By proposing changes to the state's tax system, Gov. Deval Patrick told the state House chambers in his State of the State address Wednesday night they could raise nearly $2 billion annually to fund projects in education and transportation.
"That's why we invest and why investing in education and infrastructure together, through government, is so important to generating private sector growth," Patrick said.
In his State of the State address, Patrick outlined a 1 percentage point raise in the state's income tax - from 5.25 percent to 6.25 percent to support his goals in education reform.
"Let's focus resources where poverty is too often concentrated, and ensure that every middle school in every gateway city has a longer school day," he said.
Gateway cities like Springfield already have longer school days to try and close achievement gaps.
Patrick says that the money dedicated to education would not be used for any other any other purpose.
And to offset the hike in the income tax, Patrick is proposing reducing the sales tax from 6.25 percent to 4.25 percent and using that money to fund transportation and infrastructure.
At the end of last year the Patrick-Murray administration came up with the last $4 million needed to fund the revitalization of Springfield's Union Station.
Wednesday night he said he wanted to see more done in the western part of the state.
"In transportation, we can no longer tell full regions of the state, like the South Coast or Western Mass, to wait to share in the state's prosperity," he said.
Patrick also said that raising taxes is not an easy decision and he welcomes debate.
"I would not ask if I did not believe in my heart that investing meaningfully today in education and transportation will significantly improve our economic tomorrow," he said.
Not everyone is on board with the tax hike proposals.
House Minority Leader Bradley Jones, R-North Reading, and several other Republican leaders released a statement saying:
"The fiscal deficit facing the commonwealth did not happen overnight, nor is it the result of the previous year. While this is a problem that has festered throughout the six years that Governor Patrick has been in office, the Patrick-Murray administration's proposals perpetuate the same old tired tax and spend strategy that helped create this mess. This approach is both reckless and irresponsible."
If the income tax hike goes through, it will be the first increase in more than 20 years.
Read Patrick's full speech here.
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