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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Upping the ante

You can't say Deval Patrick isn't creative.

The Globe is reporting Patrick's casino gambling bill will include a special windfall for homeowners in communities where the property taxes equal 2 1/2 percent of their annual income.

That income tax break would come from cash available after putting in the infrastructure necessary to police casinos and the human problems they cause. The rest of an estimated $400 million in new annual revenues would go to road and bridge repair.

The concept met with a tepid response from the organization looking for all the cash to go back to cities and towns.

Geoffrey Beckwith - executive director of the Massachusetts Municipal Association, a group that represents the state's cities and towns - said the income tax credit does not address the revenue plight of cities and towns.

"This money is not local aid," he said. "We all know that property taxes are a major problem in Massachusetts. We believe the best way is to provide revenue sharing and local aid to cities and towns to reduce the reliance on the property tax."

It is a proposal that is also certain to challenge the rhetorical and logical resources of Citizens for Limited Taxation and its leader, Barbara Anderson, whose entire reason d'etre, allegedly, is to champion the cause of local property taxpayers.

The grassroots community that has backed Patrick but is at odds with him on gambling will also be torn by the notion that the proposal will fulfill a key element of his campaign promises to deal with high property taxes.

And most of all, it will serve as a distinct challenge to House Speaker Sal DiMasi, who has made strong suggestions that he wants the issue to go away -- even if that means sitting on it.

From a political standpoint, Patrick has rolled a seven. Now it will be up to the naysayers to offer alternatives to raise the cash Massachusetts needs to fix its infrastructure, help its residents and grow in the future.

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