By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) – Our political leaders on Beacon Hill mean well, they really do.

In pursuing major new tax hikes to help repair our crumbling transportation infrastructure, they are doing their best to fix a real problem that can’t go unaddressed any longer.

But the dysfunctional past of a state government that has stuck us with unsustainable labor deals and out-of-control spending has created a situation where efforts to do the right thing risk making a bad situation worse.

Listen to Jon’s commentary:

The legislature has sent on to the governor a plan to raise more than half a billion dollars in taxes to help cover transit needs. Mr. Patrick wanted more than double that.

But even the lower amount could be a problem.

Last week, the local economic analysis group MassBenchmarks issued a chilling warning about our economic situation.

Federal spending cuts have hurt us, they note. So have the economic problems of some of our major foreign trading partners, with Massachusetts exports down more than 11 percent over last year.

“Growth in state gross domestic product slowed to a one percent annualized rate of growth in April and May,” they note. “Employment growth in the state has virtually stalled.”

Into this situation, Beacon Hill is about to inject a gas tax hike that will raise business costs and an extension of the sales tax onto computer services and software that will make us “much more expensive and unattractive for all businesses seeking to compete,” according to the Mass. Taxpayers Foundation.

I hope the benefits of this move outweigh the harm.

If they don’t, we may recall this as a moment when well-meaning people drove our economy off a cliff.

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.


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