Thursday, June 25, 2009

In Case You Missed It!

Boston Herald Editorial: "Load Gets Heavier"
June 22, 2009

Union organizers issued an ugly warning to lawmakers last week: Vote for the transportation reform bill, and you will pay. It was, in Beacon Hill terms, a "labor vote."

Well, it seems beyond time for taxpayers to start using the same bare-knuckled approach.

"Vote for a state budget that raises taxes by $1 billion amid the worst economic crisis in decades and you will pay, big-time." It's a taxpayer vote.

It's true, the Legislature's budget-writers had a miserable task: To balance the state budget at a time when revenues have gone "poof!" And there are some concessions to sanity in the final budget approved Friday - no income tax hike, the eventual elimination of the bloated Quinn Bill, a requirement that state workers contribute more for their health insurance.

A related transportation reform bill (we're told) will deliver savings. Even with the new revenue, spending will be reduced and there will be layoffs, especially at the municipal level.

But when it comes to the revenue side of the ledger, well, lawmakers have opted to settle for the low-hanging fruit.

The sales tax (also applied to restaurant meals) will go up by 25 percent, to 6.25 percent. New Hampshire, here we come!

We will now pay a tax on the tax already applied to a six-pack or bottle of wine purchased at a package store.

Cities and towns will have the option of raising the local hotel tax up to 6 percent and the meals tax to as much as 7 percent. Gee, wonder if any of them will accept that offer?

And if you're a satellite TV subscriber you'll now be taxed to ensure "equity." Nantasket beach-goers will even pay $4 extra on parking fees to help Hull pay for public safety calls.

These are dark days. But revenues will rebound. Experience tells us, though, that these new taxes will be with us forever.

Finally it's worth noting that a Senate effort to make it easier to privatize state contracts - lifting the cap on an eligible project's value from $200,000 to $2 million - was reduced to $500,000. Serious about reform? It wouldn't seem so.

Yes, this was a taxpayer vote. And the taxpayers lost.