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February 25, 2013

Report: Gov.'s first draft had no tax hike

BOSTON — The transportation financing plan Gov. Deval Patrick sent back for more work last month did not include an income tax increase — a controversial proposal added to the final draft and a key underpinning of the proposal he is now trying to push through the Legislature.

Called “The Way Forward,” the document itemizes the expansion projects, reforms and overall funding that would be enabled by a roughly $1 billion annual revenue infusion to transportation. Patrick has made transportation system investments and education funding the basis for his tax proposal, which would raise $1.9 billion in new revenue by coupling plans to end an array of tax incentives with a reduction in the sales tax to 4.5 percent and an increase in the income tax to 6.25 percent.

On Friday, Jan. 4, Patrick said he had sent back the transportation plan “to make sure that we are making sure that we are focusing on the economic growth opportunities in every corner of the Commonwealth, and that the plan reflects that.”

The Jan. 3 draft, obtained by the News Service through a public records request, included many revenue ideas that were featured in the final version, but were not included in Patrick’s revenue-raising budget proposal, such as a payroll tax, which is similar to an income tax, a tax on the number of miles a vehicle has traveled and a sales tax increase.

Patrick and Transportation Secretary Richard Davey unveiled the plan on Jan. 14. The board of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation was required to vote on and submit a long-term transportation financing plan, along with proposed legislation and recommendations by Jan. 7, according to a June 2012 law that gave the MBTA a $49 million bailout.

Board member Alan MacDonald said that he provided informal suggestions to the MassDOT staff drafting the report, and said they were reflected in the finished product.

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