In an election defined by a dour economy, Massachusetts voters face a stark choice in the race for governor, with the four candidates advocating widely divergent strategies for creating jobs, cutting runaway health care costs and changing the way state produces energy.
In recent interviews with the Globe, Republican Charles Baker and Democratic incumbent Deval Patrick challenged each other's positions on taxes, business regulations and the Cape Wind project; Independent Timothy Cahill proposed a plan to waive taxes on Massachusetts start-ups; And Green Rainbow candidate Jill Stein advocated a single-payer health care system and called for a loan fund to support green businesses.
Watch video at the right for extended responses from the candidates on how they would tackle the issue of taxes if they were elected governor, and read their abbreviated responses below.
We've cut the [corporate] tax rate as you know; it's going down to 8 percent over the next two years. It started down this year. In my experience in business, the point is not that there be no taxes; the point is that it be competitive. We are fifth in the nation on CNBC's poll as best places to do business. We've never been that high. And that's because of the whole picture, and that's the way businesses make their decisions -- it's a combination of factors where a judgment is made whether the environment makes sense. Reducing the amount of time it takes to get permits at the state level from an average of two years before I took office to an average of six months now, three months in the case of insurance products. Investing in education, which is enormously important for lots and lots of our businesses that depend on a well educated workforce and on workforce training, for example. These sorts of things contribute to why it is we have moved up, and I want to keep that going.
We should simplify our business tax and get it down to 5 percent. Currently, if you're organized as a C-Corp it's at 8.75 percent; If you're organized as an S-Corp., it's 5.3 percent, which is a real negative incentive for a lot of small businesses to grow and stay in Massachusetts. What I'd like to do is get the whole thing down to 5 percent. It's simple, it's easy, and it's in the middle of the pack in terms of tax rate, which is where I think we should be. I've also talked about trying to get the income tax down to 5 percent, and repealing the increase in the sales tax that brought us 6.25 percent.
Bring down the sales tax to 5 percent, not to 3 percent, but to 5 percent. Bring down the income tax to 5 percent, and I would focus on cutting capital gains before corporate taxes. Those are going to be challenging because we've go to show the Legislature where we're going to make up the revenue. But it's about job creation and about leveling the playing field, as opposed to picking and choosing who's going to get tax credits. Government seems to like that policy. I prefer a more predictable tax policy across the board. That's the only way we're going to get companies and businesses to grow, especially small businesses outside the 128 beltway, where unemployment is higher than the national average.
We have a very unfair tax structure right now. If you account for the various corporate and capital gains and sales and all that, middle income families and working families are getting hit at about twice the rate as the wealthiest few, including the major corporate players. So much wealth and power has been concentrated at the top, and we need a little bit of balance. There are many maneuvers we can do, whether increasing corporate income taxes or capital gains, or a progressive income tax; there are many ways to make taxes fair; That's what I think we need to do, and that's what I will do differently from the three business-as-usual candidates.