14 replies on “Reactions to the Governor’s Budget Proposal?”

  1. For the transportation proposal, what seems to be missing is important decision making data. For all the projects touted as worthy of investment, how many residents are served by each? What is the economic gain for each? This would allow prioritization of projects to decide which justify tax increases, and by how much.

    If the Green Line Extension or rail south of Boston has a high capital cost per person served, it would be more cost effective to fight the ruling favoring of the liberal Conservation Law Foundation, costing taxpayers $2B.

    Other than the Fast-14 bridge deck replacements, I’m disappointed about all the money wasted by the state in transportation failures. How did that $25M investment at Worcester airport work out, such that we should spend more? The bridges in Waltham and Wellesley took forever to finish. Why are millions of dollars spent to reduce transportation on the BU bridge, Longellow Bridge, Anderson bridge, Nonantum Road, Mass Ave, Western Ave Cambridge, Milenea Cass Blvd., and streets throughout Boston and Cambridge? It seems like giving MassDOT more money will just lose us MORE transportation! Half the travel lanes were removed on Nonantum Road to make it safer for pedestrians and cyclists, yet, soon after the work was done and trees planted under power lines, a pedestrian died. Statewide 0.5% of people bike, yet all are asked to pay more taxes to benefit this small minority disproportionately.

  2. Mark, you bring out great points ! I would just like to remind participants and Sen. Brownsberger that we have been burned far too many times. The suggested “investments” that the Governor has put forth are going to result in hard earned money being remived from our pockets. Just like the Big Dig with a projected cost of $2.8B, and a resulting cost of approx $15B. That’s 5X and it’s not over…keep your eye on the on-going repairs.
    This budget proposal from the governor is nothing more than a piece of his campaign “accomplishments” come 2016.

  3. Fair points. I do think that the Governor and his Secretary of Transportation understand these points, but we will definitely give the proposed plans scrutiny as to the expected benefits vs. the expected costs.

  4. I would like to understand the education portion of the budget proposal better. I have seen that the intent to raise 1.9 billion more in revenue for education and transport. I have missed the proposed split in spending of those funds– how much is proposed for each of those purposes? Is some of the revenue increase slated for other purposes (reducing the deficit)?

    Also, the Patch stated: “Increased funding would go first to education. Early Education and Care would see a 26.4 percent increase over the current budget; K-12 education funding would get a $226.2 million bump; and there’d be an additional $197 million next year for the state’s higher education system.”

    What do the proposed increases for K-12 and higher education amount to, in percentage terms? If the increases for these categories are very different from the 26.4% for early education and care, I wonder why?

    And which of these categories (the first two?) represent Chapter 70 funds? Thanks!

  5. I think it irresponsible to ask for a massive tax increase, especially while we are still in very tough economic times. The Budget for Massachusetts is around 35 billion a year. If you simply asked each agency to cut 5% you would save 1.75 billion. I also think we need further reform in our public pension system. I would not make any changes to the average pensioner in the 25k to 75k range, but we have many taking huge pensions for life of 100k+. This is far too generous and is not tied to actual standards in the private sector. Terms of contracts are changed all the time in the private sector, Social Security age requirements have also changed, so I don’t see why it should be different for our public sector. We are all in this together and we should not establish a preferential Government class.

    We also have many other abuses in our state entitlement system. We need to tighten up the eligibility and require some service from those who can participate. There is no reason why a healthy 30 year old man cannot be asked to contribute to our State with some kind of service to receive public benefits. We need to make sure we are not creating/growing dependency with all of our good intentions.

    A 5% cut is not going to devastate our State. I know the average household has had to cut back far more than this. We need to think about how these proposed taxes will impact future growth. We don’t want to drive away our tax base.

    Thank your reading my thoughts.


  6. Wondering what your thoughts might be on “tax credits”, perhaps in the context of Joan Vennochi’s piece in the 1/27 Globe. Is there any overlap with what the Governor has proposed? in comparison to the exemptions which the Governor has proposed removing? just your thoughts on these “tax credits” in general?

    Thanks — Bill Mahoney

  7. I’m a strong proponent of tax code simplification and agree with her thrust that we need to eliminate the film tax credit and other special purpose credits. The Governor’s plan does include a broad elimination of special purpose credits in the personal income tax code.

  8. I would like to take the opportunity to respond to Alexandra Vangeel’s questions posted above.

    She asked about the proposed split in spending for the $1.9 billion in new revenue. You can find a chart, categorized under “Allocation of New Revenue” at this link, prepared by the Executive Office of Administration and Finance. It breaks down the proposed spending by targeted category by fiscal year.

    In response to Alexandra’s question about what kind of percentage increase the K-12 budget would receive, the Governor’s office explains, “An increase of $226 M in Chapter 70 funding [state aid to municipalities for education] will bring this vital support for communities to an unprecedented $4.39 B. This represents a $677 M (18 percent) increase in Chapter 70 funding from pre-recession levels.” In response to the question about what kind of percentage increase the higher education budget would receive, the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center compares the FY13 budget to the Governor’s FY14 by category, and finds that the higher education budget increases under the Governor’s proposal from 1.0083 billion to 1.2053 billion, or an increase of about 19.5%.

    Anne Johnson Landry
    Committee Counsel and Policy Advisor
    Office of State Senator William N. Brownsberger

  9. HI Mark,

    Just a few comments in response to this.

    Yes, there is a need for further pension reform — we’ve actually made a lot of progress on this issue over the past few sessions, but there are still a handful of huge pensions which are indeed troubling. There are also a number of features of the way the pension system works which are not fair. I continue to make reform of the pension system a high priority — click here for more on my work in this area.

    Actually many state agencies have already taken cuts well beyond 5% through the recession. See, for example, the historical comparisons in the data at this link.

    There are always some abuses in the entitlement system and the Senate President is making a new welfare reform package a priority this year, but few believe that potential for savings approaches the need say for new funds for transportation.

    I do appreciate that new taxes should always be the last resort, but I am convinced we are at the point if we are going to address the transportation maintenance deficit.

  10. I gather the big jump is in “Early Education”? Is that code for pre-K Special Education? There are so many cryptic euphemisms in education that I have a hard time keeping track of them! When I first heard about executive dysfunction, I thought it was about bad CEO and banking decisions. Anyway, special ed seems quite profitable for senior managers at service providers with some outright fraud. Sped costs keep growing at rates competitive with health care and higher ed costs. Investing early saves money in the long run, but who is trying to control costs? Doesn’t Mass Law promoting fertility treatment for middle aged parents result in more sped students?

  11. I thought that was called “day care”. Are taxpayers now required to fund public day care? Private day care charges tuition and does not need taxpayer funding to stay afloat. So why the millions of dollars for early childhood education, if its not high cost special education? What percentage of students are sped, and which not? What is the tuition charged parents, and why doesn’t that entirely cover costs?

  12. Mark – I am not an expert here, but I think the short answer to your question is yes, taxpayers do provide funding for day care and related early education opportunities for low income families– that is not new. Of course that benefits the child and the child’s family, but my understanding is that there are huge benefits for the community as well. Even if this issue is considered only in light of money, research suggest a cost/benefit analysis yields a significant net benefit:


    James Heckman, Nobel Laureate in economics, has much material on his website about this (http://www.heckmanequation.org/).

    Wish I had time to dig deeper, but the short of it is that the benefits to the taxpayer outweigh the costs to the taxpayer. Like everything, there is probably a point of diminishing returns, where more money gets you less benefit. I have no idea where that point is. There may also be more/less effective ways to invest money in early education. Don’t know much about that either. There seems to be little doubt about the importance of community support of early education, however.

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