Thursday, February 28, 2013

My View: Raising Taxes Is Not The Solution To Fixing Our State’s Transportation System

Today, we present the fourth installment in our series dedicated to the eight public hearings for the Commonwealth’s Fiscal Year 2014 budget. This edition of My View comes to us from Representative Vinny deMacedo.

Yesterday, my colleagues and I had the opportunity to have the Secretary of Transportation, Richard Davey, and the Secretary of Environmental Affairs, Richard Sullivan, come before the Joint Committee on Ways and Means to talk about the Governor’s proposals for the Fiscal Year 2014 budget.

The interesting aspect of Secretary Davey’s testimony was that he wanted to highlight the importance of transportation and why a world class transportation system is needed in order to grow Massachusetts’ economy. During his testimony, the Secretary not only emphasized the need to expand the South Coast rail line from New Bedford to Boston, but talked about the necessity of a train from Western Massachusetts to New York City. Both very interesting proposals, however, with staggering price tags and added maintenance costs, I do not believe that the economic benefit would outweigh the economic costs.

Understanding the importance of an efficient transportation system, I also recognize that we have a fiduciary responsibility to the people of the Commonwealth. There is a whole host of things we can do to make our transportation system better if money were no object; however, money is an object and raising the income tax is not something that is palatable to me or my constituents. I commend the Secretary for his passion for transportation, but I still am not convinced that raising taxes is the solution to fixing Massachusetts’ transportation system.

As we reach the halfway point in this year’s public hearings to discuss the Commonwealth’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year, it is clear that the Governor is pushing very hard to sell his proposals which, by his own words, is an ambitious plan. Agency after agency continues to come before the Joint Committee to make their case for why their respective agency can’t do its job sufficiently or effectively without an increase in taxes. The Governor has even gone so far as to employ a Washington D.C. tactic which is aimed at putting pressure on legislators by releasing district-by-district maps that reflect how much communities will receive in extra money by raising taxes statewide. I can only speak for myself, but I believe that Democratic and Republican legislators are not convinced about the Governor’s plan, and neither are their constituents!