Members of the Massachusetts Senate
May 21, 2012
Re: Senate Budget: No new taxes, and, EBT
We are happy to learn that there are no new taxes in the
Senate Ways & Means Committee budget. As always, we want to see
the income tax rate restored to its traditional 5%, as we were
promised when the increased rate passed in 1989 “temporarily,”
and then as voters mandated in 2000; therefore we support
Senator Tarr’s Amendment #9. We also support Senator Tarr’s
Amendment #36, restoring the sales tax rate to 5 percent.
If we still can’t
get the income tax rate cut voters demanded, we would at least
appreciate being assured that our hard-earned money won’t be
used for EBT cards for welfare recipients to spend on “firearms,
cosmetics, jewelry, travel services, health clubs, tattoo
parlors and gambling…at liquor stores, casinos, strip clubs,
smoke shops, gun dealers, tattoo parlors, nail salons, health
spas, rent-a-centers, electronics & appliance stores, jewelry
shops, gyms, movie theaters, bail bonds and bars.” (State House
News Service). We support Senator Hedlund’s Amendment #405.
We appreciate that
the House budget seeks to prohibit some misuse of the cards. But
it seems obvious that as long as they can be used at ATM
machines for cash, taxpayer money will be spent on any of these
things at any of these places and more, including the already
prohibited alcohol, tobacco and lottery tickets.
With all the
negative commentary on this issue in the past month, we were
surprised that Senate Ways & Means has not dealt seriously with
The Senate "reform"
would spend an additional three-quarters of a million dollars to
chase down "anecdotal" EBT card criminals all over the state,
arrest and charge them, process them through the already
overcrowded court system at an additional expense to taxpayers
(including the cost of their taxpayer-funded 'public
defenders'), theoretically convict them, then potentially jail
them at yet more taxpayer expense. Even if the state obtains
convictions, how do deadbeats pay restitution or a fine? It
would be easier to not allow EBT cards to be used for cash, to
be spent on things many taxpayers cannot afford themselves.