Phineas Baxandall is the Policy Director at the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center. His past research at MassBudget focused on transportation, tax policy, and unemployment.
Before joining MassBudget, Phineas directed the Transportation and Tax & Budget programs for the U.S. Public Interest Research Group and its network of 30 state affiliate organizations.
Prior to his work with U.S. PIRG, Phineas was Assistant Director at the Taubman Center for State and Local Government and the Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He was a teaching fellow for eight years at Harvard’s Committee for Degrees in Social Studies, where he lectured on social policy and political economy. He has published on a variety of topics in political economy and public policy, and his 2004 book, Constructing Unemployment, was recently republished by Routledge press.
Phineas earned a Ph.D. from MIT in Political Science and a B.A. from Wesleyan University.
Sometimes a “surplus” is not really a surplus at all, and the term “tax surplus” can be particularly misleading. A tax surplus occurs when tax collections come in higher than the amount expected when the state created its budget at the beginning of the fiscal year. When that initial estimate turns out to be too low, there is a “surplus.” It does not mean that the state budget has already met the needs of the moment or that there is extra unneeded revenue.
The Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center was asked to outline options for changes to the estate tax that would preserve revenue, maintain progressivity, and also cut taxes on or exempt estates with a taxable value up to around $1.2 million. Since households subject to the estate tax are among the state’s wealthiest taxpayers, any reductions to revenue from the estate tax represent a transfer of wealth from the Commonwealth to its wealthiest families. Even so, some options are better than others.
This one-page summary of a longer report outlines how Massachusetts has underinvested in its transportation infrastructure, and greater investment can improve the economy, equity, and the environment.