Gov. Deval Patrick renews push for infrastructure, education upgrades
BOSTON -- Acknowledging resistance to proposed tax changes that would raise nearly $2 billion in new revenue, Gov. Deval Patrick on Wednesday launched a new push to sell lawmakers on his plan to significantly boost funding for transportation and education.
The administration delivered maps to each legislator in the House and Senate detailing how the new investments in transportation and education would benefit their districts.
As part of his state budget proposal for the fiscal year starting July 1, Patrick asked lawmakers to raise the state income tax rate from 5.25 percent to 6.25 percent while lowering the sales tax rate from 6.25 percent to 4.5 percent. The net result of those changes, along with other proposals including an increase in the cigarette tax, would raise an additional $1.9 billion in revenue, according to the administration.
While virtually everyone was enthusiastic about the prospects of a modernized transportation system and improved schools, the governor said, the reality of how that would be funded -- especially the increase in income taxes -- wasn't as warmly received.
"People are hesitant to pay more taxes. People work hard for their money, I understand that, and while they see the value in paying their fair share, they are worried about whether their money is being spent wisely," Patrick told a Statehouse news conference.
The tax changes have received a tepid response from legislative leaders, some of whom have questioned the wisdom of raising taxes while the economy is still struggling to recover. The House and Senate Ways and Means Committees are holding hearings on the governor's proposed budget, with the House expected to release its version of the spending plan in late March.
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