State lawmakers gave Governor Deval Patrick a tough time as he pitched his 2014 state budget proposal before the Legislatureâ€™s Ways and Means Committee Friday. Lawmakers braved through severe winter weather to comment on the governorâ€™s proposed tax reforms, which they say has been getting negative reactions from residents.
â€śTaxpayers here in the Commonwealth â€¦At the end of the day when it comes down to it, I donâ€™t think, that the desire is not there,â€ť said Rep. Angelo Dâ€™Emilia (R-Bridgewater).
â€śThey all want all of the things that you have listed,â€ť said Sen. Marc Pacheco (D-Taunton). â€śItâ€™s just that many of them may not want to pay for them.â€ť
Governor Patrickâ€™s tax reforms hike the state income tax to 6.25 percent and eliminate more than 40 personal exemptions. The governorâ€™s plan raises nearly $2 billion dollars to fund major education and transportation projects. Western Massachusetts lawmakers worry that the western part of the state will be overlooked when funding is distributed.
â€śWe fight amongst ourselves for the scraps, the very few millions of dollars, town against town, to reinvest in our infrastructure in the Berkshires,â€ť said Rep. William Smitty Pignatelli (D-Lenox).
The Patrick administration says their planâ€™s largest highway project is in Springfield, they also plan to expand the commuter rail line from Springfield to Boston and invest in higher education across the state. The governor warns that if the Legislature does nothing to raise revenue and invest, folks will end up paying the costs anyway.
â€śEither we pay through taxes to take care of it or we pay â€¦through repairs to our cars and broken axels, flat tires and all the rest of it because the roads are pocked with potholes,â€ť said Patrick.
A Taunton lawmaker suggested that the governor put his tax proposal on a statewide ballot so that voters could decide whether they want to raise enough revenue for transportation and education investments.
As 22 News reported Thursday, House Speaker Robert DeLeo says he is willing to consider a â€śsmallerâ€ť version of the governorâ€™s tax plan.
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