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Under Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick's tax plan, the tax code would have become simpler and more progressive and the state would have gained $1.9 billion in revenue to invest in transportation and education. The overwhelmingly Democratic state legislature, though, killed that plan and has another idea: let's make taxes more regressive while investing half as much in transportation as Patrick's plan calls for and raising nothing for education. Patrick has said he will veto that bill, but the legislature—again, overwhelmingly Democratic—may have the votes to override his veto.

Senate President Therese Murray and House Speaker Robert DeLeo are saying the same sort of stuff we hear every time there's a proposal to tax the rich more, tax corporations more, or give workers a better deal. In translation, it goes like this: "Oh, the economy is bad, so rather than investing in making it better, let's let it keep sucking because big donors are telling us they don't want to pay more. Also, we think our constituents are too stupid to realize that shifting the tax burden toward the wealthiest is a good deal for most of them."

As Patrick detailed in the opening minutes of his press conference on the legislative leadership's plan (video above), it would provide enough funding only for the most short-term, not-falling-behind transportation needs, rather than moving the state's transportation system forward in any way, and would do so through taxes that would hit working- and middle-class people most directly while not adequately addressing the state's needs:

The DeLeo-Murray plan leans on cigarette and tobacco, gasoline and business taxes to pull in revenue designed to avert near-term MBTA fare hikes, stop paying for personnel with bond funds, and to shore up regional transit authorities.

Transportation Secretary Richard Davey on Wednesday predicted the DeLeo-Murray plan, if adopted, would force higher transportation fares, fees and tolls and could require the state to pick up the full cost of the $1.3 billion Green Line extension, a project state officials hope will be funded with a 50-50 state/federal funding split.

Education, meanwhile, is completely shafted. Because when you have one of the best education systems in the country, I guess you might as well quit and not bother to invest in it anymore?

A legislature as heavily Republican as the Massachusetts legislature is Democratic would not be hesitating to raise taxes on poor and middle-class families, lower taxes on corporations and the wealthiest people, and call it a giant tax break for everyone—never mind all those cuts to services. But the Massachusetts legislative leadership is too something—too frightened of the tax-and-spend label, too beholden to a few donors, too out of touch to realize that raising taxes on the highest earners is something that's been discussed extensively on the national scene and actually has a lot of popular support—to do the right thing for the state and put forward a bill that would see lower-income people paying a little less while raising enough money overall to make serious investments in transportation and education that would create jobs, improve the business climate by making it easier to move goods and services around the state, improve the already excellent education kids are getting in the state, and then make it a little more affordable for them to attend college. Apparently that's just crazy talk.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Fri Apr 05, 2013 at 06:56 AM PDT.

Also republished by Massachusetts Kosmopolitans and In Support of Labor and Unions.

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Comment Preferences

  •  What a shame, but hardly surprising. (7+ / 0-)

    Everyone's on board with the austerity theme now. Soon they'll all be wearing sack cloth ties and pocket squares. I'm sure the conservadems are falling all over themselves to get as far away from Patrick's plan as possible.

    What is truth? -- Pontius Pilate

    by commonmass on Fri Apr 05, 2013 at 07:02:06 AM PDT

  •  Remember this is the same state Dem party that (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    managed to let Scott Brown beat Martha Coakley in a heavily Democratic state.

    Obviously there's something that needs to be fixed; just not sure what that something is.

    We don't want our country back, we want our country FORWARD. --Eclectablog

    by Samer on Fri Apr 05, 2013 at 07:17:37 AM PDT

  •  Wow, I hope Massachusetts voters can get the (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MRA NY, FarWestGirl

    message across to their state representatives that this kind of austerity-crazed, whack-the-middle-class budget deal is unacceptable, and that there will be consequences come the next election.

    "I'm a pessimist because of intelligence, but an optimist because of will" - Antonio Gramsci

    by ewmorr on Fri Apr 05, 2013 at 07:23:04 AM PDT

  •  Silly me thinking that California... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Vatexia, ewmorr, FarWestGirl, Nattiq

    ...would be the rough template Blue dominated state governments would follow.

    When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative. --Martin Luther King Jr.

    by Egalitare on Fri Apr 05, 2013 at 07:31:55 AM PDT

  •  I understand.... (0+ / 0-)

    ....why some of the transportation might want to be funded by gasoline taxes.  But education?  If they don't use the income tax for that, they're running afoul of equal funding mandates.

    And why are they raising business taxes if they're worried about the business climate?  I'd go after the income tax.  You can't make it graduated in Mass (because of the state constitution) but you can try to make it at least somewhat progressive.

    They're afraid of the MSM calling them out on austerity.  So they're hiking taxes that they think nobody will notice.

  •  Unfortunately, this part is might be true: (4+ / 0-)
    Also, we think our constituents are too stupid to realize that shifting the tax burden toward the wealthiest is a good deal for most of them
    It is true for way too many people I know.  They seem to accept the concept of an aristocracy that shouldn't be taxed but instead put in charge.  And these are degreed professionals.  They never state it in this way, but the effect is the same.

    To any wingnut: If you pay my taxes I'll give you a job.

    by ban48 on Fri Apr 05, 2013 at 07:36:16 AM PDT

  •  Increasing gasoline and tobacco taxes make sense. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    As far as tobacco taxes are concerned, people should boycott the tax by not smoking.  Smoking tobacco is bad for the individual and drives up healthcare costs.  I have no sympathy for smokers who pay the tax.

    Gasoline taxes are a different matter, over time they need to be increased as auto gas mileage improves people buy fewer gallons.  Combined with inflation, gasoline taxes need to be periodically increased to keep up with necessary transportation funding.  If electric cars take hold, there will need to be an annual mileage tax based on reporting of odometer readings with auto registration and auto sales to keep transportation revenues coming.  

    The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

    by nextstep on Fri Apr 05, 2013 at 11:09:21 AM PDT

  •  Is anyone on this thread from Massachusetts? (0+ / 0-)

    Not that I care about how much you seem to misunderstand what Deval Patrick proposed and what the Massachusetts Legislature is apparently rejecting but the ignorance seems odd.  It seem like the poster and the commenters don't live in Massachusetts.

    The $1.9 billion was not going to come from increasing the income tax and decreasing the sales tax. Those moves were progressive for sure but almost revenue neutral.  The money was going to come mostly from removing middle-class homeowners' (with middle class homes) ability to avoid capital gains tax when selling their primary residence.  This applied to everyone but was going to be especially hard on seniors that depend on those gains to fund their non-Medicare-funded healthcare costs (most of their health-care costs are not covered by Medicare) and assisted living (which is not at all covered by Medicare) in old age.

    And the idea that millions of Massachusetts residents would be happy with increasing these taxes on their real estate gain so that a few thousand people could get cheaper bus rides in the inner city was always a non starter.  

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