This morning I had the opportunity to serve as moderator at the Greater Lowell Chamber of Commerce Legislative Breakfast at Lenzi's in Dracut. The keynote speaker was Secretary for Administration and Finance Glen Shor who was appointed to that position just weeks ago. Prior to his appointment as Secretary, Shor served as Executive Director of the Massachusetts Health Insurance Connector Authority.
After reviewing the Commonwealth's fiscal affairs since the onset of the Great Recession, Secretary Shor then discussed Governor Patrick's recent proposal to increase funding for transportation and education and to pay for that increased funding with a package of tax increases and tax cuts. The Governor has proposed increasing the income tax rate from 5.25% to 6.25%, to double the personal exemption, to eliminate many deductions, and to decrease the sales tax to 4.5%. The purpose of these cuts is to pay for a variety of programs that the Governor believes are essential to the longterm financial stability of the Commonwealth and its citizens.
Secretary Shor repeatedly emphasized that this was not a dictate from the Governor, but the start of a conversation with the legislature and the public on how Massachusetts should look and operate in the future and about how that should be paid for. It didn't take long for that conversation to begin this morning since Secretary Shor was followed to the podium by State Senators Eileen Donoghue and Barry Finegold and State Representatives Kevin Murphy, Dave Nangle and Tom Golden (all of Lowell) and Marc Lombardo of Billerica. Their responses varied but no one heartily endorsed the existing proposal. It will be an interesting and extended conversation.
Finally, congratulations the the Greater Lowell Chamber of Commerce for a great event this morning that was well attended by the area business community.