Notes from the Field...

...occasionally feature, from the work of our grassroots member activists and our chapters.

Fixing the MBTA Imperative for Our Economy: PM Member Robert Fitzpatrick in the Boston Globe

This essay originally appeared in Boston Globe West  - March 22, 2015. 

Does the state need to adopt additional tax increases to address the problems of the MBTA and its overall transportation needs? 

Robert Fitzpatrick

Yes

By Robert Fitzpatrick, Newton attorney, member of Progressive Massachusetts and secretary of the Newton Democratic City Committee.

None of this is new. In 2009, a similar commission appointed by Governor Patrick found that the MBTA’s “Forward Funding” scheme adopted in 2000 was based on unrealistic cost and revenue assumptions and concluded that the “Outlook Is Bleak.” Even with five fare hikes since 2001, the T runs at a structural operating deficit and has taken on significant additional debt.These are tough times for Boston commuters. Record snowfall totals this winter created massive traffic snarls and shone a harsh spotlight on the MBTA’s deficiencies. In February the T’s general manager resigned and Governor Baker appointed a commission to study the agency’s problems.

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Fixing the T Requires Investment: PM Member Kevin Loechner in the Boston Globe

This essay originally appeared in Boston Globe South  - March 14, 2015. 

Should we increase taxes to fix the T?

YES

kloech.jpgBy Kevin Loechner of Hull, member of Progressive Massachusetts, Democratic activist and daily mass transit commuter.

If you have ridden public transit lately, you know how frustrating it has been. The experience on our roads hasn’t been much better. Traffic on Route 3A has increased due to major delays and breakdowns on the MBTA’s Greenbush Line and ice in Hingham Harbor. The unusually brutal winter has magnified the underlying structural problems within our transportation infrastructure.

A 2009 report identified more than $3 billion in deferred MBTA maintenance costs. These costs have probably gone up since then. The Federal Highway Administration in 2014 said more than 50 percent of the state’s bridges were structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.

Clearly these issues need to be fixed, and due to the costs involved we will need to increase some taxes in order to pay for them. The recent winter breakdown of our transportation system is a stark reminder that we need a comprehensive funding plan. 

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Regressive Tax Structure Helps the Richest, Hurts Communities: PM Member Chris Matthews in the Boston Globe

This essay originally appeared in Boston Globe South  - March 7, 2015. 

Should the state adopt a graduated income tax?

YES

11008985_10204095494287850_478943708_n.jpgBy Chris Matthews of Scituate, member of Progressive Massachusetts and Treasurer of the Plymouth County Democratic League.

The MBTA is falling apart, property taxes are rising annually, and Governor Baker recently cut desperately needed substance abuse funding to balance the budget. The time has come for Massachusetts to join the majority of states in implementing a progressive income tax to increase revenue and reinvest in our communities.

Today every Massachusetts taxpayer, from CEOs earning millions to waitresses earning $3.00 per hour, pay the same income tax rate of 5.15%. But when we look at the total state and local tax burden, which pays for services, infrastructure and education, the richest 1% only pay between 4.8-6% of their income, while the poorest Massachusetts taxpayers pay 10.1%.

This means we’re overtaxing those least able to contribute while giving a discount to those most able - a regressive tax structure. Instead, we could increase tax rates based on income with a graduated income tax, like our federal tax system, increasing fairness.

Despite our needs and continuing budget woes, our income tax rate has actually decreased, from 5.95% in 2000 to 5.15% today. That’s meant less money for improving education and public transit and local aid, leading to cancelled trains, growing class sizes, and unsafe roads and bridges.

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Bill Taylor, PM Member, in the Boston Globe

Haverhill resident and Progressive Mass member Bill Taylor wrote an opinion piece for the Boston Globe. You can read the published version here, and a longer, original draft below.


billt.jpg"Will the election of Charlie Baker as governor improve Massachusetts?"

No.

During his campaign, Governor-elect Charlie Baker promised to smartly reform government spending, reduce the supposed culture of dependency and abuse in the welfare system, and never, ever raise taxes.  He argued that his experiences in the Weld and Cellucci administrations and private sector made him uniquely qualified to deliver on those promises and tackle the state’s most pressing, complex issues.  But tackling these issues takes much more than flimsy campaign rhetoric, and his track record as a policymaker suggests that he won’t be up to the task.

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Christine Barber Endorsed by CSfC and Medford4MA!

Christine_Barber_WEB_1.jpgThis past spring, longtime supporter and Progressive Massachusetts legislative ally Representative Carl Sciortino stepped down from his seat in the Statehouse. Progressive Massachusetts Chapters Cambridge-Somerville for Change and Medford4MA joined local community group Progressive Dems of Somerville to endorse one of the five candidates running to take Carl’s seat for State Representative of the 34th Middlesex District (which includes parts of Medford and Somerville).

We held a rigorous endorsement process for State Representative of the 34th Middlesex District -- a candidate questionnaire (which Christine Barber and Sharon Guzick completed) and a forum featuring the two candidates.

We are pleased to announce that all three groups -- and Progressive Massachusetts -- voted overwhelmingly to endorse Christine Barber for State Representative for 34th Middlesex.

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South Shore Supreme Court Decisions Discussion

South Shore Progressives came out, and many voiced tremendous opposition to the Hobby Lobby decision. Some sent emails to be read and shared about their reactions and personals stories regarding how this decision impacts them. Some suggestions for actions to take included boycotting Eden Foods, looking into getting a table at Scituate Heritage Days,perhaps start the process for enacting a Constitutional Amendment, and have a social media workshop to better share information and actions. Many more actions were placed into the discussion for consideration. We anticipate the workshop happening within this month. We will let everyone know as soon as the availability of the room at the Library becomes clear.

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Hobby Lobby Statement

Mike Jackman reads a statement from Cong. Bill Keating on Hobby Lobby at a meeting of South Shore Progressives in Hingham.

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