In his State of the Commonwealth address Wednesday night, Gov. Deval Patrick proposed raising the state's income tax by 1 percentage point and lowering the sales tax to pay for $2 billion in transportation improvements and early childhood education programs.
"There is no good time to raise taxes," Patrick said. "I know how tough the times have been on the people and families of the Commonwealth. And though the worst of the recession is over, many, many families still face tough decisions and have deep anxiety about the future. 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."
Income tax hiked to 6.25 percent
Patrick said he wanted a more fair and comprehensive tax system that lowers the sales tax to 4.5 percent and raises the income tax to 6.25 percent. He added that he wants the proceeds to be dedicated to a public works fund that will support the transportation plan.
"Under my plan, sales tax proceeds would be off limits for any other purpose," Patrick said.
To make the burden lighter on those who make less money, the governor said he'd like to double the personal exemptions and eliminate a number of itemized deductions.
Hike to Be Spent on Education and Transportation
The proposed tax hike seeks to pay for $2 billion in education and transportation improvement the governor wants.
The education spending would include funding high-quality early education and K-12 education, investment in public colleges and universities, and the re-invigoration of the MassGrants scholarship program.
For transportation improvements, the governor envisions "a bus or subway that came on time, was safe and comfortable and ran until a student at UMass Boston or a worker in a downtown tower finished up at 1 or 2 in the morning." He also spoke of faster commuter rails, a Green Line that goes to Medford, commuter lines that reached the western part of the state and an improved highway system.
"The people we work for want the schools I have described; they want the rail and road services we have laid out; and above all they want the opportunity and growth these investments will bring. We on their behalf have choices to make. I choose growth," Patrick said.
What do you think? Is the choice between higher taxes and growth, and lower taxes and stagnation? Do you support the tax increase? Tell us in the comments below.