Governor Deval L. Patrick
Video Message on Legislature's Sales Tax Increase Proposal
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
As House lawmakers craft their budget proposal this week, Governor Patrick recorded a message to the citizens of Massachusetts about the Legislature's sales tax increase proposal.
"I am unwilling to wait any longer to change the way we do business in state government," said Governor Patrick. "In fact, I am unwilling to ask you to support revenue increases without real reforms."
Governor Deval Patrick
Hi, this is Governor Patrick. The national economy has caused a severe decline in our state budget. There will be much discussion on Beacon Hill this week and in the months ahead on how to deal with a serious budget crisis. Declining revenues have forced us to cut essential services already. And as we prepare a budget for the next fiscal year, we have to make even more difficult cuts.
Cutting spending is part of what's necessary in times like this - in state government just like in most households and businesses. in state government just like in most households and businesses. We have cut over $1.3 billion already this year and expect to cut more next year.
But our budget problem cannot be solved with cuts alone. To fund public schools, to provide services to the elderly, to protect the most vulnerable among us, and to deliver roads, trains and bridges that are safe and reliable, we need new revenue.
You know that. But like me, you also know that those of us in state government have a responsibility to change the way we do business, first. We have put a number of solutions on the table to accomplish just that. And though we've made great strides in the past two years, there is more we can and must do to reform the transportation system, the pension system, the ethics rules, the way cities and towns finance themselves, and much more. We believe that these changes can save over a billion dollars over the next twenty years.
Unless we pass those reforms, I will not support a sales tax increase and will veto it if comes to my desk.
Like I said, I know we need new revenue to provide the essential services we all want. I believe that in the current economic and political climate, the best approach is through targeted tax increases dedicated to specific needs: a gas tax to pay for better roads and bridges; local option taxes to take the pressure off the property tax; and removing the sales tax exemption from candy, soda and alcohol to help pay for public health programs. If someone has a better approach, I'm open to it. But I am unwilling to wait to change the way we do business in state government until we act on new revenues. In fact, I am unwilling to ask you to support revenue increases without real reforms.
In my State of the Commonwealth address in January, I called on the Legislature to join me in a season of reform. Well, Winter has now turned to Spring, and we still have not delivered on that call. Before we pass new revenue, let's prove we can bring real change to Beacon Hill.
I look forward to working with all members of the legislature to help find a solution. But we can't make this change without you. So call your State Rep and Senator. Tell them you want real reform. Ask them to support a simplified and accountable transportation network, to end pension abuses, to strengthen our ethics rules, and to give cities and towns better ways to save costs and support local services. For more information, call my office at (617) 725-4000, or visit mass.gov/governor.
We owe it to you, the people of Massachusetts to use this opportunity to change the way we approach problems, and to work together on a more comprehensive solution that will provide not only the revenue we need, but also real reforms and real change in the way we do the people's business.