Weston Representative Reflects on Governor's Budget Proposal
Weston Rep. Alice Peisch said she needed some time to work through the governor's $34.8 billion budget proposal.
When Gov. Deval Patrick announced his $34.8 billion budget proposal last week, Weston representative Alice Peisch (D-Wellesley) said she felt a certain amount of surprise over some of the elements, but was glad to see several of the governor's recommendations.
In particular, Peisch said she was generally pleased to see Patrick's emphasis on transportation and education, but still needed some time to "digest" the details, particularly the suggested changes in the tax structure and what exactly would be funded under the proposed transportation and education elements.
Patrick's proposal asks for an increase in the state income tax from 5.25 percent to 6.25 percent coupled with a reduction in the sales tax from 6.25 percent to 4.5 percent. It also doubles personal exemptions.
"Overall, it's a very bold move," said Peisch. "I share [the governor's] interest and support for the two big pieces that are getting attention. I was expecting proposals to increase revenues for our transportation deficit. I was surprised by the magnitude of the education funding."
The budget calls for a total investment of $6.79 billion in education next year, with $131 million going toward early education, $226 million in Chapter 70 local aid, and $152 million toward making college more affordable and accessible.
"I am and have always been a strong advocate for public education," Peisch said, adding that the governor's outline for the education funding was broad. "It's a fair amount of money. I need to see what he's proposing."
In transportation funding, Patrick is asking for a $13 billion capital investment over 10 years, including money to repair roads and create a public transportation system that is modern and reliable.
"Certainly the transportation funding should be helpful," Peisch said, adding that she supports improving existing infrastructure before investing substantially in expanding the system. "The lack of investment in the commuter rail has led to many problems. We need to invest in making sure the infrastructure we have is in good repair."
When it comes to the tax changes, Peisch said the income tax change wasn't entirely surprising, but the amount and its coupling with the sales tax change were.
Peisch explained that she anticipated an income tax hike, but not necessarily the amount.
"I'm very mindful of the fact we're still in a difficult economic situation and raising taxes has consequences," Peisch said. "I really have to understand what the impact of that is."
The $34.8 billion budget reflects a 6.9 percent increase from last year and would create $828 million in new revenue.