WOBURN - State Rep. James Dwyer, D-Woburn, responded to Gov. Deval Patrick’s State-of-the-State address by claiming he prefers cost-saving measures over an increase in the state income tax.
Patrick’s speech on Wednesday mentioned the possible revival of the dormant I-93/I-95 cloverleaf project at the Woburn/Reading line. The governor said he would propose a 1 percent increase in the income tax to 6.25 percent, and a decrease in the sales tax rate from 6.25 percent to 4.5 percent, with the proceeds from the sales tax devoted toward education and transportation projects.
“While we can all agree that our transportation system is crumbling and educational excellence is key to our future, I am very concerned with the Governor asking hard-working taxpayers to contribute more in an income tax increase,” wrote Dwyer, in a press release the day after Patrick’s speech.
“I agree with the governor that there is never a good time to raise taxes. However, I know that the people I represent expect their government to do everything in their power to root out fraud, abuse, and programs that are not working to ensure that their tax dollars are being spent efficiently and responsibly,” he added.
Dwyer’s 30th Middlesex district includes Wards 2-6 in Woburn, and Precincts 2-5 in Reading.
In his speech, Patrick cited the Woburn/Reading cloverleaf and the Route 128/I-95 intersection in Canton. The reconfiguration of the 93/95 cloverleaf was proposed about 15 years ago, but stalled due to local opposition and then the economic downturn.
According to MassDOT, the state’s transportation agency, the project is slated for construction funding sometime between 2026-30, when the cost could exceed $500 million.
“Imagine that the interchanges on (Route) 128 in Canton and Woburn were smoothed out and you didn’t have to add 45 minutes to your commute at rush hour just to get through the bottlenecks,” said Patrick.
An increase in the income tax will raise an estimated $2 billion in revenue at a time when “the worst of the recession is over,” though he acknowledged “many families still face tough decisions and have deep anxiety about the future.
“I would not ask (for an increase in the income tax) if I did not believe in my heart that investing meaningfully today in education and transportation will significantly improve our economic tomorrows,” said Patrick.
The governor’s tax changes will have to be approved by the state Legislature, which may be a tough sell though it is dominated by Patrick’s fellow Democrats.
“Without an effort to reassure the taxpayers that reforms are being made to root out these causal problems in government, it's unfair and out-of-touch to be asking for more revenue to fund two ambitious initiatives,” wrote Dwyer.
“I will be more inclined to work with my colleagues to make reforms, end failing programs, and to find cost cutting measures in order to finance projects that are important to our transportation system, including the Route 93/95 Interchange in Woburn and Reading or the many other transportation projects my district is seeking funding for. I look forward to working towards common sense solutions that have the best interests of the taxpayers of the 30th Middlesex district in mind,” he added.