The Boston Globe
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Hearing message from voters,
lawmakers spurn talk of a tax hike
By Eric Moskowitz
Beacon Hill leaders
breathed a collective sigh of relief when voters rejected a ballot
question Tuesday to abolish the state income tax, but that doesn't mean
they went to work yesterday promoting plans to raise taxes.
The governor and several
top lawmakers said the overwhelming defeat of the proposed tax repeal -
70 percent to 30 percent - signaled to them that state residents don't
want total tax elimination. But they said they also recognize, from
comments during debate over the measure, that the public expects
government to operate more efficiently and not impose higher taxes.
"I am more than relieved. I
appreciate the thoughtfulness of voters," Governor Deval Patrick said at
a news conference yesterday, thanking the state's residents for agreeing
that "it was unwise to drive state government off a cliff."
In recent months, Question
1 was an elephant in the room at the State House, discouraging talk of
increasing taxes or fees for fear of fueling antitax sentiment,
political observers said. Meanwhile, Patrick and lawmakers have spent
the last few weeks trying to close an estimated $1.4 billion deficit in
the current fiscal year - through a mix of cuts, financial transfers,
and other measures - and will soon dig into the fiscal 2010 budget as
Several said they heard
repeatedly on the campaign trail from voters who were frustrated but
nonetheless could not bring themselves to abolish the income tax, which
generates about $12.5 billion a year and funds roughly 40 percent of the
"The results of Question 1
sent a loud and clear message to us that, number one, there is economic
anxiety and frustration out there," said Senator Steven C. Panagiotakos,
chairman of the Senate's Ways and Means Committee. "I see it as a
mandate to live within our means."
Barbara Anderson, a
veteran antitax advocate, scoffed at the notion that lawmakers would
refrain from raising taxes or read a message of thrift from the results.
"The only message is that
we, the voters, will put up with anything," said Anderson, executive
director of Citizens for Limited Taxation, which led the movement to
pass Proposition 2˝ in 1980, to limit property taxes.
Anderson's group supported
Question 1 this year but did not lead the movement, which was
spearheaded by Carla Howell, a former Libertarian gubernatorial
candidate. Citizens for Limited Taxation pushed successfully for
a 2000 ballot question to gradually reduce the income tax from 5.85
percent to 5 percent, but legislators in 2002 halted that rollback at
its current 5.3 percent, in the midst of a fiscal crisis.
"If they're telling anybody
they learned some kind of lessons from a 70-30 vote, they're lying,"
Anderson said, pointing out that there were few challengers and no
losses by legislative incumbents Tuesday.
The House speaker and
Senate president were unavailable for interviews about Question 1 and
"Raising taxes or fees
would be a last resort and not something the Senate president is in
favor of doing, especially in this economy," said David Falcone,
spokesman for Senate President Therese Murray.
David Guarino, spokesman
for Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi, said in a statement: "Nothing has
changed - there is no appetite for tax increases, period. Taxpayers are
strained enough in these trying times. The speaker does not have any
interest in adding to their burden."
Republicans were skeptical
of such statements. Senator Richard R. Tisei, the minority leader, said
Question 1 did stifle talk of new taxes.
"But I'm sure now that the
question failed people will reexamine" a tax increase, Tisei said. He
thinks lawmakers need to rein in spending and provide property tax
relief, not find new ways to tax the public.
The question's failure had
some immediate effects yesterday. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation
Authority had delayed the sale of bonds last month to pay for structural
improvements, after financial advisers cautioned that uncertainty about
the ballot question could cause the agency to find itself paying higher
interest rates to attract investors.
Yesterday, the bond sale
went forward. "We're selling them as we speak," said Jonathan Davis,
deputy general manager and chief financial officer of the MBTA.
When Bernard Cohen, the
state secretary of transportation, postponed a Turnpike Authority board
meeting scheduled for last week, some speculated it was to delay talk of
a toll increase until after the election. Cohen, who chairs the board,
was unavailable yesterday; his spokesman said the postponement was
unrelated to the income tax issue and the meeting's agenda has not yet
Lawmakers from Boston's
western suburbs have resisted a turnpike toll increase and instead
called for tolls to be imposed on the Central Artery to stabilize state
transportation budgets and pay off the Big Dig. Some are pushing for an
increase in the state's gas tax - unchanged since 1990 at 23.5 cents per
Representative David Linsky,
a Natick Democrat, supports a gas-tax increase of a few cents a gallon,
along with cost-saving moves, such as more automated toll collection.
"I have great faith in
Massachusetts voters that they would accept that," he said, citing
But state officials
yesterday talked mostly about having survived a scare.
Noah Bierman and Matt
Viser of the Globe staff contributed to this report.
The Boston Herald
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Corrupt, inept Mass. never ready for change
By Michael Graham
If House Speaker Sal DiMasi
treated a greyhound the way he treats the taxpayers, he’d be arrested by
the Massachusetts SPCA.
If you had a doctor or
lawyer who cost as much and did as little as state government, and you
offered to pay him more money - he’d think you must be stoned.
And if the voters of any
normal state spent the past six months watching the cavalcade of
government corruption we’ve seen, they wouldn’t need a ballot question
to take their tax money back. They’d leave the battered remains of
fallen incumbents scattered across the State House grounds.
Welcome to Massachusetts,
where we treat dogs and dopers better than we treat ourselves.
We, the people, did
everything but tape a “Kick Me” sign to our backsides on Tuesday. By
voting 70 percent against taking our income tax dollars back from Beacon
Hill, we all but begged them to stick it to us, right in the wallet. By
giving the arrogant, unresponsive Democratic super majority three more
House seats, we told Sal DiMoney to keep Beacon Hill open for
The lead up to Tuesday’s
election featured a veritable parade of poster children for Question 1:
Disabled firefighters who are also competitive bodybuilders; legislators
using campaign funds for Cape Cod vacation homes; police unions
threatening innocent flagmen; illegal immigrants with government jobs or
public housing. It’s been one long edition of “Your Tax Dollars in
Jeopardy”: “I’ll take crumbling state roadways for $880,000 per mile,
And how do Bay Staters
respond? By electing more Democrats to waste still more of
There was a time when, in
the face of political tyranny, Bostonians grabbed their muskets. Today
we simply whimper.
With only a handful of
contested elections and DiMasi announcing in advance that the
Legislature would ignore Question 1 if it did pass, this election was
never going to change anything. But it could have sent a message to
Beacon Hill that voters were at least a little grumpy about the
shamelessness of the current waste and corruption.
Now Gov. Deval Patrick and
the Democrats know that you’re happy just the way things are. Which
means you should expect more of the same.
After seeing overtaxed
voters roll over like a puppy, why should any Massachusetts Democrat
ever use the word “reform” in public?
“You want change? Go dig in
your sofa,” will be the reaction. And why not?
The question that lurks at
the edge of every hack’s mind is “What happens if I get caught?” Well,
Massachusetts Democrats have been caught with their hands in the
cookie jar, campaign coffers and various state senatorial undergarments.
And how did we voters
react? By giving them a bigger allowance and a pat on the head.
There’s something almost
pathetic about watching the masochistic masses of Massachusetts take
this beating from their so-called public servants. One longs for some
political version of the Guardian Angels to stop the massacre.
Because we clearly won’t.
Massachusetts voters are so blindly partisan that nothing else matters.
Break your promise of property tax relief, give millions in goodies to
your corporate pals, drive up our tolls, raise our taxes - whatever you
want. The only promise local pols must keep is to stay Democrats.
That’s the one promise our
herd of hacks will be happy to keep.
The Boston Herald
Thursday, November 6, 2008
No one here but us moonbats
By Howie Carr
They may not be registered
as Republicans anymore, but more than a third of the state electorate
still reliably votes for GOP candidates every two years.
So how come the Republicans
can’t elect anybody anymore?
I have no idea what it was
like to be a Federalist in 1814, or a Whig in 1856, but it had to be a
lot like being a Republican in Massachusetts in 2008. Any day now
they’re going to have a going-out-of-business sale. It will start right
after the remaining Republicans in the state Senate, all five of them,
finish their caucus - in a phone booth.
Before we get to a list of
Tuesday’s disasters, let’s mention the party’s one minuscule bright
spot. The GOP retained the office of Barnstable County Register of
Probate. The retiring, 30-plus-year GOP register was succeeded by his
assistant, Anastasia Welsh Perrino.
Welsh Perrino’s brother is
a judge, and her father . . . well, you get the picture. But she may
very well be the first Massachusetts politician to win an office
(admittedly a very obscure one) running against her opponent’s pension.
Her Democrat foe was Rep.
Eric Turkington of Falmouth, age 61, with 20 years in, looking to up his
state salary from $58,000 or so to $110,000. Six years down the road, it
would have meant an extra 40 large in his annual pension. Plus,
Turkington had another reason for running, as he said in an interview.
He wanted to shorten his commute. Damn, that trip to Boston every day
was putting a lot of miles on his car.
“He’s in his 60s,” Perrino
said on my show this week. “I’m only in my 40s. I’m not planning on
collecting for a long time.”
There you have it - a
winning issue for Massachusetts Republicans. Maybe their only one left.
Otherwise Tuesday was
another complete disaster for the Mass. GOP - they lost three more seats
being vacated by Republicans in the House. They’re down to 16 - 10
percent of the 160 seats.
In the Holliston-Hopkinton
House district - a Turnpike area - Muffy Healey’s ex-chief of staff lost
to a moonbat who said high tolls are good public policy. She repeatedly
came out in favor of tolling her own would-be constituents, and they’re
so dense they elect her.
Unbelievable. But consider
the Acton-Boxboro-Shirley-Lunenburg district. They elected a Democratic
woman who said in a debate that the Supreme Court passed the amendment
giving women the right to vote. She said it twice. She got 56 percent of
the vote in a district that was reliably Republican just 20 years ago.
What a fiasco. If I were a
Republican instead of unenrolled, here are the only two words I would
say to Peter Torkildsen.