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Analysis: 2 Percent Sales Tax Increase Not Unlikely08:27
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Facing a state fiscal crisis and a historic budget gap, the Massachusetts House will begin budget debates on Monday. Deep cuts are expected as well as possible tax hikes. Among the options being considered is a sales tax increase of at least one percent, from five to six percent.

Michael Widmer is president of the Massachusetts Taxpayer Foundation. He says a tax increase won't solve the state's fiscal crisis, but it could ease the pain.

"There are going to be significant cuts in the 2010 budget in any case, the question is just how bad the cuts are going to be," says Widmer.

Public emotion is running high on both sides of the issue. Many mayors and advocates for the poor see a tax hike as a way to offset cuts to services. But those opposed — including many business owners and residents — say a tax hike will only add to the economic paid.

"People are feeling the economic pressures, they've seen their retirement savings disappear or at least lose a huge percent of their value. They may have lost their jobs," says Widmer. "This is a hugely difficult time for people."

To gauge the temperature on Beacon Hill ahead of Monday's debate, WBUR speaks with Craig Sandler, General Manager of the State House News Service.

This program aired on April 24, 2009.

Bob Oakes Twitter Host, Morning Edition
Bob Oakes has been WBUR's Morning Edition anchor since 1992.

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