The future of Massachusetts depends on the decisions we make today. From the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s, Massachusetts cut taxes dramatically, leading to devastating cuts in transportation, human services, local aid for cities and towns, and more.
Too much bone has been cut from essential investments. It’s time to invest in our systems for education, human services and transportation to ensure our state can compete effectively in the global economy. Without an educated workforce and the ability to get people from middle class communities to thriving work places, Massachusetts can forget about long-term economic growth.
Recognizing these realities, Gov. Deval Patrick has put forward a bold plan to increase state revenues by almost $2 billion per year. Thanks to the progressive structure of his plan, low-income families will see a modest tax cut. The biggest contribution will come from the wealthiest among us, although middle-class families will have to chip in as well. This could be his finest hour.
If this plan is enacted, we will all reap the benefits. The Green Line expansion across Somerville will reduce traffic on Cambridge Street and Beacon Street and add value to East Cambridge, Wellington-Harrington and Inman Square. Commuter service to Fall River and New Bedford and expanded rail service statewide will unlock less expensive housing for people who work in Boston while reducing highway congestion. Dozens of other smaller long overdue transportation maintenance and improvement projects will finally go forward. Expanded investments in extended day programs for middle school students and early learning in the critical 0-5 age range targeted at the cities with the least resources will result in a better-trained workforce and a more vibrant economy.
A good society costs money. I am willing to pay my share to invest in maintaining and improving all the things I love about Massachusetts, especially when I know those who have the most will be asked to make the biggest contribution. Kudos to the governor for having the courage to stand up for what’s right, and to Progressive Mass, the Massachusetts Teachers Association, Community Labor United and other citizens’ groups out there fighting to get this done. I know our Democratic state legislators will be on the right side in this critical battle, right?
A version of this post ran locally on Cambridge Day.