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The Pandemic Persists: Pain Points for the Children of Massachusetts

Policymakers have the responsibility and an opportunity to make smart and fair policy choices that will support children and families. This is particularly true now …

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Unemployment Insurance Saved the Massachusetts Economy. How Can We Ensure It Will Be Strong for the Future?

More than any other economic program, Unemployment Insurance (UI) has helped the Massachusetts economy during the COVID-19 pandemic. UI enabled many families to remain safe …

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Statement on Senate Ways and Means Committee’s FY 2021 Budget

Read the statement by Marie-Frances Rivera, president of the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center (MassBudget), on the Senate Ways and Means Committee’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Budget.

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Economists urge Beacon Hill to raise taxes

"Large cuts would erode the health and social infrastructure needed to continue combatting COVID-19, increase an already high level of inequality, and exacerbate the economic downturn. Instead of budget cuts, the state should look to raise revenues to balance its budget," the economists wrote in a letter to Gov. Charlie Baker and legislative leaders that was distributed Tuesday by the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center.

Raising the personal income tax and the corporate tax "are fair ways to do this, since they fall only on persons with incomes and businesses with profits," the economists wrote, projecting that a 1 percentage point increase in the income tax could raise $2.5 billion per year while a 1 percentage point increase in the corporate tax rate could raise $180 million per year "even if the income tax base falls by 25 percent and the corporate tax base falls by 50 percent during this recession." This is not the time for an austerity budget," MassBudget President Marie-Frances Rivera said in a statement. "The economists' letter underscores how public spending cuts would lengthen an oncoming recession, as it would take money out of our local economy that would otherwise recirculate and spur economic activity. Furloughing public employees, cutting state contracts to businesses and nonprofits, and reducing assistance to municipalities and low-income families will take money out of the Massachusetts economy, prolonging and deepening the recession. Avoiding budget cuts through targeted tax increases is the best way to build a strong recovery in Massachusetts."

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Other revenue options besides personal income tax

Massachusetts faces crucial decisions about how to fund our public services, and thus I deeply appreciated the perspective of economists Alicia Sasser-Modestino, Alan Clayton-Matthews, and Michael Goodman in their recent op-ed (With plummeting revenues, state should impose a temporary tax increase, Opinion, May 16). As we face an unprecedented economic freefall, cuts to public services will do far more damage than asking people who can afford it to contribute a little more in taxes.

While the authors refer to an increase in the personal income tax to help offset revenue declines, there are many other options to fund the essential services we all rely on. Among them, are dozens of ineffective corporate tax breaks that together now cost the Commonwealth over $1 billion a year. One example: The single sales factor tax break forfeits $180 million per year to mutual fund companies, an industry that has shed thousands of jobs in our state over the last two decades. As state revenues plummet, we must discuss the most effective use of these dollars during this unprecedented crisis.

With so many of our friends and families undergoing economic distress, how we invest in our people and the public good, including health care, schools, and transit will reflect our values now more than ever.

– Marie-Frances Rivera, President, MassBudget

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Testimony Supporting Act to Provide Equal Stimulus Checks to Immigrant Taxpayers

Testimony supporting legislation for state stimulus checks for taxpayers excluded from federal benefits because they pay taxes with an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) instead of a social security number.

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