Monday, November 03, 2008

Please vote "No" on Question 1

I want to take a moment to talk to readers who are registered voters in Massachusetts. I have a simple message: Please vote on November 4 and please enter a “No” vote on Question 1. This is a binding referendum question designed to eliminate the state’s income tax.

The income tax accounts for $12.6 billion, or about 40 percent, of the yearly state budget. Proponents of the question assert that there is sufficient waste in the state budget to offset these cuts. But this is simply not true. Let’s say, for instance, that all of the 68,000 state employees were fired, $5 billion would be saved.

What else is there? Medicaid? Medicaid already pays the lowest rates to hospitals and doctors, when compared to private insurers and Medicare.

Interest payments on state bonds? I haven’t met anyone who thinks that it would be wise to undermine the Commonwealth’s credit rating in this fashion.

Supplies and equipment for state prisons, state colleges, state parks? No one has presented evidence that these expenditures are out of line.

State aid to cities and towns for schools, fire protection, and police service? Please, those municipalities are already facing their own budget struggles.

And so on. It is very easy to assert that there is sufficient waste in the state government to absorb a 40% budget cut, but there is simply no support for this conclusion.

Of course, we could eliminate the income tax and replace the revenues with higher sales taxes or property taxes. But those revenue sources are more regressive than the income tax, putting disproportionate burdens on lower income families.

In summary, please vote “No” on Question 1 at the polls on November 4. Thank you.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Paul - Come on. Getting rid of the bloated state pension system alone could save billions of taxpayer dollars. Let state workers set up 401 K plans and contribute their own retirement money like everyone in the public sector and not retire at 45 years old with 80% of their salary. Even most hospitals have phased out costly pension programs and put in 401 K or 403 B plans. Shut the state lottery down and you would return billions to mostly poor state taxpayers who gamble it away and you also get rid of a huge beaurocracy at the same time. Have state workers pay the same amount for their helathcare as public sector workers do. Stop the hundreds of millions in double payments to BMC and Cambridge Health. Get rid of all the patronage, waste (Big Dig, Turnpike), fraud (Diane Wilkerson) and that is billions more. There is no way they will become more efficient in these tough times unless we send them a strong message and take the money away. I know I am proudly voting "YES!" on Question 1.

Anonymous said...

While I agree with the overall concept of voting "No" as it will ultimately hurt those less fortunate, we need to overhaul the system - and the way to begin doing that is to stop giving them our money. It's no different than the unions. They need to be held accountable. We have to manage our business, they should start having to manage thier's.

Anonymous said...

I hope most people view things differently than the two who submitted these comments. The first is full of inaccuracies. Both confuse holding government officials accountable with destroying worthy programs and hurting many people.

Don Martelli said...

While I would LOVE to have extra money in my pay check twice a month, I just don't see the validity of killing the state income tax and how that would help the Massachusetts economy. What will happen to the public school systems? What will happen to public service like fire and police? How about garbage pick-up? The problems the commenters above mention should and can be fixed without eliminated the income tax. Imagine if those issues were corrected AND we kept the state income tax. Wouldn't we be in a much, much better financial position as a state?

Anonymous said...

I am voting no on question 1 because I think it is a poorly-thought-through attempt at a "quick fix" that the governor THINKS will make him very popular or to make us more like New Hampshire. Let's see him cut out the waste FIRST then return any savings to the taxpayers. However, in the end, it is not as regressive as it seems because property taxes will inevitably go up (similar to New Hampshire) and the people who earn more money also own more property.

Tim F said...

The reality of the situation is thus:

* Voters must vote YES on question 1 to show our elected officials that we the voters are in charge; we have spent long enough beholden to the elite of Beacon Hill when it should be the other way around

* After the voters have demonstarted that they are in fact the ones in charge, we all know what will happen; the Governor, The Senate President, The Speaker of the House, etc will get together a bill to supercede the law that we the voters have just passed.

* Should this law be to exactly restore the 5.3% income tax, then it would be the people's duty in the next election to remove any incumbent who so shamelessly ignored the will of his/her subjects (errr... constituents)

* An override by the Legislature to a more reasonable level of taxation while maintaining core services, but cutting waste to the core MUST be the responsible compromise.

Anonymous said...

Pauk - If so many people think the State of Massachusetts is doing such a good job (as you imply), why do only a tiny handful of people elect to pay the higher Mass state income tax rate of 5.9% every year as is their option on the state tax return? If all of these people think state government is so important you would think millions of people would gladly elect to pay higher state taxes. The fact that this does NOT happen shows how people really feel about the chronic waste, abuse and fraud that we suffer year after year at the hands of our elected officials. They have already ignored the public's vote to reduce the state tax rate to 5% after the previous "temporary hike" which just goe to show their total disregard for the will of the people that is essntial in any true democracy.

Anonymous said...

I don't live in Mass. and my story does not concern state income tax, but a recent article in our local paper indicated that my east coast state's limits on the ability to raise property assessments has led to lower spending over the years by at least some of the state's county governments whose income, of course, primarily comes from property taxes. Thus my county is not being hurt as badly in this recession as some others. I do believe in principle that there should be some sort of predefined limit on government spending or else one winds up with the unenviable moniker of "Taxachusetts" - a state I am glad not to live in, I'm afraid.

nonlocal

Anonymous said...

An old nickname which fortunately is not accurate any more. In fact, MA ranks pretty much in the middle or lower middle of all states now.

YogiBear_ said...

From the MSN News

"Wednesday, November 05, 2008

What the world can expect from Obama?

Bangalore: With the United States having its first African-American President in Barack Obama and the Democrats all set to get full control the Senate and the Congress, here is what the world can look out to in terms of policy initiatives from the US Administration once Obama is inaugurated as President of the United States in less than two months…
-- A crucial election plan was to expand healthcare, efforts for which may start by bringing back a bill vetoed by President George Bush to enhance federal aid to child insurance.
-- The judiciary may see a wholesale change from the anti-abortion rights judges to those who are moderate and liberal in their views about such issues.
-- Obama may bring in law to make trade union activities more open by allowing workers to organize if a majority sign on a union card. This would mean stronger trade union action in American industry.

Source: Raj Narayan, India Syndicate