After an absence from the state house, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick said the tech tax in his state is "very concerning" and that he will look to meet with business owners and legislators to discuss possible solutions to the problem.
Before a group of reporters Wednesday, Patrick said the tax "projects something I think was not intended by the legislature."
However, some legislators aren't buying the sudden change of heart.
"I had to keep from spitting my coffee out," Rep. Matthew Beaton said about the governor's comments. "I can't even believe that someone in his position could say something like that. That's just telling of what the mind-set is: He doesn't care what's going on and the jobs that will be lost."
Patrick originally vetoed the transportation bill, which included the highly controversial tax on software services, because he did not think it was "good enough" to cover all the needs of the state and calling it a "missed opportunity." However, in the same July statement explaining his veto, which was ultimately overridden by the legislature, he praised the legislature for taking the steps it did.
"It provides some short-term resources to deal with our most pressing needs. It responds to a key priority of my administration and will stimulate many jobs. I thank the legislature for that," Patrick said in the statement.
Patrick's original budget called for collecting $1.9 billion in new state revenue by raising the income tax and lowering the sales tax. The money would have been used to pump funds into state transportation and education. While the sales tax would have been lowered to 4.5 percent from 6.25 percent in the governor's proposal, adding a tax on software services was estimated to raise approximately $265 million in new revenue.
Beaton said that he thinks the latest comments are a ploy to get on the winning side of the issue for the upcoming elections.
"This is the interesting thing: They have nothing to say. Now that we're getting closer to repeal, they're running out of options," Beaton said.
Rep. Bradford Hill admitted that he didn't know himself what ramifications the tax would have on the business community in the state. However, he said that is one of the reasons he voted against it.
"This has turned into political football and it's affecting more people," Hill said of the situation.
Beaton said he is hopeful that those "seeing the light" will repeal the tax before too much damage has been done.
"Time will tell if the repeal is serious," Beaton said.
PUBLISHED SEPT. 2, 2013