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Think tank: limit borrowing as part of state budget fix

In a report published Tuesday, the left-leaning Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center argues that policymakers can maintain state spending on public services and programs despite the devastating financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic if they limit deficit financing, tap into the state’s $3.5 billion reserves and adopt “new policies to increase revenue.”

“Collecting additional progressive taxes to protect Massachusetts public spending against cuts will advance economic recovery by ensuring that more funds will be spent now on goods and services in Massachusetts. This is a clear lesson from the Great Recession,” Phineas Baxandall, MassBudget’s senior policy analyst who wrote the report, said. “A 2015 study by the Congressional Budget Office examining the Great Recession found taxes have a net positive impact on the economy when they are used to support public spending during a recession. For every additional dollar of revenue raised from these taxes, economy activity drops by less than a dollar.”

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Letter: Vulnerable communities badly need assistance

Hardship is widespread, but Black, Latinx, indigenous and immigrant families have been particularly hard hit, with the crisis exacerbating long-standing inequities in health care, education, employment, and housing that stem largely from structural racism. Our community partners have shared countless stories about the persistent trauma facing kids and families in their communities. We must act now.

The country and commonwealth that I love and care for support people who are going hungry, losing their homes and jobs. Federal policymakers must act, by ensuring that all those who need it get direct cash and other supports to meet their basic needs. Additional federal aid is a clear-cut solution to keep people safe and get our economy back on track.

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The federal government must step in to assist those in need during pandemic, not play political games (Letters)

The Republican and MassLive, September 21, 2020

With 11.3% unemployment, MA has one of the highest rates in the nation. Almost 1 in 12 Massachusetts adults with children say they can’t afford enough food for their kids, and 1 in 7 renters are behind on rent, according to a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Hardship is widespread, but Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and immigrant families have been particularly hard hit, with the crisis exacerbating long-standing inequities in health care, education, employment, and housing that stem largely from structural racism. Our community partners have shared countless stories about the persistent trauma facing kids and families in their communities. We must act now.

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Corporate, cap gains tax hikes favored in new poll

“It’s undeniable that this recession and public health crisis is hitting low-income communities and communities of color the hardest, and state budget cuts threaten to make things even worse. Without action, damaging budget cuts to schools and colleges, hospitals, safety net programs, and other public services will worsen the economic pain, send us deeper into a recession, and intensify racial inequities,” Marie-Frances Rivera, president of the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center said in a Raise Up press release. “By asking the well-off to pay a little more with these three proven policies, Massachusetts can generate the revenue needed to prevent devastating budget cuts and instead invest in a robust and just recovery for all.”

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Employers face huge hike in UI taxes

Phineas Baxandall, a senior analyst at the left-leaning Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, argued that agreeing to scale back the system would only set the state up to fall short at protecting its residents from future economic harm.

“To me, one of the real lessons from the last months is how the unemployment system has saved the Massachusetts economy from freefall,” Baxandall said. “It has saved us from a chain reaction in which layoffs erase consumer demand and even workers with jobs cease spending because they’re just a pink slip away from destitution.”

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Income, capital gains tax dropping to 5 percent in 2020

Not everyone is celebrating. “The income tax is one of the few revenue sources that asks high-income people to pay in-line with their larger bank rolls,” said Phineas Baxandall, senior analyst at the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center. “Repeated cuts to the income tax rate are a big reason that Massachusetts’ tax system is upside-down. Those with higher incomes end up paying a smaller share of their income, on average, than moderate- and low-income taxpayers pay.”

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Study Of 150 City Budgets Finds Boston Better Off Than Most

“Property taxes are stable so long as property values are stable,” Baxandall, from the Mass. Budget and Policy Center, said. And while a 4% decline in revenue might be a lot less than the hit other cities are expected to take, “the money has to come from somewhere,” he said.

“If we have to furlough teachers, first responders, cancel repair budgets, that’s money which would be circulating in the community,” Baxandall said. “It’s going to be painful.”

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Raise taxes for a fair recovery

Commonwealth Magazine, August 14, 2020

Now is the time to take the reins to determine our own destiny. All of us can call on the federal government to provide our people and state governments with financial supports, just as it did in the Great Recession. The Legislature has options: it can use our state’s multi-billion-dollar Rainy-Day Fund, take advantage of borrowing, or raise taxes by asking those who have benefited most from our economy to pay their fair share. By raising taxes on unearned income like dividends and capital gains, for instance, Massachusetts can ensure a fair and equitable recovery for black, brown, and other communities who have historically been left on the margins. We all should have the resources we need to participate in our recovery — that is equity.

Government budgets are a statement of our collective priorities. Reducing inequality should be part of the economic calculus of how states and localities balance their budgets. This pandemic has shown how little cushion many of our communities of color and low-income people have to weather the economic slowdown. Without adequate revenue from the federal government and our wealthy neighbors and corporations, we can’t make the investments we need for a strong and equitable recovery.

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President Trump Takes Executive Action On Coronavirus Relief, Bypassing Congress

Bypassing Congress on Saturday, President Trump issued a set of executive orders and memoranda to deliver emergency pandemic aid. The actions are ambiguous and raise a lot of questions. We break down what they mean for Massachusetts with Marie-Frances Rivera, President at the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center.

We also hear from Michael Capuano, former Massachusetts Congressman and now the public affairs director for Foley and Lardner, and from WBUR legal analyst Nancy Gertner. She’s a retired federal judge and a senior lecturer at Harvard Law School.

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Short-term budgets keep state afloat

“Baker and legislative leaders have agreed to maintain level spending for local aid and Chapter 70 funding this fiscal year, but that doesn’t protect against cuts to other agencies and programs.

‘If there are cuts to public programs it would be the worst thing for deepening our recession, because this is money that wouldn’t be spent in state,” said Phineas Baxandall, a senior policy analyst with the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center. “We need commitments to protect those programs.'”

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State school aid level-funded

Commonwealth Magazine, July 30, 2020

But Colin Jones, senior budget analyst for the liberal-leaning Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, said it is a “complex” question to figure out how much money schools need compared to how much they will get from state and federal funding.

“What we were going to do was $300 million to do inflation and (Student Opportunity Act), and we didn’t have COVID costs to worry about,” Jones said.

Now, schools have added expenses for masks, hand sanitizer and cleaning equipment, to retrofit spaces and improve ventilation. They must figure out how to incorporate remote and in-person learning and how to run less crowded buses.

“What would it take to make Lynn, Chelsea, Holyoke and Boston’s facilities, rooms and buses ready for that?” Jones asked. “That number conceptually we don’t know, but it’s much more probably than what we’re getting and what’s available now.”

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Immigrant driver’s license bill stalls in House

WHDH, July 28, 2020

Close to 200,000 undocumented immigrants live in Massachusetts, of which 41,000 to 78,000 would qualify and likely apply for licenses within three years of the bill’s implementation, according to an analysis from the left-leaning Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center.

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Malden resident Nichole Mossalam challenges in 35th Middlesex District race

Wicked Local Medford, July 27, 2020

Mossalam points to research by the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center which found that cuts to the personal income tax since the late 1990s cost the state $4 billion annually.

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Trump seeks to squeeze immigrants out of apportionment

The Salem News, July 22, 2020

There are approximately 185,000 undocumented immigrants in Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center estimated last year.

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Trump targets those in US illegally from reapportionment

Worcester Telegram, July 21, 2020

Approximately 185,000 undocumented immigrants are in Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center estimated last year.

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