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Economists urge Beacon Hill to raise taxes

Taunton Daily Gazette, by Michael Norton, State House News Service

"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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