Calling his spending plan an investment in people, Governor Michael S. Dukakis unveiled a record-high $12 billion budget proposal for the fiscal year 1989 at a news conference yesterday at the State House.
Dukakis' plan raises spending by $857 million, a 7.2 percent increase over fiscal year 1988. The governor, stressing the state's solid job growth and low unemployment rate, called for an expansion of state government spending without any new taxes.
Although the governor proposes to increase welfare spending by 5.5 percent, 10 members of the Coalition For Basic Human Needs, a group representing welfare recipients, protested the proposal at the press conference.
"A 5.5 percent increase is only about 30 cents per day per person," said Dottie Stevens, the group's president.
Carol Brill, a spokesman for the National Association of Social Workers, said that "welfare recipients are being asked to eat the scraps on the table of plenty in Massachusetts." Brill added that inflation and foodstamp reductions will negate any increase in welfare spending.
Dukakis' budget calls for increased spending in public education, health care, employment training and public housing. The governor said that revenues to support the increases in human services will come from an estimated 3.3 percent real economic growth and tougher enforcement of tax laws.
Echoing his plan to shrink the federal deficit through stricter enforcement of the tax code, the Democratic presidential candidate asked for an extra $22 million for the state Revenue Department, which he said would yield $190 million in extra taxes per year.
Dukakis said that strong enforcement and collection efforts would also work on the federal level to reduce the budget deficit--although the other Democratic candidates have discounted the idea. "I'm not quite sure I've convinced my colleagues in the debates yet," the governor said.
Dukakis stressed that his budget complies with the balanced budget provisions of Massachusetts law. "We're not going to spend what we don't have," he said.
"Any budget is a plan that has to make assumptions about revenues, about the economic future and about appropriations," said Dukakis, who asked voters to judge him by his economic record of 10 years.
The Dukakis budget recommends that the Commonwealth conform to the Federal Tax Reform Act of 1986, which eliminated many tax loopholes. "Forty-two of 44 states with a state income tax have plugged the loopholes for the wealthy. I would hate to be the one state that hasn't, "he said.
After assessing his state budget, Dukakis responded to the question of whether presidential candidates should submit federal budget proposals during the campaign. Gary Hart confronted Dukakis at Monday night's Faneuil Hall debate, saying that any candidate unable to put together a budget proposal now did not deserve to be president.
Yesterday, Dukakis again called Hart's statement "absolutely ridiculous," and said, "Anyone who thinks you can prepare a budget one year in advance doesn't know how we do this. The notion that you can is absurd."