BOSTON (WWLP) – In an effort to balance the state budget, Governor Charlie Baker is proposing an $8 million dollar cut to the state tourism department. At least one member of the legislature’s Tourism Committee believes it is a poor choice.
“If we’re not advertising or if we’re not attracting people to spend their money in Massachusetts, there’s going to be a trickle effect,” said State Rep. Steven Ultrino (D-Malden).
State funding for regional tourism councils also fell from $5 million dollars to $500,000 dollars under the Governor’s spending plan. A spokesman for the Massachusetts Office of Housing and Economic Development said regional tourism councils would have to earn their funding through competitive grants.
“It’s a question of whether sixteen kind of loosely scattered regional councils, whether that’s the most effective way of driving forward the statewide tourism agenda,” said Paul McMorrow.
Tourism is the third largest industry in Massachusetts, creating thousands of jobs and generating billions of dollars in state and local tax revenues. Some state lawmakers are worried deep budget cuts would threaten much needed tax dollars.
“I’m concerned that especially those small businesses and the revenue coming in for sales tax, meals tax, hotel tax. I see that as a loss of investment, I really do,” Ultrino added.
It is not uncommon for the legislature to reverse budget cuts proposed by the Governor. The state budget is far from being signed into law. Next, the House will make their changes to the Governor’s spending plan.