Gov. Deval Patrick won’t commit to implementing a proposal to reduce the state’s sales tax from 6.25 percent to 3 percent even if voters approve it through a ballot question this fall.
The Democrat said Wednesday that making such a cut would have a “calamitous” effect on public services.
Reducing the tax would cost the state an estimated $2.4 billion in annual revenue beginning Jan. 1. All of the leading candidates for governor oppose the change.
Patrick said he would like lower taxes himself, but the public also wants the state and local services supported by the sales tax.
He repeatedly dodged a direct answer when asked if he would implement the change if it were passed.
“I think we work real hard to try to show them how calamitous a choice that would be,” he said twice.
Separately, Patrick tried to tamp down concerns about a report released Tuesday showing foreclosures had jumped almost 80 percent in July from a year ago, with more than 1,200 being filed in Massachusetts.
“A lot of homes in foreclosure does not necessarily mean people are losing their homes,” the governor said. “The filing of foreclosure does not mean eviction; it’s a process that the bank goes through to secure their rights.”
Patrick noted legislation he has filed to force banks to work out a settlement with a homeowner. He said that otherwise, the state has to pay the tab in the form of extra services or taxpayer assitance.