To: Members of the Massachusetts House
April 24, 2003
Re: House Ways & Means Committee Budget
We are happy to hear that the majority of House
members is not planning to raise taxes this year. We take it as a
hopeful sign that the commonwealth may survive this latest fiscal
crisis without permanent damage to its economy.
The Mass. Teachers Association, the Mass. Municipal
Association, the Mass. Taxpayers Foundation, and others want you to
vote to raise our taxes, as they support pay raises for their members
(MTA), take credit for local spending projects (MMA), and try to avoid
taxes on the businesses that fund them (MTF) while promoting deficit
borrowing that may profit its members.
MTA and MMA are spending a lot of money on radio
and TV ads to push you into raising taxes. MTA refers to "the
Armageddon budget" as if it somehow equates with the end of the
world. We think this absurdity, and the annual whining from these
organizations, turn the public off, and we can think of better places
to invest the ad money. We notice that few taxpayers chose the higher
rate option on their state income tax forms, and that 45% favored
outright abolition of the state income tax last year.
But if you raise taxes again this year, instead of
downsizing, you will have to again raise taxes next year, and in
ensuing years. As with weight gain, there is no upper limit.
Eventually -- like it or not -- you must reform and restructure. It
won’t get any easier later, when the economy has been further
damaged by more taxes.
The Massachusetts tax burden, per capita, is 5th
highest in the nation. Spending per capita is 6th highest. Education
spending, per student, is 5th highest too.
Tax Freedom Day here is May 2nd, the second-latest
date of all the states. Massachusetts citizens pay 33.6% of their
personal income in total federal, state and local taxes, more if one
counts indirect taxes and fees. They pay more than most Americans for
housing costs. Their property taxes, water and sewer bills, utilities
and automobile expenses are rising. And many of them are leaving for
other states, which also spent too much during the ‘90s but do an
overall better job of controlling taxes than Massachusetts.
Health care costs are rising too; this situation
will not improve as the Boomers age.
Massachusetts can no longer afford "business
as usual." This fiscal crisis gives you the opportunity to fix
state government and make it work for people who really need it. We
wish you well during your budget debate.