Battenfeld: Lame duck Charlie Baker waits for petty Legislature to act

If you’re waiting for Democrats in the Legislature to send a tax cut to Gov. Charlie Baker, you’re going to have to wait a little longer.

Like eight months.

That’s when the lame duck Baker will be gone and the new governor — most likely a Democrat — will take over and get credit for the accomplishments.

Sound petty and political?

Of course. But that’s how the Legislature has always operated.

Baker — to his credit — has been aggressively pushing his agenda for the last few months despite the fact that he’ll soon be relegated to some high-paying job in the private sector.

But it’s clear the Democratic-led Legislature wants nothing to do with giving Baker — who is essentially a Democrat in all but name — any parting gifts on the way out the door.

Instead, Baker is going out presiding over steep inflation and sky-high gas prices, despite the fact the Legislature is holding onto billions of dollars in federal COVID relief and a massive budget surplus that could be helping people pay bills right now.

Baker has proposed a massive jobs and economic development bill using several billion dollars in American Rescue Plan (ARPA) funds. But lawmakers are holding onto most of the money while Baker stews. And it sounds like they’re in no hurry to get anything done this year.

It’s self-imposed gridlock.

“We’re still in May, but it looks like we’re going to have a very large surplus for the close of the year. That certainly gives us an opportunity to not have to be completely in a rush to spend all the ARPA money,” House Ways and Means Chairman Aaron Michlewitz told State House News Service.

As far as a tax cut goes, don’t hold your breath for lawmakers to pass what Baker has proposed or anything like it. A gas tax cut like Republicans have proposed? Ha. Good one.

“All options are going to be considered,” said Michlewitz, who may or may not have been laughing when he uttered that.

Instead, Baker is leaving office presiding over the ongoing disaster and federal takeover of the MBTA and embarrassments like the expensive, $56 million payout to families of lost loved ones at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home.

That’s what his final-year legacy will be — not a taxpayer-friendly tax cut.

It’s a perfect example of why the Massachusetts Legislature has too much power and the governor has to kowtow to them. Speaker of the House Ronald Mariano has much more power than Baker. He controls all his Democratic House members who do what they’re told.

And the Republican governor sits waiting and waiting for action. It’s something he’s gotten good at.

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