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Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Chip Faulkner's after-action report:
The Joint Committee on Revenue
"Summertime and legislators’ livin’ is easy"

I survived another Hell Week after Chip Faulkner delivered his dead laptop computer on me last Monday.  He'd crashed it again so I had to drop everything and rebuild it from scratch again for him.  It took my working literally around the clock night and day 65 hours of relentless personal "tech support" before I had it humming again on Friday, then could set it to backup while I collapsed in exhaustion.

Do me a favor when you see Chipster.  Remind him that he doesn't use the laptop's "On" button to shut it down; he uses the "Shut Down/Restart" function to power it down properly or it'll inevitably crash, again.  Sometimes knowing where the "On" button is just isn't enough!

As I try to catch up from a lost week, his belated after-action report on his testimony on the Sales Tax Rollback bill follows.

Chip Ford
Executive Director,
Director of Operations,
and CLT's IT department

Chip Faulkner's CLT Commentary

Summertime and legislators’ livin’ is easy.

It is beginning to become a habit. There I was again, testifying before the Joint Committee on Revenue on July 18th for the second time in seven days and the third time in 42 days. The same place and same room, B-2 in the State House, was once again the setting.

Another routine I observed was that very few of the 17 Revenue Committee members — 11 from the House and 6 from the Senate — have bothered to show up during my three appearances. This one, however, set a new low with just the Senate and House chairmen and one other state representative present to hear my testimony. The other 14 members must have been busy taking their vacations — spending that additional money they grabbed from us for the obscene pay hike they gave themselves in January. Those unappreciated public servants are so overworked and underpaid that they need to take the summer off.

I was there to testify in favor of H.1578 and S.1650, bills that would restore the state sales tax to 5%. The sales tax was passed in 2009 when the state budget was $27 billion. This was intended to generate some $700-$900 billion to cover a shortfall. The crisis was caused, of course, by countless spending sprees by the Legislature. The annual state budget now — in less than ten years since the sales tax was increased to 6.25% — has been increased by $13 billion to the $40 billion budget just passed!

In my testimony I pointed out:  With all this additional revenue that has poured into the state treasury in the last several years, it’s time to roll back the sales tax to 5%.  However as CLT lamented in our news release issued for this hearing:  “… taxpayers are still waiting for the ‘temporary’ income tax hike of 1989 to be fully rolled back to 5%, twenty-eight years after the Legislature made that false promise.”

The committee was also informed by me of the George Mason University’s Mercatus Center fourth annual study of overall fiscal conditions in the fifty states. It ranked Massachusetts third from the bottom, ahead of only Illinois and New Jersey in fiscal management.

I told the committee a personal story about the sales tax hike. Not long after Massachusetts passed the increase, I was giving a speech to a group of conservative activists in New Hampshire. In the middle of my address I complained about the sales tax hike. To my surprise (and chagrin) the crowd stood and applauded! As several told me after the talk, New Hampshire always welcomes the flood of Bay State spenders/shoppers after a new Massachusetts tax increase.

Two final notes:  During the time I spent at the hearing, I didn’t see or hear anyone testify in favor of the sales tax reduction bills except CLT.  I also didn’t receive any questions from the shell of a committee.  Why should they exert themselves — it wa, after all, mid-July!

Chip Faulkner
Communications Director

Citizens for Limited Taxation    PO Box 1147    Marblehead, MA 01945    508-915-3665