Economists Endorse Governor’s New Revenue Plan

Investing meaningfully today in education and transportation will significantly improve our economic tomorrows.

–Barry Bluestone, economist

Raising revenues now will help us fulfill our responsibility to future generations.

–Paul Toner, MTA

As reported in the Boston Globe today, 57 local economists are declaring their support for the Governor’s progressive revenue proposal. Much like “An Act to Invest in Our Communities,” the Governor’s plan makes our overall tax system less regressive, and raises sufficient revenue to not only put out the fires of fiscal crises (MBTA), but also to invest in education and other services that have suffered years of budget cuts due to ill-conceived tax cuts in the 1990s.

It makes sense. You cannot create a solid foundation for the future if you do not invest in building it! An education is the best investment for economic potential, individually, and it is also true for our state’s larger economy. Transportation is tightly linked to economic growth, too (see today’s Christian Science Monitor story). And the services we perform together as a community (policing, infrastructure, health care, special education, food assistance, more) help keep our families strong; further cutting them adds further burden on families and continues to stunt our economic growth.

It’s not just economists who understand this; a recent Boston Herald poll shows that more Bay Staters approve of the Governor’s plan than those who do not. With expert opinion and popular support — it’s time now for the Legislature to get on board. Join us in taking action — make an easy phone call or email, and join us Tuesday, March 12, at the State House to tell your legislators: Invest in our communities!

Find out more and start organizing in your town in support of Our Communities!

Read an excerpt from the Globe article, below:

A group of more than 50 economists will voice their support Monday for Governor Deval Patrick’s plan to increase Massachusetts’s income tax, saying that chronic underfunding of the state’s education and transportation systems has threatened future prosperity.

“We believe there needs to be a significant increase in investment to make sure we remain economically competitive,” said Barry Bluestone, director of the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy at Northeastern University, one of the 57 economists who signed the statement backing the governor’s plan.

The governor’s proposal, which would generate an additional $1.9 billion annually, raises the income tax from 5.25 to 6.25 percent, while cutting the sales tax from 6.25 to 4.5 percent.

His plan also would eliminate 44 tax exemptions and deductions and change the corporate tax code to raise $149 million a year.

The additional revenue would be used to finance a broad overhaul of the state’s aging transportation system and launch major education initiatives.

The governor’s plan needs the approval of the Legislature. Last week, House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo said he will offer his own, scaled-down revenue package next month.

DeLeo’s more narrowly focused bill would provide additional funding for transportation but would also look for budget cuts in the state Department of Transportation.

Patrick unveiled his proposal in his State of the Commonwealth speech in January.

“There is no good time to raise taxes,’’ said Patrick in the speech. “I would not ask if I did not believe in my heart that investing meaningfully today in education and transportation will significantly improve our economic tomorrows.”

Bluestone said many of the economists were inclined to sign the letter because the governor pledged to use some of the increased revenue to fund early-education programs.

“The evidence we’ve seen from other economists suggest that early education has a very high return,” he said, explaining that a better educated work force will earn more and generate more tax for the state.

Last week, a group of educators and union leaders including Paul Toner, president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, and Jackie Jenkins-Scott, president of Wheelock College, also urged lawmakers to back the governor’s plan.

In a letter to all legislators, this group argued that “raising revenues will help us fulfill our responsibility to future generations, as well as our commitment to the students currently attending our schools, colleges and universities.”

from The Boston Globe

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