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Present calm on Massachusetts budget front may be short lived

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Dec 18 2017

By Michael Norton, State House News Service / The Worcester Telegram

The business-backed MTF, over the years, has become known for its sobering assessments of budget conditions that elected officials often portray in mostly positive terms. Its assessment of the $39.4 billion fiscal 2018 budget sticks to that theme, outlining issues to watch for in the coming months.
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Gloomy outlook for state finances

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Dec 14 2017

By Jon Chesto, The Boston Globe

You can’t blame Eileen McAnneny, MTF’s president, for being a spoilsport. The GOP tax cuts could total $1.5 trillion over 10 years. It’s a no-brainer, McAnneny says, that Massachusetts will receive less from D.C. going forward as a result. (Federal funds support more than a quarter of the state’s budget.) The fact we have an all-Democratic delegation doesn’t help. MTF’s bottom line: Lawmakers should hope for the best and prepare for the worst, by setting aside $500 million in the state’s rainy day fund. Tax cuts could be good for business. But they don’t come cheap.
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Officials say state revenues improving

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Dec 6 2017

By Bob Salsberg, AP / The Daily Hampshire Gazette

“Forecasting state tax revenues 18 months into the future is always risky as unforeseen events often undermine predictions as the past three years have shown,” the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation said in a statement. The nonpartisan fiscal research group offered a more conservative estimate of 2.8 percent growth in state tax collections next year.
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Mass. lawmakers again try to gauge revenues

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Dec 6 2017

By Colin Young, State House News Service / The Berkshire Eagle

"Predicting revenues in FY 2019 is more daunting than usual because there are several upcoming events over the next 12 months, any one of which will have major impacts on state tax revenues, but those impacts are unknowable right now," MTF wrote in its forecast. "Taken together, these events could dramatically alter the state's fiscal health." MTF said federal tax legislation could have "a major impact" on the state's finances, but said that three possible 2018 ballot questions — imposing a 4 percent surtax on income greater than $1 million, reducing the sales tax rate from 6.25 percent to 5 percent, and a paid family and medical leave initiative -- "could make irrelevant the forecasts presented at today's hearing."

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Potential tax law changes muddy budget picture

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Dec 6 2017

By Katie Lannan, State House News Service / WCVB

"But whenever it comes in, it is one-time revenue, and we're suggesting that that money go into the stabilization fund," McAnneny told the committees. "We think this is really important for two reasons. One, there is a statutory requirement that excess capital gains be deposited into the stabilization fund, but also I think because there is a very atypical and perhaps unprecedented amount of uncertainty regarding other tax revenues." With the pending federal tax legislation and a trio of potential ballot questions that could shake up the state's finances -- a sales tax reduction, a surtax on incomes over $1 million, and a paid family and medical leave program -- MTF recommended that the state deposit at least $500 million from this year's and next year's revenues into the rainy day fund.

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Uncertainty in Washington tax policy complicates Massachusetts budget writing

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Dec 6 2017

By Shira Schoenberg, MassLive

The business-backed Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation said any movement on tax reform could result in a one-time surge in capital gains tax revenues, as investors sell assets based on the anticipated shift in tax policy. But many of the proposals in the tax legislation "will likely have negative effects on state finances, health care coverage, higher education, transportation, research and state exports," according to the foundation's testimony. For example, the tax bill could hurt Massachusetts' many colleges and universities due to a tax on college endowments, the elimination of tax deductions for student loan interest and a change in the taxation of graduate student income.

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WBUR Poll: 3 State Ballot Initiatives Enjoy Overwhelming Support

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Nov 16 2017

WBUR

McAnneny also warns that some of the money from the millionaires’ tax might not materialize. “It’s likely to be less than [what the state estimates],” she said. “We’ve seen that in other states that have enacted similar policies, namely New Jersey and Connecticut. A lot of the money that will come in is based on volatile sources of income, so things like capital gains, and dividends, and interest, which is highly cyclical and where people have some control when they sell capital assets and so forth.”
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Income surtax scheduled for Feb. 5 hearing before SJC

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Nov 9 2017

By Andy Metzger, State House News Service / Dorchester Reporter

The plaintiffs run influential business-backed groups, including the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, the Massachusetts High Technology Council, and the National Federation of Independent Business’s Massachusetts arm.
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Viewpoint: Transportation costs still unknown, and that needs to change

Nov 9 2017

By Eileen McAnneny, BBJ

We do not know the all-in price to fix the state’s existing infrastructure or the additional costs of the many expansions being considered, but we should. We do not know what transportation revenues will be available over the next five years and beyond, so we must begin considering alternatives. That is why developing a comprehensive blueprint, that expressly and publicly prioritizes investments factoring in the dynamic impacts from climate change and technology along with a reliable and sustainable way to pay for these improvements is critical in this era of transition. Simply put, we must get smarter, faster. Our economy and quality of life depend upon it.
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MBTA spokeswoman: 'It's more than trust us'

Nov 7 2017

By Colin Young, State House News Service / The Daily Report

That announcement came after the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation released a report critical of the state for not having an updated blueprint of how it is going to address transportation infrastructure and financing needs in the next decade, saying such a blueprint is desperately needed given the advances in technology and climate change.
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