State Senate Approves New Taxes

The Massachusetts Senate voted during the week of May 18 to increase the sales tax, approve a tax on alcohol and authorize municipalities to levy additional taxes on meals and hotel stays, as well as telecommunications equipment. The new revenues are expected to bring in an estimated $1 billion a year. At a time when the state budget deficit is estimated at more than $5 billion, such measures are necessary to offset deep cuts to public education and other essential services.

"I appreciate the senators who voted in favor of new revenues for the Commonwealth," Massachusetts Teachers Association President Anne Wass said. "In this difficult economic environment, our state leaders are being forced to make hard choices about how to pay for important state services. While it is never popular to support additional taxes, especially when many people are struggling, we must do all that we can to stave off some of the cuts that will hurt our students and public schools for years to come."

The Senate votes took place during debate on the state budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins on July 1.

Earlier this spring, the House of Representatives approved an increase in the sales tax.