and the
Citizens Economic Research Foundation

December 21, 2004

Where would we cut? Start right now!

Citizens for Limited Taxation has again filed a bill to "defrost" the Legislature’s "freeze" of the voters’ income tax rollback – 16 years after that promise that it’d be hiked only "temporarily" and four years after the voters’ rollback mandate. As always we will be asked, "where would you cut?" Here is the most recent of many items in our ongoing response.

We oppose the merger of UMass with the Southern New England School of Law, and as a first step support Board of Education Chairman Steve Tocco’s pledge to take a hard look at the numbers.

Though we are assured that the law school would itself pay its estimated $600,000 to acquire accreditation, we do not believe for a minute that it will cost only that amount, or that the taxpayers will not ultimately pay at least the difference, to start with. That’s how capital projects are launched in Massachusetts: estimate low, then charge the fait accompli to the taxpayers.

The most recent example of this modus operandi is reported in today’s Boston Globe, where we learned that the renovated Suffolk County Courthouse housing the SJC will cost at least $150 million, not the $40 million of its original estimate. The "Sun King Judicial Court" has apparently spared no expense in creating its Boston Château de Versailles as it celebrates its center-of-the-universe self-importance in the opening days of 21st Century Massachusetts. ("L'État, c'est moi!")

Supporters of this opulence claim to honor John Adams, who must be rolling over in his grave as Massachusetts emulates the ostentation of King Louis XIV of France.

"Where would you cut?"

As taxpayers are focused on the upcoming holidays, pork-barrel state spending slithers forward in the quiet shadows. From supplemental budgets that eat up the state surplus to the rush by UMass to buy a discredited law school which we taxpayers will ultimately need to bail-out, money is spent or committed before taxpayers and voters can claim it for their "frozen" rollback.

The Big Dig went from $2.6 to $15 billion and counting. Boston’s Versailles already more than tripled in cost. The State House renovation was more than "expected." The new prescription drug plan will cost more than "anticipated." The political game is always the same: get to the point of no return – dig the hole quickly – before "discovering" the true cost of any project.

CLT’s latest recommendation on "where to cut" is: don’t even get started on the UMass Law School boondoggle. We don’t need the school or more lawyers.

– 30 –

Return to CLT Updates page

Return to CLT home page