BOSTON — The Massachusetts House overwhelmingly backed a plan to raise the state sales tax from 5 percent to 6.25 percent late last night, despite a last-minute veto threat from Gov. Deval Patrick.
By a 108 to 51 vote, lawmakers approved a plan that some say would raise an additional $900 million annually to help balance the budget as the state grapples with plunging tax collections. The proposal next goes to the Senate.
Earlier in the day, Methuen Mayor William Manzi said hiking the sales tax will be "a job killer and an economic development killer" in communities close to tax-free New Hampshire.
"I'm against it, and I know that will be a minority position amongst mayors," Manzi said .
Manzi said the tax hike would be "exceedingly detrimental" to Methuen. The increase would hurt places like The Loop — a massive shopping center just a short drive from Salem, N.H.
Haverhill Mayor James Fiorentini didn't take a stand on the proposed sales tax increase.
"If they vote for the sales tax, I certainly will not be the slightest bit critical," he said. "We'll wait and see how this plays out. I don't want to get in the middle of which revenue package is better because I frankly don't know. I'm not going to be critical of which solution they come up with, as long as there is a solution."
Gov. Deval Patrick sent lawmakers a letter threatening to veto a sales tax hike unless they approve a series of reforms first.
Patrick has proposed his own tax increases, including raising the state gas tax by 19 cents per gallon, expanding the sales tax to include alcohol, candy and soda, and allowing local communities to increase taxes on restaurant meals and hotel rooms.
State Rep. Linda Dean Campbell, D-Methuen, said she was voting against the sales tax increase. She noted that the old Methuen Mall went under when the Mall at Rockingham Park opened in Salem, N.H.