State Capitol Briefs – Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015

Photo: Thinkstock




Tax collections during January rose 6.1 percent over January 2014 and totaled $2.58 billion, according to Department of Revenue figures released Wednesday. The collections were $97 million above benchmarks used to assemble the fiscal 2015 budget, which is about three quarters of a billion dollars out of balance. Tax collections over the first seven months of the fiscal year are up 4.5 percent and $79 million over benchmarks. After asserting spending problems are at the heart of budget troubles, Gov. Charlie Baker on Tuesday outlined plans to close a $768 million state budget gap, leaning on spending reductions but also including expectations of new revenues. January’s revenue haul included a one-time $97.5 million tax settlement. If the settlement is factored out, revenue collections for the month were up by 2.1 percent over last January. “We finished January ahead of expectations primarily due to greater than anticipated individual income estimated tax payments, which was also the major contributor to last month’s above-benchmark performance,” Revenue Commissioner Amy Pitter said in a statement. “This may reflect additional taxes being paid on investment-related income, particularly capital gains, due to strong stock market performance in 2014.” – Michael Norton /SHNS


Gov. Charlie Baker will create licensing regulations around for-hire car services like Uber and Lyft, in an effort to protect riders’ and drivers’ safety, the administration announced Wednesday. Baker said drivers for the ride-for-hire companies could continue to operate while his administration works on legislation. The governor will work with Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone – two cities where the service is commonly used – to draft the regulations. The licensing proposal will require background checks of drivers, proper safety checks of all vehicles, and adequate insurance coverage. Concerns about the ride-sharing services have been raised across the country in recent months. In January, a group of taxi owners sued the city of Boston for allowing the services to operate. In December, an Uber driver was held without bail after being charged with raping and kidnapping a Massachusetts woman who used the ride-sharing service in Boston. “In order for Massachusetts’ economy to thrive, we must continue to embrace technology and innovation as a means for growth,” Baker said in a statement. “Emerging transportation options such as Uber and Lyft present a real opportunity for our evolving transportation ecosystem to more efficiently serve residents and visitors to Massachusetts alike. We also have a responsibility to step up to ensure consumer choice and public safety prevail, and that Massachusetts continues to develop as a global destination for business and tourism.” Boston Mayor Walsh said in a statement that the city’s taxi advisory committee has been developing a new policy on for-hire transportation services. “The City of Boston looks forward to working with Governor Baker in developing a sensible, comprehensive regulatory framework for all for-hire transportation services across the Commonwealth that ensures transportation services are safe and accessible,” Walsh said. – Colleen Quinn/SHNS


Comments are closed.