Opinions are mixed on Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick’s $34.8 billion budget released yesterday – some advocacy groups are saying the investments will pay off, while others are warning that a hike in taxes will damage a recovering economy.
In a speech detailing his FY 2014 budget proposal, Governor Patrick focused on his plan to raise nearly $2 billion to increase funding for two key areas: education and transportation.
Geoff Beckwitch, Executive Director at the Massachusetts Municipal Association, said that the Governor’s ideas for transportation, including an increase in local aid to cities and towns for road and bridge repair, and intent to focus on public transportation by way of the Regional Transit Authorities, is essential to fix a broken system.
Ferd Wulkan, an organizer at PHENOM – the Public Higher Education Network of Massachusetts – was in high praise of the Governor’s call to invest more in MassGrants, to send more money to Community Colleges to focus on job training, and make public colleges more affordable.
But some are not as enthusiastic about the Governor’s plan to pay for the measures, which includes a one percentage point increase in the state income tax.
Barbara Anderson is Executive Director of Citizens for Limited Taxation, a statewide grassroots taxpayer group.
In a statement released by the Massachusetts Republican Party, House Republican Leader Bradley Jones said, ” “I don’t see how adding the third massive tax increase during his seven years in office is a good thing for the Commonwealth, the taxpayers, or the economy.”
And although the governor said he plans to balance the income tax increase with doubling personal exemptions, eliminating several itemized deductions, and reducing the sales tax, Barbara Anderson says it’s all a game.
Anderson also says she doesn’t trust lawmakers will offer any better proposals.
Other groups including the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance also have harsher views on the Governor’s tax plan. A statement by Executive Director Paul Craney issued after the Governor unveiled his plan in prior to the State of the Commonwealth speech last week reads in part, "increasing the tax rate on hardworking familes while coming out of an economic recession is not the proper approach..."
Other groups including the Massachusetts Taxpayer Foundation, and Associated Industries of Massachusetts were also critical of the Governor’s tax proposals.