This column was first published in the
Salem News last Wednesday,
but as news evolved quickly Barbara updated it for the
If you consider summer
to be the three months of June, July and August, we are smack in the
middle of it. Now, with Congress and the Legislature on vacation,
even political activists can relax and enjoy the season.
Wait! They haven’t
The fiscal year 2014
state budget, for the fiscal year that began on July 1, isn’t
The budget has been
late before, usually when there is a fiscal crisis; in the past,
late budgets have led to income tax hikes. And in fact, Gov.
Patrick, along with liberal activists, wants an income tax rate
increase, from the present 5.25 percent to 6.25 percent as well as
gas and cigarette tax hikes and a new tax on computer services.
The Legislature, while
passing the latter three, has fortunately made it clear that the
income tax hike is not on the table. So the governor wants an even
bigger gas tax increase; last Friday he vetoed $417 million in
transportation funding from the $34 billion budget because his
transportation bill doesn’t have enough new revenues to cover it.
I’ve never seen
anything like this year’s process. There are two bills pending: the
budget, and the transportation tax package that increases the gas
tax, but not enough, according to the governor, to fund all the
transportation spending in the budget. For some reason the
transportation bill increases cigarette taxes and creates the new
tax on computer services, neither of which has anything to do with
There was also a fiscal
year 2013 supplemental budget that passed earlier this month. As the
Electronic Benefits Transer (EBT) scandal unfolded, some House
members tried to put language in the FY 2014 budget to reform the
welfare system; instead there is language in the supplemental FY
2013 budget from the governor to study the issue. He has also stated
that he’ll be looking for money in a FY 2014 supplemental budget to
fund a photo ID requirement for welfare benefits. Remember that the
original FY 2014 budget still hadn’t passed when he said this.
Trying to follow our
state government’s timeline: For some reason the budget was sent to
the governor before the Legislature sent him the bill to fund some
of it. He vetoed the budget because it wasn’t balanced and also sent
back the funding bill because it wasn’t big enough. Somewhere in
there he cut some local aid, which is sacred to many legislators, to
pressure them to support more taxes.
The House then the
Senate took up this mess, voted against the higher gas tax, prepared
to override the governor’s veto. No one yet understands the impact
of the computer services tax on our small businesses.
Could we elect a
governor with management skill next time? But good news: After state
Rep. Shaunna O’Connell, R-Taunton, paid the Patrick administration
$800, it released information on how many EBT cards are carrying
surpluses (Nearly 1,800, with one account topping $12,000). Full
disclosure: I and the other two Citizens for Limited Taxation
staffers each sent her a personal check for $25 to help reimburse
her political fund. Taxpayers need to know how much their generosity
is being abused.
Rep. Brad Hill,
R-Ipswich, reports that legislation has passed requiring the
taxpayer-funded MBTA retirement payments be posted so we can better
understand why we need transportation revenue hikes. It’s not all
about keeping fares reasonable, folks.
Washington DC, our federal politicians are still arguing about
immigration reform. This past week, the Black America Leadership
Alliance led a rally Monday demanding that “our leaders reject
amnesty, enforce immigration laws as written, and support policies
that put black U.S. citizens back to work.” Speakers included
Senators Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and Elbert Guillory (R-LA), and former
Florida Congressman, Colonel Allen West.
I just mention this
since we’re told that those of us who oppose amnesty are racists.
Meanwhile, Obamacare is
falling apart, with the business community getting a delay in the
mandatory tax and unions finally noticing it’s costing them
full-time, middle-class jobs.
Another political “duh”
moment. Tell them there’ll be a new tax and lots of paperwork on
companies who have more than 50 employees and suddenly companies lay
off a few, don’t hire the 51st, divide themselves into two
companies, share part-time employees with other similar companies.
You could work at one fast-food restaurant in the morning, another
in the afternoon, no benefits.
So far this year the
number of part-time jobs in the country has climbed by 557,000. The
number of full-time U.S. workers fell by 240,000 in June.
“duh” moment. As the economy continues to drive in low gear, both
federal and state Democrat politicians want to increase the minimum
wage. Incredibly, according to the Washington Post, the City Council
of Washington, D.C., just passed a local law requiring Walmart to
pay $12.50 an hour; the company is threatening to pull out of three
planned sites for stores that would anchor malls serving the
low-income residents of that Democrat-run city.
politics, we must ask: where are the lazy, hazy days of summer we
used to sing about and enjoy?