BOSTON, Mass. (WWLP) - State lawmakers grilled Governor Deval Patrick's top budget chief on tax reforms that call on Massachusetts taxpayers to dig deeper into their pockets. They range from increasing the income tax from 5.25 percent to 6.25 percent, lowering the state sales tax and eliminating corporate tax deductions.
"We're not feeling it. We're not feeling the ability, terribly so much, that everybody can dig even deeper and quite honestly we hear from our constituents in that regard," said Sen. Stephen Brewer (D-Barre), Senate Chairman of the Joint Committee on Ways and Means.
But Administration and Finance Secretary Glen Shor defended the governor's state budget tax reforms, saying the overall impact will have mid to low income families paying the same or less in taxes.
"When you consider all of the parts of the governor's tax reform proposal operating together, approximately half of all households, including most households earning less than $60,000 a year will pay about the same or less in combined sales and income tax," said Shor.
Secretary Shor says the governor's budget will raise billions in revenue – Making it possible to significantly invest in transportation, education and stimulate economic growth. But lawmakers questioned whether the governor's $35 billion dollar spending budget asks taxpayers for too much, too fast.
"With all these things in play, with all the priorities we're trying to address, why not slow the pace?" asked Rep. Brain Demspey (D-Haverhill), House Chairman of the Joint Committee on Ways and Means.
"Based on the strategic restraint, you heard it here from the Chairman, some of the members, you know, should we wait for the gaming revenues to start coming in?" asked Sen. Michael Knapik (R-Westfield). "Wouldn't that be a more prudent course?"
The Patrick administration says it's necessary to make investments now to stimulate economic growth and that doing nothing could cost the state millions of dollars in the form of deteriorating roads, bridges and public transportation.