In The News

Tax hikes, agency reform needed to save state transportation

Jan 13 2008

Tax hikes, agency reform needed to save state transportation

By John Hilliard, The Patriot Ledger

That figure doesn't include future improvements or the $15 billion cost of the Big Dig, said Michael Widmer, a member of the finance panel and president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation.

"We are in a particularly difficult position because we built a $15 billion project," he said, noting that about one-third of the state's federal highway aid helps pay off the Big Dig's debt.

He said virtually all the state's transportation agencies have structural deficits and employ "short-term quick fixes," but there is little money for road improvements without sacrificing the existing infrastructure.

 

Flood of red ink in budget forecast

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Nov 17 2007

By Reynold Joseph, WBZ Newsradio 1030

Michael Widmer, of the Mass Taxpayers Foundation, tells WBZ Newsradio1030 it looks like it'll be around a billion. Either way, it's bad news for cities and towns.

The potential amount of the deficit means Gov. Deval Patrick and lawmakers will have little room to fund new programs and will likely have to cut services to balance the budget. It also means cities and towns could face even sharp cuts in state assistance that are used to pay for local services.

Widmer says the problem is that the state is not adding enough jobs. Revenues are not increasing to keep pace with expenses, and when you spend more than you bring in, he says that's trouble.

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Toll Weary: With latest increase set for January, many question fairness of Pike users paying so much to support state roads

Oct 7 2007

By Ralph Ranalli, The Boston Globe

"'I think there is a wide recognition that something has to happen,' said Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation president Michael Widmer, who was a member of a state transportation funding panel that recently recommended an increase in the gas tax. 'We can't walk away from this any longer.'"
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Outrage, lack of fairness fuel debate over pension reform

Aug 3 2007

Outrage, lack of fairness fuel debate over pension reform

By Edward Mason and Stacie Galang, Daily News of Newburyport

Michael Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, former Dukakis administration official and longtime Beacon Hill observer, could not remember the last major pension overhaul.

"It is always difficult to make sweeping changes in the pension system," Widmer said. "When you talk about significant change in pensions, you're talking about state workers and the Legislature."

Lawmakers and state workers have proven to be obstacles to change, Widmer said. He noted the Romney administration was never able to get the Legislature to increase state workers' share of health insurance premiums.

"You see how hard it is to make minor changes in health care contributions," Widmer said. "To make more significant change in pensions is a high hill to climb."

 

Interview with Michael J. Widmer

Jul 1 2007

MASSPIRG

"Public transportation is a lifeline for the Massachusetts economy. That is why the Foundation, and I personally, have devoted so much attention to this issue over the past decade."
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Patrick, legislative leaders, agree to study corporate tax code

Apr 30 2007

By Steve LeBlanc, Associated Press

"The June 15 deadline is too soon, according to one member of panel, Michael Widmer, head of the business-backed Massachusetts Taxpayers Association, which opposes Patrick's loophole plan. Widmer was appointed by DiMasi.

"'You can't have a legitimate examination of corporate tax code in a month or two,' Widmer said.

"Widmer also questioned the value of the commission.

"'Of all the priorities that the state faces, I would not put this near the top,' he said. 'The impetus for the commission really is a response to the governor's proposal rather than a crying need in itself.'"

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Corporate tax hike proposal goes to task force: Patrick’s initiative has met with resistance from business sector

Apr 20 2007

By Tom Benner, The Patriot Ledger

"‘I'm open to a review of the corporate tax code, as long as it's a serious, in-depth review and not simply a smokescreen for implementing these so-called corporate loopholes,' said Michael Widmer, president of the business-backed Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation."
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Lawmaker: Pay for new commuter rail by charging car owners a "green" fee

Feb 22 2007

By Brian Boyd, SouthCoastToday.com

"Michael J. Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, said the original version's reliance on existing revenue was a shortcoming.

"While the foundation has not taken a position on the new proposal, Mr. Widmer said Rep. Cabral's idea deserves serious consideration.

"'Clearly, the state transit system needs new revenue, and Rep. Cabral's proposal is a constructive step in moving that discussion forward,' Mr. Widmer said."

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Mass. Turnpike tolls will not come down: 'A sad day for MetroWest'

Feb 7 2007

By Emelie Rutherford, Metrowest Daily News

"Commission member Michael Widmer called news of the death of the toll-removal plan 'positive.'

"'It was a foolhardy proposal from the outset because you're transferring the obligation to the taxpayer without any additional revenue,' said Widmer, also the president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation."

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Business and Labor Communities Determined to Move Ahead with Individual Tiering

Feb 1 2007

Business and Labor Communities Determined to Move Ahead with Individual Tiering

By Tom Walsh, Vital Signs

"This train is moving, and I agree we can't wait for the perfect set of data," added Michael J. Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation. At the same time, though, Widmer said doctors should not be unfairly hurt by the process. "I'm not comfortable with data that will unfairly tarnish anyone's reputation."
 
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