Budget Season Round 2: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

We’re kicking off round two with an issue that sparked our interest to launch last month’s Hardship Listening Tour, and that is the effort to increase the state’s gas tax. Beacon Hill has long been controlled by tax happy Democrats and here we are in the midst of a long and tough recession and they want to reach into your pocket once again.  And for what?  To continue pouring your hard earned money into a broken transportation system.  

There has been much talk up here at the State House about increasing the gas tax and the legislator who proposed the idea during this budget season is Representative Kay Khan.  The Newton Democrat wants to add a new outside section that requires the gasoline tax be no less than 29 cents more than the quarterly tax set for that date.  Read that again, and you will see it says no less, which means at least 29 cents!  So basically, this opens the door for an even higher gas tax.  Increasing any kind of tax in this current economy should not even be an option.  The House and Senate recently passed transportation reform bills.  Both are now in conference committee and the final version will likely contain many positive reforms, some of which our caucus proposed.  After a bill is signed into law, we should give those reforms an opportunity to succeed before telling the taxpayers we need more money.  There are provisions in both bills that will likely save the Commonwealth hundreds of millions of dollars.  Let’s see those reforms enacted first.

Evacuation Day and Bunker Hill Day are often on the receiving end of much criticism and ridicule, and rightfully so.  That is why our caucus is proposing doing away with the observation of these two “hack holidays.”  While we understand this is not necessarily a big money saver, it will certainly go a long way in restoring the public’s confidence in its elected officials.    Having Suffolk County offices open on these two days will provide greater efficiency and productivity as well.  There have been several negative instances that have broken the public’s trust.  Ethical improprieties, wasteful spending and continued occurrences of patronage have made it hard for Commonwealth citizens to believe their legislators are looking out for their best interests.  We believe eliminating these two holidays will be a positive step in the right direction and hope to continue making strides to regain the public’s confidence.

Tomorrow on www.thecapitolviewlive.com, a sales tax hike vs. an amendment to eliminate prescription drug waste.

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Budget Season: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Latest post from www.thecapitolviewlive.com.  Now cross-posting on RMG…

As you know, budget season is upon us and as we dive into the process, we are very quickly finding amendments filled with pet projects, pork and outrageous tax increase proposals. Over the next week or so, we will be highlighting various amendments we disagree with and explain alternative options we have filed. In round one of “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly,” it is Income Tax Hike vs. Employee Furloughs.

The amendment to increase the state’s income tax was filed last week by Representative Matt Patrick. Patrick, a Falmouth Democrat is proposing raising the state’s income tax by 1% which would bring the tax to 6.3%. This is wrong on so many levels. First of all, back in 2000 Massachusetts residents went to the polls and overwhelmingly voted to roll back the income tax to 5%. The will of the voters was ignored then and is clearly being overlooked now with the filing of this amendment. Additionally, we are facing extremely difficult financial times, and taxpayers can truly not afford to pay any more taxes. It is incredibly audacious of supporters of this amendment to think that Bay State residents should continue to foot the bill for mismanaged programs and agencies. Leave the income tax rate where it is and cut the waste instead. Remember, this is just round one of revealing the tax happy ways of Beacon Hill Democrats. More tax increase proposals to come!

Now to the good! The Republican Leadership Office has filed an amendment that will save the Commonwealth millions of dollars. We are facing a fiscal emergency of a magnitude and scope not seen since the Great Depression. The declining economy, the current budget crisis requiring a reduction in funding to essential programs and services and the probability of future budget deficits are all contributing to this current situation. The amendment we filed requires furloughs of all state employees other than judges (who are encouraged to work 10 days without pay) and those subject to collective bargaining. The furloughs would be required as follows: for each employee whose annual compensation is less than $50,000, three days; for each employee whose annual compensation is $50,000 or greater but not more than $79,999, five days; for each employee whose annual compensation is $80,000 or greater but not more than $99,999, seven days; for each employee whose annual compensation is $100,000 or greater, nine days. Employees may choose to take unpaid days off, work and defer pay, or work and collect additional vacation days to be used no earlier than fiscal year 2011. The expression, “Do as I say, not as I do” is not going to cut it given the current state of our economy. It is imperative that the consequences of these financial conditions be mitigated as soon as possible through a shared burden and sacrifice.

Be sure to visit www.thecapitolviewlive.com tomorrow as a massive gas tax increase goes head to head with repealing some well known “hack” holidays.  

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