Taxachusetts redux

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May 11Gov. Deval Patrick has ushered in the return of Taxachusetts taxing and spending more than ever, new figures show.

The latest state numbers show Massachusetts has taken in a record $17.21 billion in income and sales taxes and other levies during the current fiscal year’s first 10 months.

That’s $91 million more than the previous record of $17.13 billion that the state netted during the same period of fiscal year 2008 before adjusting for inflation.

Other figures show Massachusetts will spend an all-time high of $30.6 billion in the 12 months ending June 30  up 14.1 percent in four years.

“I think taxpayers have every reason to demand a slowdown in the growth of spending,” David Tuerck, of Suffolk University’s Beacon Hill Institute, told the Herald.

State officials claim the recession left Massachusetts with a slew of budget woes, but Patrick and lawmakers did increase the sales-tax rate to 6.25 percent from 5 percent in 2009 to plug a huge budget gap.

That higher levy remains in place despite an improved economy.

While Patrick finance chief Jay Gonzalez admits tax receipts have returned to pre-recession levels, he counters that welfare, Medicaid and other social spending soared by $2.8 billion a year as people lost jobs and sought state help. But, according to state figures, the Bay State jobless rate has been going down for more than two years.

Total state spending has risen some 24 percent since Patrick took office, said Tuerck, who thinks Massachusetts could solve all of its budgetary problems by simply slowing spending increases.

Jim Stergios of the conservative Pioneer Institute think tank said the commonwealth has plenty of room to downsize its staff.

The Patrick administration admits the state workforce has expanded by 3,007 jobs since 2008 to hit 90,465 employees. That includes 4,039 Turnpike Authority and county sheriff workers previously accounted for separately  but excludes state “authorities” such as the MBTA.

Stergios believes few, if any, reductions have taken place when you count everything.

“The state (has) not cut back in the number of employees in any way that reflects the (economy’s) changes,” he said. “In fact, state-employee costs continue to increase every single year.”

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