NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

January 24, 2013

Patrick outlines 'growth budget' built on tax increases

(Continued)

House Minority Leader Brad Jones, a North Reading Republican, accused Patrick of “prioritizing his legacy over the needs of the commonwealth’s residents.”

“The administration’s method of reckless taxation as a means toward revenue, while tapping into the `Rainy Day’ fund, is both shortsighted and extremely irresponsible. I encourage Gov. Patrick himself to engage the commonwealth’s residents in the factual debate that he so desperately wants to conduct,” Jones said.

The governor’s budget includes $75.5 million in additional funding for innovation and job creation, including a $10 million increase to $25 million for the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, and $18.75 million from gaming license revenue to jumpstart the Advanced Manufacturing Futures Program created in 2012 that the administration projects will create or retain 1,856 jobs in the next five years.

Regional school transportation is level funded in the budget at $44.5 million, cities and towns will see $230 million through the special education circuit breaker and library aid is level funded at $16 million.

The budget also recommends capping the popular, but also controversial, film tax credit program at $40 million a year, a response Patrick said was in part due to concerns that the money was being used to fund the excessive salaries of movie stars.

As he outlined two weeks ago in a series of announcements, Patrick is also proposing to freeze the unemployment insurance rate, reform the municipal unemployment benefit system, consolidate the more than 240 local housing authorities into six regional authorities and enhance oversight of sterile compounding pharmacies in the wake of the nationwide fungal meningitis outbreak.

The budget also relies on $83 million in gaming revenue the governor expects to collect in 2014 after the first licenses are issued, only a portion of which is being counted on for recurring operating budget costs, officials said.

The governor is estimating the state will also collect $26.2 million next year from its agreement with Amazon to begin collecting sales taxes on purchases made in Massachusetts, and proposes to collect an additional $24 million by expanding the bottle redemption law to bottled water and sports drinks. Like his candy, soda and tobacco tax proposals, Patrick’s bid to expand the bottle law failed to make it through the Legislature last session.

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