Gloucester Times Praises Gov. Baker’s Approach To Reining In Borrowing

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

July 14, 2015
“An Approach We Feel Is Best For Massachusetts And Its Taxpayers”

BOSTON — In an editorial today, the Gloucester Times praises Governor Baker’s approach to reining in state borrowing, criticizing tax-and-spend Democrats for opposing the plan: “he deserves support, not scorn, from the Legislature.”

Our view: Baker right to rein in state borrowing
GLOUCESTER TIMES

By The Editorial Board
7/14/15
http://www.gloucestertimes.com/opinion/our-view-baker-right-to-rein-in-state-borrowing/article_5708afe9-2fdb-507c-b18a-6f80e56e2992.htmlAfter several rounds of spending cuts and other austerity measures to counteract a $768 million budget deficit brought about by the profligate spending of the Deval Patrick era, one would think Massachusetts lawmakers would commit themselves to being better stewards of the people’s money.

One would be wrong.

Democratic legislators are already complaining that Gov. Charlie Baker isn’t borrowing enough money to spend on pet projects in their home districts. They say they are offended and confused by the administration’s approach to money management.

The disagreement stems from the Baker administration’s conservative approach to borrowing, one that doesn’t increase the state’s debt cap. It’s an approach we feel is best for Massachusetts and its taxpayers.

Baker’s $4.1 billion capital spending plan for fiscal year 2016 would help pay for improvements to state highways, building maintenance projects and renewed economic development. The plan calls for $2.125 billion in general obligation funds, according to the State House News Service. That’s the same as fiscal year 2015 and the first time in six years the executive branch hasn’t increased borrowing by $125 million.

“The more money we borrow now, the less we have available in the operating budget to spend on discretionary spending and the capital program, as you know, has grown significantly in the last few years,” Kristen Lepore, Baker’s administration and finance secretary, told lawmakers at a hearing earlier this month.

Lepore said the administration’s spending plan was “responsible,” especially in light of the fact that borrowing has increased by 64 percent over the past decade.

It’s a sensible approach, a point that was lost on lawmakers.

State Rep. Antonio Cabral, a New Bedford Democrat, said state revenues are growing.

We say Baker is keeping a campaign promise to spend the taxpayers’ money like a responsible adult.

Baker’s sober approach comes as a new study ranks Massachusetts 48th out of the 50 states in financial health, as determined by short- and long-term debt and other obligations, including unfunded pension and retiree healthcare liabilities.

On a long-run basis, Massachusetts’ liabilities exceeded total assets by 47 percent. The state also carried a higher level of bonded debt than the national average. Unfunded pension liabilities were significant at more than $89 billion, close to three times the state’s estimates.”

Yes, the economy seems to be on the rebound. But Norcross says that’s no reason to abandon prudent borrowing and spending policies:

“Even states that appear to be fiscally robust — perhaps owing to large amounts of cash on hand or revenue streams from natural resources — must take stock of their long-term fiscal health before making future public policy decisions.”

That’s exactly what the Baker administration is doing, and he deserves support, not scorn, from the Legislature.

Click here for the full article

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Film Tax Credit on the chopping block

Gloucester Times
Posted: Wednesday, March 4, 2015 12:00 am

BOSTON — State House leaders Tuesday rose to the defense of a sometimes controversial tax break for the film industry after Gov. Charlie Baker put the program on the chopping block to help pay for the expansion of a different tax benefit for low-income families.

While top House Democrats described the earned income tax credit (EITC) as one that enjoys broad support among lawmakers, Baker’s proposals to double the EITC and eliminate the film tax credit could meet resistance from lawmakers who say they’ve seen the benefits of the film industry in their communities.

“I have been a big supporter of the film tax credit over the years. I’ve seen first-hand what it has meant in terms of the local economy, things I don’t even think are looked upon when you consider the film tax credit,” House Speaker Robert DeLeo said.

DeLeo described a visit to the Chelsea Chamber of Commerce where he heard from small business owners, including a florist, a delicatessen owner and someone who rents furniture, of the positive impact on commerce.

Cape Ann boosts

The film tax credit has also drawn wide support on Cape Ann, where Gloucester and its surrounding communities have benefitted from film companies and crews who have used the tax credit to produce a number of films locally.

“The Proposal,” filmed in 2008 in Rockport, Manchester and Gloucester, Adam Sandler’s “Grown ups,” filmed largely at Centennial Grove in Essex, and the HBO series “Olive Kitteridge” have been among the high-profile works filmed on Cape Ann, providing boosts for the region’s creative economy. “Grown Ups” was cited as pumping more than a $1 million into Essex’s economy when its actors and crew settled into working at Centennial Grove for more than three months in 2009.

Baker’s budget, due to be filed today, will propose doubling the state’s EITC to 30 percent of the federal credit, returning an additional $936 in tax returns to qualifying families with three or more children by the time it’s fully phased in by January 2018.

To offset the $145 million cost of the tax break for families, Baker has proposed to simultaneously phase out the film industry tax credit created to help lure big-budget movie productions to Massachusetts. The $80 million film tax credit would be eliminated from the budget by June 30, 2017

Advisory panel created to get MBTA back on track

BOSTON —Gov. Charlie Baker announced the creation of an advisory council to help diagnose and fix the problems that have plagued the MBTA.

The group will work with MBTA General Manager Beverly Scott to get an “on the ground” look at the issues, Baker said.

“Providing reliable public transportation now will require careful review, adequate resources and a serious discussion of re-structuring. It’s clear that following past procedures will only yield the same unacceptable results,” Baker said.

He expects the panel to report back to the state by the end of March, adding that his administration will continue to work with the MBTA on its recovery plan to get full service restored.

“Let me make this clear, we cannot continue to do the same thing and expect a different result,” Baker said. “It is my hope that this panel can help us to get the T back on solid ground.”

The experts include Jane Garvey, a national leader in transportation policy and top pick for Secretary of Transportation in the Obama administration, Jose A. Gomez-Ibanez , the Derek C. Bok Professor of Urban Planning and Public Policy at Harvard University, and Katie Lapp, former Executive Director and CEO for the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority, North American’s largest transportation network. Paul Barrett will serve as chair, Baker said.

Overnight, crews worked to clear the E Branch of the Green Line to get it up and running again Friday morning. Red Line train service from Alewife to North Quincy Station resumed Friday for the first time since last weekend.

WCVB5  February 20, 2015

From the Office of the Governor

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February 9, 2015 Dear Municipal Leaders,

As the Baker-Polito Administration’s liaison to local officials, I am excited to write to you about some early actions our Administration has taken to support municipalities and local officials.

On our first day in office, we released $100 million in Chapter 90 funds, for a total $300 million annual commitment to local roads and bridges. Second, Governor Baker signed his first Executive Order creating a Community Compact Cabinet (Cabinet) during the Massachusetts Municipal Association’s Annual Meeting. Third, the Baker-Polito Administration elevated the Division of Local Services within the Department of Revenue, and we’re thrilled that your colleague, Brookline Deputy Town Administrator Sean Cronin, has agreed to become Senior Deputy Commissioner for the Division of Local Services.

As chair of the Cabinet, I will champion local government issues throughout the Administration and will work with you to create a true partnership between the state and cities and towns. Together, we will work to identify best practices and innovations that provide better, more effective government both at the local and state level.

The Baker-Polito Administration will use the Cabinet to bring together the relevant high-level state officials to develop and execute our commitments to municipalities. One task I will highlight is that we are working to identify unfunded mandates, onerous regulations, and bottlenecks in state government that inhibit the success of your cities and towns. In March, the Division of Local Services will circulate a survey to seek your input.

To hear directly from local leaders, I’ve already started a statewide tour to meet with municipal officials and I hope to be able to connect with you soon. I am eager to hear your ideas about how we can help you grow the economy, provide a quality education for every child, and responsibly manage your community’s budget.

I have attached a summary of the Executive Order, and I look forward to working with you to create a great Massachusetts.

Sincerely,

Karyn E. Polito Lieutenant Governor

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