During his annual address to the House Speaker Robert DeLeo, who was not been shy about aggressively pushing to legalize gaming in Massachusetts, sought to assure his colleagues and critics that his focus on job creation extends beyond casinos.
DeLeo told House members that he would look to find opportunities in the Commonwealth to create a friendlier business climate. Recently, House Republicans have expressed frustration with the pace of House initiatives aimed at job creation, and have even created a coalition to move key legislation out of Committee. Minority Leader Representative Brad Jones expressed hope that the Speaker will be receptive to a jobs bill they plan to outline.
Speaker DeLeo also ruled out using any new taxes or fees to balance next year’s budget, an approach that could scuttle the cigarette tax hike and other targeted fee increases recommended by Governor Deval Patrick in his proposed 2013 fiscal budget.
Governor Patrick’s budget proposal for fiscal 2013 includes $260 million in new revenue from a 50-cent increase in the cigarette tax, the application of the sales tax to candy and soda, an expansion of the bottle bill and other revenue-generating proposals. Senate President Therese Murray has not issued a direct a denunciation of new taxes, but as a rule the Senate cannot initiate revenue proposals.
The other major section of his speech focused on high cost of health care and his belief that consensus can be reached this session to overhaul the payment system without jeopardizing access to the highest quality of care for patients.