Friday, July 25, 2008

Letter In Salem News On Sales Tax Holiday

Letter: Grant would sacrifice taxpayers to prop up state budget

To the editor:

Earlier this week Rep. Mary Grant, D-Beverly, told The Salem News she was against the sales tax holiday because "we need to think about stabilizing our state budget." While that's a nice sentiment, it's hard to take it seriously.

It's hard to take seriously because of her vote to approve a state budget for FY 2009 that the nonpartisan Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation estimates is at least $1 billion out of balance. This final budget ended up being larger than the versions proposed by the governor, Senate AND House of Representatives in an astounding case of 1 plus 1 plus 1 equaling a 5.3 percent increase in spending for the state.

Three weeks ago, Rep. Grant voted for a budget that could conceivably end up much further out of balance due to questions over federal health-care money and capital gains revenues. These questions are already driving speculation of a "fiscal meltdown" for the state, with the governor asking for unilateral authority to cut spending later this year, including local aid money for cities like Beverly.

This week Rep. Grant was one of just 15 representatives to vote no on the sales tax holiday because it will cost the state approximately $15 million in lost tax revenue. Her opposition would deny families already stretched to the limit by rising costs of living some much-appreciated relief during back-to-school time in order to pay for the bloated budget she voted to approve.

An approach more consistent with her concerns over the budget might have been for Rep. Grant to find $15 million in wasteful spending in the budget and eliminate it to offset the tax holiday.

Just last month the voters of Beverly made it clear by a 2-to-1 margin that they would not support a city budget that was out of balance. You can imagine that if they were the ones casting the vote on this state budget, it is not something they would have supported. As Beverly's voice on Beacon Hill, why would Rep. Grant give it her support?

As a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Grant has a real opportunity to actually make a difference in her stated desire to stabilize the state budget by working to get the state's unsustainable spending under control. Actions really do speak louder than words.