EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

March 22, 2013

Patrick's tax plans play to mixed reviews at Valley event

HAVERHILL — Gov. Deval Patrick was intent on selling his sweeping tax plan to Merrimack Valley business and political leaders yesterday, but it met with mixed reviews.

Speaking to about 300 people at a Merrimack Valley Chamber of Commerce breakfast at DiBurro’s Function Facility, Patrick said his plan is needed to pay for upgrades to the state’s transportation and education systems. It includes raising $1.9 billion in revenue through a series of changes to the state tax code.

“While I understand the governor’s position and his reasoning for it, it’s too ambitious, knowing the concerns in my district of working families who have seen their property taxes increase, federal taxes increase and meals tax hikes,” said freshman state Rep. Diana DiZoglio, D-Methuen.

She said she wanted to wait and see what the budget looks like after it comes out of the Ways and Means Committee.

Rep. Linda Dean Campbell, D-Methuen, said the state can’t afford the governor’s transportation plan.

“I see transportation spending like a mortgage on the house,” she said. “And he’s recommending we put an addition on the house before we pay for what we have now.”

Lawrence City Council President Dan Rivera, during a question-and-answer session between the governor and audience members, said while he appreciated the emphasis on transportation and education, he felt the state needs to overhaul the public safety system in the same way education reform overhauled the state’s school system in the early 1990s.

“If state support for public safety goes down, the ability for us to keep our streets safe goes down,” he said. Lawrence Mayor William Lantigua was not at the breakfast, saying at an event later in the day that he had a “previous engagement.”

Other audience members mentioned the cost of health care as continuing to have a stranglehold on business growth.

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