The Massachusetts Transportation Finance Commission has recommended increasing the gasoline tax by 11.5 cents per gallon and imposing a fee of 5 cents per mile on the use of state roadways in order to cut the looming budget shortfall for maintenance of the next 20 years. It seems we have built a system that without huge tax increases and cost cuts will bring about a deficit of nearly 20 billion dollars. On a personal note: this policy change would cost me about $1,750 per year in increased car expenses. Ouch.
I think there is a truly larger question before us as residents of Massachusetts. The question is: What do we do once we have created a government so big and inefficient that we can no longer afford it? This is not some kind of loony conspiracy theory question. This is a real question and I think we are quickly approaching that point in Massachusetts. Massachusetts has to face the grim reality that serious changes need to be made in the way we govern ourselves. We can no longer make the case that government is there to serve us in every way possible – cradle to grave. We can not allow it to become the nanny state that liberals want it to be.
Look at the facts: Massachusetts is losing its people and its businesses. A sad reality is that people are increasingly realizing that moving out of state is a viable and economically positive option. Property taxes have doubled in the last five to seven years. Our roads and bridges have begun to crumble before our very eyes and the money dedicated to road repairs used irresponsibly to fund other projects. Some of our largest employers have decided to move due to the high cost of doing business in the Bay State. The state legislature had to override the voter’s demands to reduce the sales tax to 5 percent because it couldn’t accept the budget cuts. Since Governor Patrick has taken office several new tax ideas have been floated such as restaurant taxes, increased gas taxes, new tolls, income tax increases, etc. And now, the Governor is pushing to allow 3 casino establishments into Massachusetts to help cover costs. The reason we never had casinos before was because it is a morally questionable industry. It’s a bleak picture to say the least.
So what do we do? Do we allow ourselves to be taxed ever more in order to maintain the very bureaucracy that spent us into the problem in the first place? Will the legislature suddenly be more responsible with spending than it was in the past? Not likely. Will our politicians suddenly direct little or no money to pet projects and pork barrel programs aimed at keeping them in office? Not likely. Will the low productivity state employees suddenly stop asking for raises and generous comprehensive retirement benefits because of budget crunches? Not likely. Trust me folks, the system will continue to spend money as poorly and irresponsibly as it has in the past.
Maybe its time to sell the boat. My father used to say that “there are two truly glorious days in a boat lover’s life. The day he buys the boat, and the day he sells the boat”. He meant that it was wonderful to get the boat, all shiny and new with all its niceties, but after a while the maintenance, upkeep and expenses begin to overwhelm you until one day you can’t wait to get rid of it. I think we have reached that point with a lot of the state government in Massachusetts.
The answer that Democrats keep coming up with is to add more taxes. Deval Patrick will continue to issue bad economic outlooks until we give in to the duress of new taxes. He will continue to predict budget shortfalls and issue press releases suggesting that massive layoffs and restructuring are necessary unless new taxes are approved. He has been doing this since the very first week he took office.
We need our government leaders to step up and offer a sacrifice to the Gods of tax revenues – that’s us. We need heads to fall and it needs to be significant. If Deval Patrick wants to raise my taxes on gasoline and road use and every other which way then he needs to cut out the fat and start laying off people in state government. We have about 45,000 people employed by the state and unless he is willing to cut off about 5,000 of them we shouldn’t even consider new taxes. I would rather sell the boat – Captain and all.