BOSTON, Mass. (WWLP) -
Local western Massachusetts lawmakers have mixed reviews of Governor Deval Patrick's proposed tax hike on personal income.
In Patrick's state of the state address, he proposed to raise the income tax from 5.25 percent to 6.25 percent. To offset the impact, personal exemptions will be doubled and the state sales tax will be lowered from 6.25 percent to 4.5 percent.
"I propose to restructure our tax system by placing a greater reliance on the income tax and less reliance on the sales tax," said Patrick on Wednesday.
Western Massachusetts lawmakers say the governor has lofty goals, but they're open to discussing his proposed tax reforms.
"It is never easy, it is never pleasant to increase taxes," said Sen. Stephen Brewer (D-Barre). "We will have an open mind and have thoughtful approach to this entire measure."
"Like anything else, I think it's an ambitious plan that he put forward, it's a beginning of the debate and the dialogue," said Rep. Angelo Puppolo (D-Springfield).
The Patrick administration estimates the governor's proposed tax reforms will generate just under $2 billion dollars annually – Which is enough to fund Patrick's major transportation development plan and education goals. But Republicans strongly oppose any new tax hikes.
"Take the money that the state already has, $32 plus billion dollars and prioritize within that budget and spend that money on transportation and education, don't ask a very over-taxed population to contribute more," said Rep. Don Humason (R-Westfield).
Governor Patrick seeks to expand bus and rail services throughout the state, including a commuter rail line from Springfield to Worcester to Boston. He also aims to close the achievement gap between students from low incomes neighborhoods who do poorly in school and students from wealthy households who do well.