A Healthy Blog

Massachusetts health care — wonky, with a healthy dose of reality

Increase Taxes! Stop the Cuts! (Rally, Noon Monday)

Increase Taxes! Stop the Cuts! (Rally, Noon Monday)

May 15, 2009

We're going to go beyond some of the more polite euphemisms, like "revenue enhancements," and say what we mean: Massachusetts should increase taxes.

We’ve talked about the bad news from the Senate Ways & Means Committee’s FY10 budget proposal nearly all week, so you’re familiar with the story. The Senate has made over $2 billion in cuts to the state budget. These cuts hurt families, children, vulnerable citizens and everyone’s basic quality of life. With the Committee’s proposal, thousands of residents will lose important benefits (like dental coverage) and many more will lose their health care coverage all together. This is an irresponsible approach to the promises the Commonwealth has made to its residents.

Moreover, an increase in taxes is good for the economy. The Mass Budget and Policy Center explains the economics, as did a distinguished group of over 200 economists:

Economic theory and historical experience both show that raising taxes during a downturn—particularly taxes that affect only higher-income families—is generally better for a state’s economy, and better for its citizens, than sharp budget cuts.

The reasons are simple. Almost every dollar that states and localities spend on aid for the needy, salaries of public employees, and other vital services enters the local economy immediately. So if states cut their spending in these areas, overall demand suffers at a time when demand is already too low and support services are most needed.

The alternative—raising taxes—also reduces spending, but by less than budget cuts of comparable size. And by targeting these taxes appropriately, their negative effects can be minimized.
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Keeping budget cuts to a minimum can also benefit the states in another way. Well-designed investments in education, health care, transportation, the environment, and other areas strengthen the economy over the long term. States with educated, healthy workforces, strong infrastructure, and a high quality of life will be best positioned to benefit from the economic recovery.

In short, we believe that maintaining many of the services provided by state governments is critical to an economic recovery, and that cutting those services would harm those who are most in need.

With Senate budget debate expected to begin next Tuesday, the Stop the Cuts Coalition is leading a State House rally and lobby day at noon on Monday, in Room 437. Health Care For All is a member of the Stop the Cuts Coalition and we hope that you’ll support us by attending the rally and telling the Senate to stop these cuts by raising new revenues to invest in our communities and more importantly, our people.

Click to take a look at the event flyer and here for more information on how you can get involved.
Jessica Hamilton