Hold Baker and Mariano to No Tax Increase Positions [OPINION]
When politicians pledge "no new taxes," it's time to get nervous. That often means that new or increased taxes are imminent. Remember when George H.W. Bush told you to read his lips and all of that?
Massachusetts lost billions of dollars in revenues as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, Governor Charlie Baker and the legislative leadership had to take money from the Commonwealth's "rainy day" account to fund their spending priorities for the current fiscal year. While revenues are rebounding, it might not be enough.
Baker has submitted a $45.6 billion budget for the fiscal years that begins on July 1. Baker's budget would reduce spending by 0.7 percent, or $300 million. His plan would not raise income taxes on residents, according to the State House News Service.
The new House Speaker Ronald Mariano appears reluctant to talk about raising taxes at this point either.
"Right now, taxes are not on the table. We have no intention of raising taxes," Mariano told WCVB's On the Record program on Sunday. Right now, says the speaker. What about next week or next month?
Baker recently agreed to a gas tax increase as part of the Transportation and Climate Initiative with Rhode Island and Connecticut. Mariano's Democratic Party has been calling for a host of new taxes as well. But both men are savvy enough to know that the electorate is angry, and each faces re-election next year.
The nation is undergoing political upheaval, and the pandemic has left voters grouchy. Anything can happen next year, so perhaps avoiding tax increases would be a good idea if they hope to survive politically. An overall reduction in state spending might be what the doctor ordered at this time.
Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.