Patrick’s vision

Rick Holmes

I’ll let you read the details elsewhere. The main thrust is a reduction in the sales tax, which would then be dedicated to getting the state’s transportation system repaired and expanded. The income tax would be raised, from 5.25 to 6.25 percent, with a bunch of deductions eliminated, to pay for, among other things, major new investments in education.

Patrick has said in the past he wishes Massachusetts had a progressive income tax, which would require a constitutional amendment and has been rejected by voters several times. But his new plan shows there’s more than one way to skin that cat.  According to the administration, his proposal, if enacted, would cut taxes by an average $200 a year for those with an adjusted gross income under $21,570, cut taxes $100 for those earning up to $37,523, raise taxes $100 for those earning $37,523-$60,414, raise taxes $400 for those earning up to $102,886, and raise them an average of $3,200 for those earning more than that.

As Patrick understands, income inequality has risen sharply in Massachusetts over the last two decades. The thrust of his transportation plan is to extend prosperity beyond the Boston metro area to the slums of Fall River, the backwoods of Athol and the tough neighborhoods of Holyoke. His education initiatives are aimed at closing the achievement gap and making public education the “great equalizer” it has always been for Massachusetts.

We’ll see what the details reveal. And the Legislature is unlikely to give him anything as simple or sweeping as he has proposed.  But as an opening gambit, it’s a pretty interesting one, revealing a principled vision and a desire to leave a legacy beyond filling potholes and tinkering with the bureaucracy.