Do taxes pay for anything?

Earlier this week the Massachusetts legislature’s Water Infrastructure Finance Commission issued a series of recommendations “calling for at least $200 million a year in new revenues to be raised” to deal with the “water and waste-water crisis” created by years of “neglected infrastructure.”  Possible sources of this revenue “include an expanded bottle-redemption law, new fees on fertilizers and pesticides, assessments on building permits or port fees, and a statewide water surcharge.”

Just in case you’ve been under a rock for the past couple of years, “new revenues” is the universally preferred euphemism for tax increases and fee hikes. According to the Massachusetts Water Resources Advisory Board, that “statewide water surcharge” floated (heh) by our legislative watermeisters would increase consumer water rates by roughly ten percent.  And that’s on the low end.

Check out these figures, reported in the State House News

Jennifer Pederson, executive director of the Massachusetts Water Works Association, said water utilities are concerned about fairness, equity and bureaucratic issues that would result if a water surcharge were assessed locally and deposited into a state fund. The association, in a letter to the commission, wrote that a “millage surcharge” of one tenth of 1 cent per gallon would lead to rate hikes of 17.8 percent in Attleboro, 23 percent in Worcester, 25 percent in Leominster, and 20 percent in Concord.

We’ve been hearing a lot about “new revenues” lately.  Replace “water” with “transportation” in the commission’s argument for its “new revenues” and you pretty much have the Patrick/Murray Administration’s periodic argument for a gas tax hike.  Always it is about the “crisis” engendered by neglected infrastructure.  Always the proposal is for “new revenues” to be “dedicated” to that infrastructure, as if the promise that the additional dollars pulled from our wallets will be put in a different state government pocket ought to make any difference whatsoever to the taxpayer already struggling under the cumulative burden of the Commonwealth’s high cost of living.

Of course the notion of “dedicated revenues” is completely bogus.  Money is fungible.  Even if (against all precedent) “dedicated” funds are in fact used solely for their stated purpose… READ THE REST at CriticalMASS

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