Local pols react to state of the state

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick delivers his State of the State address in the House Chambers at the Statehouse in Boston Wednesday. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

WESTFIELD – During his state of the state address this week Gov. Deval Patrick proposed a $1.9 billion tax increase to invest in education and transportation, which local politicians say is not the answer to the commonwealth’s woes.
While state Sen. Michael R. Knapik (R-Westfield), state Rep. Donald Humason (R-Westfield), and state Rep. Nicholas Boldyga (R-Southwick) agreed that education and transportation are priorities, they said working class families cannot take another hit.
“When is enough enough?” said Boldyga. “This is similar to other legislation that affects people who are out there working.”
Boldyga said Patrick spoke about increasing income tax to 6.25 percent. Instead, Boldyga said the government should concentrate on welfare reform and the fraud and abuse of that system.
“We’re giving about a half billion dollars in cash benefits to people on assistance and another billion-and-a-half in food stamps, and that doesn’t include housing and educational programs,” he said. “And, we know there’s fraud and abuse out there  – we need to look at that before taxing the working class.”
Boldyga said he is filing legislation that would fight the abuse of the electronic benefits system (EBT), which he said he hopes will “spark the debate” on the topic.
Knapik said if the income tax reached 6.25 percent it would be the largest tax increase in the history of Massachusetts and noted that residents voted to go back to five percent several years ago and it has not been decreased.
Knapik said just today a new report revealed that the Commonwealth’s unemployment rate has increased to 6.7 percent, making it a more difficult time to increase taxes.
“This is the first governor in 22 years to propose increasing the income tax,” said Knapik. “We have to live within our means.”
Knapik said spending a billion dollars on high speed rails from Springfield to Boston and Pittsfield to New York is not a priority.
“Let’s focus on fixing our transportation infrastructure that already exists,” he said. “Governor Romney had a ‘fix it first’ philosophy that we need to get back to.”
Humason criticized the Governor and said the proposals in his address were “absolutely not in line with what I’d like to see happening.”
“His address was interesting because it was much more optimistic than reality would dictate,” said Humason, citing Patrick’s statement that the state is still in a “rocky” sitation, but it’s getting better.
“As much as the Governor wants to paint that picture, I live in the real world,” Humason said.
The tax increase Patrick suggested is something working class families just can’t afford, said Humason.
“He wants to spend money on education and transportation, which are priorities I agree with, but let’s cut in other places like people on assistance that we can’t even find.  That would free-up revenue to help people who really need assistance, or enhance educational opportunities, or improve transportation.”
Humason said Patrick gave a great speech.  However, it was not based on what Humason believes is the reality for the people of Massachusetts, particularly in greater Springfield.
“Governor Patrick is a great speaker and a nice guy, but I don’t know if we live in the same world,” Humason said. “We’ve done it [the Democrats’] way for years and it hasn’t gotten us very far.”

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