Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick is signaling a willingness to compromise his proposed 1.9 billion dollar expansion of state spending on education and transportation. At the same time, he rallied ground troops to support the overall plan – including a hike in the income tax.
Hundreds of charged-up activists jammed a statehouse auditorium, among them Belchertown resident Kursten Halliburd and her young daughter. Halliburd supports the governor’s plan to boost education spending by 900 million dollars, and end waiting lists for early education programs.
“I have two young kids, one’s two-years-old and she’s five. And they’re in childcare and I just really support early learning and I feel like every kid deserves to be off to a good start.”
And union members, community activists and others at the rally seemed content with the Governor’s proposal to raise the income tax, while doubling personal exemptions to soften the effect on some taxpayers. Patrick told them that on the whole, taxes would go up for Bay State families making more than 62,000 a year, and stay level or go down for those making less. He called on the crowd to work for his vision.
“Or are we going to do what we have done over and over and over again in this Commonwealth, and just push the can down the road.”
Patrick and his staff are beginning an open dialogue with lawmakers about the price tag. He’s cited a reduction in his proposal to boost local aid as one budget-trimming option. He says he’s willing to consider a modest gas tax hike to help pay for his transportation plans. And the administration says there’s room to negotiate on specific highway projects to be funded next year — although Patrick emphasize that the final plan should not be “Boston-centric.”