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Mass. lawmakers working to lessen impact of inflation on residents

This is leading to growing questions about whether Massachusetts has plans to conquer soaring prices.
Published: Apr. 11, 2022 at 3:48 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 11, 2022 at 4:57 PM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- Inflation continues to impact people across the Bay State from the cost of food to the high prices at the pump. Just across the border in Connecticut, the state has temporarily suspended the gas tax and is currently halting the sales tax on clothing and shoes under $100.

This is leading to growing questions about whether Massachusetts has plans to conquer soaring prices.

“It’s a hard time. We need to make sure state government is really helping people out. I point out that the biggest thing I hear about is the skyrocketing price of healthcare, skyrocketing housing challenges, and the food and fuel prices. Those are the big ones I’m hearing about…In terms of what the state can do, first, we have to kind of target where the fastest growth is and real the pain points are,” said State Senator Eric Lesser, who is also running for Mass. Lieutenant Governor.

Lesser told Western Mass News that change must be made in the Bay State as prices on just about everything remain high across the board. He said the legislature is currently working on addressing those pain points.

“We have done a lot of work to help work with supermarket companies, suppliers to help ease up some of the regulations that they might be facing…Of course, we have a war in Ukraine. One of the largest energy producers in the world, Russia, is involved in that. You have wheat, Ukraine is one of the world’s bread baskets as much as 40 percent of some the world’s food stops and grain comes from Ukraine. That’s putting a lot of pressure on grocery prices,” Lesser noted.

Across the state line in Connecticut, the gas tax has been suspended through June and an April tax-fee week has been added through April 16, giving shoppers a break from the sales tax on clothing and shoes under $100. Massachusetts already has no tax on clothing, but does not have a gas tax holiday.

At one Connecticut gas station, gas is currently $3.47 a gallon due to their gas holiday making it 25 cents cheaper per gallon, but at one Massachusetts gas station, it is $3.88 a gallon without a gas tax suspension.

“There are a few measures that were currently considering. For example, tax rebates and tax credits that we can get to individuals immediately or close to immediately in the next few weeks and months to help make sure were getting relief as some of these longer-term issues get resolved,” Lesser explained.

Those longer-term issues include the prices at the pump. Lesser added that wages must keep up with the escalating prices and a lack of trade workers is another growing problem impacting the economy.

“What’s holding us back with our economy right now is we do not have enough skilled trades. We don’t have enough electricians, carpenters. We don’t have enough truck drivers and delivery personnel. We need our training programs in our schools for people to take on those roles,” Lesser said.

Potential votes on various proposals under consideration are expected in the weeks ahead.