WESTBOROUGH, Mass. — Massachusetts Health and Human Services Secretary John Polanowicz touted Gov. Deval Patrick's spending proposals to the Corridor Nine Chamber of Commerce in Westborough Thursday, supporting an increase in spending – paid for through income taxes – to make Massachusetts a leader in areas from education to health care.
Patrick's plan includes $1 billion in annual spending in transportation, including a a $12 million investment in widening Route 9 between Computer Research Drive in Westborough and Crystal Pond Road in Southborough, and improvements to intersections at Route 9 and Crystal Pond Road, and Research Drive and Connector Road.
The plan also includes $550 million for education, reaching $1 billion over four years, in order to fund K-12 education and invest in community colleges.
“In asking folks how to pay for it, we're going to have a fact-based discussion about taxes,” Polanowicz said. “People in Massachusetts want the investments. … But wanting it is not enough.”
In January, Patrick called for a 1 percentage point increase in the state income tax, while decreasing the sales tax by almost 2 percent
Several state legislators have voiced their support for Patrick's proposal, including Rep. Carolyn Dykema (D-Hopkinton), Sen. Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton) and Sen. Harriette Chandler (D-Worcester).
“As the Legislature continues their budget process, this starting point in the debate will allow for a proper discussion on the education, economic and transportation needs of the state,” said State Sen. Michael Moore (D-Millbury), in a written statement. “However, we must ensure that necessary services and programs will be provided without placing unfair burdens on working families.”
Rep. Matthew Beaton (R-Shrewsbury), a member of the state's House Ways And Means Committee, sounded a note of caution.
“The governor's put forth a very grandiose proposal with a lot of lofty goals,” but said the state needs to “fix what's broken” before expanding programs such as transportation, said Beaton in an interview after Polanowicz's remarks,
Beaton warned that Patrick's proposed income tax increase “is going to have a detrimental, negative effect on a lot of families.”