Muddling Along, Makeshift Fixes and Misdirection: Analysis of Gov. Baker's FY2016 Budget Proposal

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Analysis by Robert Fitzpatrick, Progressive Newton

On March 4, Governor Charlie Baker released his proposed state budget for Fiscal Year 2016, which starts this July 1. The new Governor’s first budget proposal – and the reaction of some Democratic legislators to it – contains some positive developments but a lot more to be concerned about.

 

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Boston Globe: Sen. Eldridge Makes the Case for Graduated MA Income Taxes

Excerpted from the Boston Globe.


JamieEldridge.jpgShould the state adopt a graduated income tax?

Yes 

State senator James Eldridge, an Acton Democrat

Last week, I filed a constitutional amendment to create a graduated, or progressive income tax that would allow us to invest in our communities to ensure a quality public education for every child in Massachusetts, improve our transportation infrastructure, provide police and fire protection to keep our neighborhoods safe, and enhance public and individual health.

Unfortunately, our current tax system is not doing that. Local aid has been cut 40 percent compared to a decade ago, our state has hundreds of roads and bridges in disrepair while our public transportation system ages, many police and fire departments have laid off staff, and hospitals and medical clinics continue to close across the state.

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Can We Talk About Real Revenue Reform Now?

pothole.jpgOn November 4, Massachusetts voted to defund road and bridge repair, by eliminating the 'indexing' on the gas tax, part of the flawed and inadequate "Transportation Funding Package" passed in Spring 2013. Jim Aloisi rightly points out in the Boston Globe that this is an opportunity to go back to the drawing board and get transportation funding right this time: 

ON ITS FACE, last Tuesday was a bleak day for anyone who rides a train or a bus around Boston. Massachusetts voters overturned a new law that would have ratcheted up the state’s gas tax at regular intervals, and they installed in the governor’s office Charlie Baker, who doesn’t want to backfill the hole the gas tax repeal will leave behind. This should be a recipe for more broken trains, fewer buses, shoddier transit service, and ever-worsening traffic in and around Boston.

But it’s also a blessing in disguise. The gas tax repeal took the stuffing out of a weak transportation finance package that the Legislature enacted last year.

Beacon Hill now has a chance to take a second run at the issue, and get it right this time. 

We agree -- and believe now is the time to revisit the fundamental questions of the 2012-2013 "Our Communities" campaign, not just for transportation infrastructure (which is fundamentally important) but for all the services and infrastructure that make our Commonwealth communities great places to live and work. 
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