The Massachusetts Senate this afternoon rejected a Republican amendment to reduce the sales tax from 6.25 percent to 5 percent over the next 14 months.
The amendment – which gained 10 votes of support and 28 opposed -- would have taken the tax down to 5.6 percent on July 1, and then down to 5 percent in July 2012.
The sales tax had been at 5 percent until 2009, when the Legislature raised it to generate money for transportation and other state programs. Governor Deval Patrick signed the increase.
Today's brief debate, part of three days of deliberations over the Senate’s annual spending plan, featured the fundamental arguments between liberals and conservatives.
Senator Bruce Tarr, the Republican leader, argued that a cut would boost the state’s economy and stimulate job growth.
“We can’t afford not to do this,” Tarr said.
Democrats countered it would starve social programs and state services, taking $1 billion out of the budget.
“I’d like to know where we’re going to find that $1 billion,” said Senator Stephen M. Brewer, a Barre Democrat who leads the Senate budget committee.
Earlier, the Senate also rejected a GOP amendment to create a permanent two-day sales tax holiday in August. Senate Democrats said they have passed such holidays in most recent years, but want flexibility in case of a fiscal crunch.
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