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Revenue reform needed

Feb. 27, 2013 |

Over the past decade tax cuts in our state have substantially reduced revenue with dramatic reductions in nearly every state program. From 2000 to 2012 the amount lost in local aid, adjusted for inflation was for Agawam – 37.8 percent, Chicopee – 42.1 percent; Holyoke – 43.4 percent; Southwick – 28.5 percent; Springfield – 39.9 percent; West Springfield – 35.5 percent and Westfield – 36.6 percent. (www.ourcommunities.org). Many critical state programs have been damaged if not destroyed. Last year the PVTA (Pioneer Vally Transit Authority) proposed 2013 budget would have increased fares for individual transportation in Agawam from $2.50 to $7.50 each way. Community groups protested the increases, but without significantly more state revenue the proposal will doubtless come again. We need adequate revenue to protect the things we care about, that matter like our schools, drinking water, parks, roads, public safety systems, and services to older residents such as meals on wheels and in – home care. It has been years since the phrase "Taxachusetts" describes our state. Per the U.S. Census Massachusetts ranked 25th in Taxes in FY – 2010 (www.massbudget.org – enter Massachusetts Tax Ranking in search). Gov. Patrick has saved billions by reducing inefficiency and waste, addressing long term liabilities, state workforce reductions, controlling health care and energy costs, reforming Transportation and more. The governor's proposed revenue reform protects lower and moderate income earners by roughly doubling the personal exemption. About 50 percent of taxpayers, including most earning up to $60,000. per year would pay the same or less. Only those in the extreme upper income brackets would pay significantly more. Another revenue reform proposal, "An Act to Invest in Our Communities," which also protects low and middle income families has been filed in the Legislature. The exact form revenue reform takes needs serious consideration and ultimately the Legislature will come up with its own plan to send to the governor. We should all, however, be able to agree that: our state needs substantially more new revenue; revenue must be raised in a fair way; and many services in the state need to be addressed to invest now for long term growth and our current and future well being. Corinne M. Wingard Agawam

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