am going to accuse the Corner Office of being a hypocrite. I am going to accuse the Corner Office of playing politics with our speaker, Hell, with all of us,” Fallon said. “He vetoed it because he wanted more money from us, and we had the stamina, we had the backbone, to tell him, ‘We are taking a leap of faith. We know we’ve got to fund some of the line items, but we are not going to put the people of Massachusetts in that type of economic bind.’ We said no to him.”
Rep. Angelo Scaccia, a Democrat from Readville, voted against the repeal. Scaccia said House Speaker Robert DeLeo would regret backing away from the tax, suggesting it might cost him future political capital.
“Mr. Speaker I’m not a revisionist, but I do revisit every once in a while because I’ve had some history here. You are going to rue the day when you have gotten something and then have given it back for nothing,” Scaccia said on the House floor. “If in fact we run into problems down the road, I don’t know if you can ask your membership to vote green on a tax package again.”
Without the computer services tax, there is $340 million left in the tax package the Legislature approved in late July to pay for investments in transportation and other budget accounts.
House budget chief Brian Dempsey, D-Haverhill, said the business community initially supported the tax, but later changed their minds. Dempsey said when lawmakers passed the tech tax - expected to generate $160 million - they vowed to revisit its impact. He said the “outcry” against the tax from businesses did not come until mid-May.