Editor's Note: Information is coming in slowly as we try to start this column, but for our first installment, State Senator Jamie Eldridge's office has graciously provided us with the details of what he voted for and against last week.
The Senate voted unanimously Thursday to pass a spending bill that allocates $153 million for state budget accounts and adds $350 million into the rainy day fund. Highlights of this supplemental budget include:
-$6.2 million to assist communities affected by the ice storm from March of 2008, and $2.8 million to assist communities affected by last year’s flooding.
- $12 million for trial court administration, with language delaying any court closures or relocations until the new civil court administrator is appointed.
- $9.5 million to temporarily expand the state’s Low Income Housing Tax Credit.
- $8.2 million for the DTA clothing allowance, which will allow DTA to continue to provide a full $150 clothing allowance to children in extremely poor families.
- $7.8 million to address other human service cuts from last year’s budget, including funding to mitigate cuts to rape crisis centers, the Department of Children and Families, and the Department of Youth Services
- $6 million to ensure that the state maintains its policy of 10 day bed holds for MassHealth nursing home patients.
Senator Eldridge voted YES on the supplemental budget.
The Senate continued debate on the expanded gambling bill yesterday. Amendments voted on by the Senate include:
- AMENDMENT 102, ADDITIONAL FUNDING FOR COMMUNITY MITIGATION – This amendment, which was offered by Senator Eldridge, would have raised the tax rate on casinos from 25% to 30%, and dedicated the extra funding to community mitigation. The amendment failed, 9-27. Senator Eldridge voted YES.
- AMENDMENT 166 – CATEGORY 2 LICENSES: This would have removed the license for a slot parlor in the casino bill. The amendment failed, 12-24. Senator Eldridge voted YES.
- AMENDMENT 37 – JOBS INCENTIVE TAX CREDIT: This amendment would create a tax credit for employers who have a net increase in jobs created over the course of a calendar year. Such employers are thus entitled to a deduction in liability otherwise imposed by Chapter 62B, Section 2. To defray the potential cost of the tax revenue not collected by the state, 10% of category 1 gaming revenue currently slated to be spent by the Economic Development Fund would be deposited in the General Fund. This amendment failed, 4-32. Senator Eldridge voted NO.
- AMENDMENT 40 – STABILIZATION FUND: This amendment would delay the transfer of state revenues from category 1 gaming to the various funds provided for in Section 59. Rather than transfer the revenue to the funds immediately, as the bill does, this amendment provides that the funds go into the Stabilization Fund (Rainy Day Fund) until all 4 of the gaming establishments have been in operation for 5 years. This amendment failed, 4-32. Senator Eldridge voted NO.
- AMENDMENT 87 – SALES TAX REDUCTION: The bill as being considered provides that a combined 12% of the state revenues from category 1 licenses shall be transferred to a newly created Economic Development Fund and the newly created Local Capital Projects Fund. That money instead will be placed in the General Fund, and used to help ensure revenue neutrality when reducing the state sales tax, currently at 6.25%, to 5 percent. This reduction will take place in a two-step process, with the first reduction cutting the sales tax to 5.625 percent, and then another reduction to 5 percent. This amendment failed, 9-27. Senator Eldridge voted NO.