Friday, March 1, 2013

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Some Dems tell Deval Patrick to Take Hike Over $1.9B Plan
Thursday, February 28, 2013
By Chris Cassidy
Fearful of an Election Day reckoning, skittish Democrats say they aren’t buying Gov. Deval Patrick’s latest sales pitch for his proposed $1.9 billion tax hike: a new website that spells out the taxpayer largesse he’s promising for their districts.
One rep even suggested Patrick brush up on his history. 
“I explained the election of 1990 to the governor,” said state Rep. John Binienda (D-Worcester), referring to the year dozens of Democratic lawmakers were booted after party power brokers backed the largest tax increase in state history. “The governor’s not coming back. He’s finishing off his term and he’s gone. I don’t know how many people he’s going to get to fall on their sword for him.”
Patrick rolled out the website yesterday, complete with 400 maps that purport to show how much new education and transportation revenue would flood into each of their Senate and House districts if lawmakers vote to approve the governor’s massive tax and fee hikes.
“The first thing my constituents want to see is that we continue to reform programs like EBT,” said Tom Golden (D-Lowell). “I don’t believe my constituents are anywhere near accepting of a tax increase yet. I think we need to continue to let him sell his plan.”
A day earlier, Patrick held a closed-door meeting in the Corner Office with about 15 reluctant Democratic lawmakers and tried to convince them to support his plan.
Binienda left the confab unswayed. 
“The people I represent are not rich people, and they’re watching every dime they have,” Binienda said. “Look at the price of gasoline. ... Now he’s messing around with the gas tax.”
House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo, who has yet to embrace the governor’s proposal, remained skeptical, even after seeing the new funds members would get for schools and road repair in their districts.
“The maps Governor Patrick distributed today are one more thing for the House to consider as it evaluates his ambitious and complex set of changes to our state’s tax policies,” spokesman Seth Gitell said.
Patrick rejected the idea he’s losing the Beacon Hill battle with his own party.  “Nope. I’m not,” he said. “Legislators also see people want more transportation, not less. They want grade schools for everybody, not inadequate schools.”
A Patrick spokeswoman said the Tuesday meeting was a “general conversation” about the governor’s plan.  “He’s been meeting with various groups of legislators on the plan since he announced it to make the case for these investments,” spokeswoman Heather Johnson said, “and this was just another of the opportunities for him.”
Meanwhile, small business owners are mobilizing against the tax hikes. 
“Our small business owners obviously think education and transportation are important. There’s no argument there. But the argument is, ‘Don’t we already pay enough?’” said Bill Vernon, Massachusetts director of the National Federation of Independent Business.
The group, which represents roughly 8,000 small businesses in Massachusetts, just surveyed its members and found 92 percent oppose the tax hikes.

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