Friday, March 8, 2013

Governor Patrick's figures don't add up

Our governor is on a statewide campaign to drum up support for his investment (aka taxation) plan that will beef up our transportation infrastructure and education services. The goal? Raise an additional $1.9 billion a year with about half going to each of the above.

He’s pushing legislators to cozy up to his plan by sending us maps of our districts and how much of the $1.9 billion we’ll get each year. There’s no calculation of what it will cost, of course, but I put my pencil to paper and did some of my own calculating.

To arrive at a figure for my district’s cost of the proposed 19% income tax increase, I averaged 258 income tax returns I prepared for people who live in the 5th Barnstable District in 2011 and adjusted the number to coincide with average household income here. The result? Roughly $11 million in new income taxes. (Keep in mind that this is only personal income tax hikes; the governor's proposal also includes $230 million of corporate income tax increases statewide.)

Then I had to figure how much we’d save by having a 4.5% sales tax. This one’s tougher to calculate because a good chunk of that sales tax is paid by out-of-district tourists and second homeowners. (Actually, this is a very strong reason not to reduce sales tax in favor of a higher income tax.) I came up with $4 million for my district.

Netting the two (and this ignores the governor’s plan to index the gas tax and other fees), you get a 5th Barnstable District cost of about $7 million.

And what do we get back for this $7 million annual investment? According to the governor’s charts, $7 million ($5.5 million in education spending and $1.5 million in transportation spending). Pretty even exchange, right? Not so fast.

It turns out that the governor includes all of the school aid increases for the four towns that I represent. Other than the six precincts in Sandwich, I only represent one of fifteen precincts in Plymouth, two of thirteen precincts in Barnstable, and three of seven precincts in Bourne.

Plymouth's increase is $3.2 million, for example. If you look at Rep. deMacedo's chart, it also shows $3.2 million for Plymouth. And if you pull up Rep. Calter's chart? Yep. Again, $3.2 million for Plymouth. I've heard of double-counting things in a budget, but triple-counting is really pushing it. The same thing happens in Barnstable for Rep. Mannal, Rep. Turner and me, as well as in Bourne for Rep. Vieira and me.

So what's the real increase in education funding promised by the governor to the 5th Barnstable District? Paring down the governor's numbers by allocating by number of precincts in each town, he is promising us $664,000. Not $5.5 million. That's a pretty big overstatement. For transportation funding, the governor's unadjusted number is $1.5 million, whereas the real number is $613,000.

Let me summarize the governor's plan. We send $7+ million more a year to Beacon Hill and we get back $1.3 million. I don’t know about you, but if someone came knocking on my door to sell this investment plan, I’d shut it.

(Click on the charts below for a larger image. See all the charts at


  1. They don't add up in my checkbook either. I am sad to see him out there drumming up support for this and knowing that the people in this state are just going to take it without a fight. Not only that, but I think he's got a lot of nerve looking for this money when so many are suffering from the soaring costs of gas and groceries. Now he wants more, why never less?

    1. Oh.. and as a P.S. Nice job working out those numbers! Wow, very impressive.

  2. This is outrageous, hopefully there is enough outcry to stop these tax increase. Why don't we start cutting some of the social programs and see how much revenue we save

  3. This is a very interesting calculation that you did, Randy. Meanwhile, I have been listening to ads over and over again for New York state - mind you, a state that abuts MA. According to the ads, I have the impression that New York has lowered just about every tax Patrick wants to raise here in Massachusetts. New York is especially targeting businesses, inviting them to come to a state with lower taxes. By lowering the taxes while bringing in more business, New York just might increase its overall tax take. Clever! Although I love New York, the land of my youth, Massachusetts has been my beloved home for over 50 years. I would like to see a more intelligent and sensible approach to taxes here. I want to see Massachusetts do at least as well as New York if not better! Sally

  4. What's all the bichin' here. Forget the State, someone else will deal with that. Living in Sandwich you have the ability and right to speak your mind. Go to Town Meeting and stop the outrageous attacks on our wallets.

  5. vote no on the public safety building. Let them go back to the drawing board and come up with a reasonable proposal. I am sure that would pass. Rather than going for the best of everything, the powers that be should have asked for what is necessary only. That is necessary for the safety of our first responders and also the citizens. We all respect the firefighters and police, but we do also respect our families and the need to house and feed them and that takes money.


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