In The News: Transportation

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Editorial: Gov stamps his foot

Jun 28 2013

The Boston Herald

But it has become even more problematic because there is growing concern over its draftsmanship and how much would really be brought in by the tax. Lawmakers insist it will cost business about $161 million a year. That’s a far more serious issue than the governor’s little tiff over Turnpike tolls and one that should merit some language to limit that tax burden.
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Editorial:Transportation financing: Tech tax must go

Jun 28 2013

The Boston Globe

Currently sitting on Governor Patrick’s desk is a state transportation financing bill that raises an average of $600 million in revenue over the next five years. Some of the money would come from hiking the cigarette tax, changing some business tax rules, and adding 3 cents to the gas tax. Yet the bill also includes an ill-conceived new sales tax on computer systems design services. Patrick has said he will send the bill back to legislators with amendments. He should, and one of his changes should be to scrap the computer services tax.
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The tech-tax monster vs. Beacon Hill

Jun 28 2013

By Scot Lehigh, The Boston Globe

Michael Widmer, the usually mild-mannered president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, is as alarmed as I can ever remember him being. If it becomes law, he says, the transportation bill that the Legislature passed on Wednesday would require the Department of Revenue to tax a sweeping range of computer services that state firms purchase to stay competitive. Given the high-tech state of the Massachusetts economy, that big new tax would have large negative consequences. “It’s a tsunami,” he says. “Any company that invests in new technology to upgrade its system will be taxed.”
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Mass. gov. says transportation compromise lacking

Jun 26 2013

AP / The Tampa Tribune

The business-backed Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation issued a statement, saying the state would have the highest tax rate in the nation on software services if the new tax is imposed. "The tax takes clear aim at the state's innovation economy, which is the essence of the state's competitive edge and at the core of its economic future," the foundation said. The group estimated that the tax would cost businesses $500 million, well above the $160 million estimate of Democratic leaders.
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Patrick won't accept transportation funding plan as written by Legislative leaders

Jun 26 2013

By Matt Murphy and Michael Norton, State House News Service / The Herald News

Business groups like the Massachusetts High Technology Council and the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation have flagged serious concerns about the impact of an expansion of the state’s sales tax to cover computer and software design services, suggesting it will make Massachusetts less competitive and stifle the innovation economy.
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House and Senate strike transportation deal

Jun 25 2013

By Matt Murphy, State House News Service / Southcoast Today

Though the tax on software services was included in both the House and Senate bills and not subject to the most recent negotiations, Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation President Michael Widmer blasted its inclusion in the bill, suggesting lawmakers have failed to grasp it full impact. "State leaders could hardly have chosen a more perfect tax to undercut the future of the Massachusetts economy. This is the most sweeping computer and software services tax in the nation. It strikes at the heart of the state's innovation economy and will stifle job creation for years to come," Widmer told the News Service.

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Regional transit systems hope to gain from funding bill

Apr 22 2013

By Martine Powers, The Boston Globe

“I don’t know if that’s defensible, given the limited dollars,” Widmer said. “It clearly deserves additional funding . . . but the question is, how much?” Any increase in spending on the buses, Widmer argued, should be coupled with an increase in transparency and accountability for the regional transit authorities, which would help taxpayers ensure that the buses are as popular and as efficient as advocates suggest.
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University of Massachusetts and other education projects keeping heavy construction companies, workers busy

Apr 22 2013

By Jim Kinney, The Republican

In transportation, Gov. Deval L. Patrick’s ambitious transportation plans appear to have stalled in the state legislature, said Michael Widmer, president and CEO of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation. But he does expect a compromise now brewing in the statehouse to yield $700 million to $800 million in transportation funding a year once the plan ramps-up fully in 2018.
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Hopes rise for deal over Massachusetts transportation spending plans

Apr 12 2013

The Berkshire Eagle

According to an analysis by the independent Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, the additions to the Senate bill would bring the increase in annual transportation funding close to $800 million by fiscal year 2018.
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Could the Senate plan provide common ground?

Apr 11 2013

By Gabrielle Gurley, CommonWealth Magazine

The Senate plan moves the Legislature closer to an $800 million target proposed by the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation in March. The foundation had staked out a middle ground between state lawmakers and the governor that would allow transportation agencies to get a handle on the chronic underinvestment while offering some leeway for modest expansion projects. “On balance, I think this is a good bill,” Michael Widmer, the president of the taxpayers group, told CommonWealth.
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