Senate President Karen Spilka speaks to reporters in this May 12, 2023 file photo, joined by Senate Ways and Means Chairman Michael Rodrigues. Photo by Sam Doran | State House News Service

Senate President Karen Spilka indicated Monday that the Senate will take up its version of a major housing policy and borrowing bill next week, but she declined to give any indication whether her chamber will include in its bill the local-option transfer tax that Gov. Maura Healey proposed but was left out of the bill passed by the House.

House Democrats did not embrace the controversial proposal to let cities and towns attach new taxes to certain high-price real estate sales, then use the money generated for affordable housing investments. If the Senate similarly excludes the governor’s proposal or another version of a transfer fee, the chances of it ending up in any final product are near zero.

“We’ve been working on it. We haven’t waited to get it. We’ve been working on it and we’ve had lots of discussions within the Senate, with senators, to get a better idea of where they’re at. And we will be taking it up before the month is over,” Spilka said Monday when asked whether the Senate bill will propose a transfer fee or tax. “And we’ll continue to discuss the transfer tax with members.”

Pressed on whether she personally supports the idea, Spilka said her opinion alone is not that important.

“I’m getting a feeling from the members, that is, to me, what is the most important, where the members are at,” she said.

Before the House released its housing bill language without a transfer tax, Mariano told the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce in March that he was open to the idea of a transfer tax because “if you believe that the issue of housing affordability is a genuine crisis, then we must explore all options that have the potential to make a real difference.”

But two months later, he told reporters that he had been talking about the transfer tax idea with representatives and he discovered it’s “not as popular as I thought it might be.”

Senate action on a housing bond and policy bill next week means that the House and Senate could move that issue into conference committee negotiations by early July, which would give the group of six lawmakers just less than a month to iron out differences and return to Healey’s desk a bill that the governor has identified as among a small clutch of priorities.

Senate Plans To Tackle Housing Bill Next Week

by State House News Service time to read: 2 min