If ever there was a time and place for the state to do something about boosting the sagging economy, the sales tax holiday would have been the measure for this year.

If ever there was a time and place for the state to do something about boosting the sagging economy, the sales tax holiday would have been the measure for this year.


With taxpayers starting to get their stimulus rebate checks and consumer spending dropping as the economy nosedives, a gift like the annual exemption from the 5 percent tax could have done much to give state retailers a boost in the normally dry sales days of summer.


So it’s hard to understand why House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi, who is firmly behind tax credits to draw the movie production, alternative energy and life science industries to the state, would be so reluctant to toss a minimal crumb to an already established sector of Massachusetts economy.


DiMasi, in a meeting with Ledger editors and reporters last week, said it was “very, very unlikely” the state would have a sales tax holiday for the fifth year in a row after lawmakers voted against the GOP budget amendment last month to set up a permanent tax-free weekend.


That is a turnabout for DiMasi, who just last fall told the Retailers Association of Massachusetts that he fully supported the annual sales tax suspension and many retailers likely were preparing their orders with that in mind.


DiMasi’s about-face comes as the state struggles to meet monthly tax benchmarks, but it is contrary to his support for about $60 million in tax credits for the film industry to build here and nearly $1 billion to attract a life sciences industry to the state.


Both of those are worthy incentives designed to draw new energy and new employment opportunities to Massachusetts, but the $13 billion retail industry, which ranks in the state’s top five of employment segments, should not be left off the list of those who could benefit from a much-needed infusion of help as well.


While the state estimates about $20 million or more is forgone each year during the sales weekend, an argument can be made that some of that would be lost anyway with people not making a purchase were they not spurred by the carrot of no sales tax.


In addition, the retailers put on extra staff, some on overtime, which generates more income tax that would not have been collected by the state. And while out shopping, more people would go out to eat, a 5 percent tax that is exempt from the annual holiday.


It’s not too late for lawmakers to reconsider. Last year, the bill was passed and signed by the governor just nine days before the set dates and in 2006, just 10 days ahead.


We’re prepared to throw hundreds of millions of tax dollars at industries that have yet to prove they can make it in Massachusetts. It’s not too much to ask that we show some support for a stalwart portion of our economy that already makes up a solid foundation here and now.