Wednesday, July 4, 2001
225th Independence Day
Gov. Swift violating her "No
New Taxes" pledge
Happy Independence Day, folks!
But before you start feeling too independent, there's some shocking news, reported today by the Boston
Herald: "Swift eyeing tax for family leave" [below].
First it was "tax relief for low-income families" who pay no income tax, out of the pockets of taxpayers
who do, depriving the latter of a legitimate return from the Tax Reduction Fund.
Now, Acting Governor Jane Swift is proposing a new payroll tax on everybody and calling it a "user fee."
Her re-election campaign is becoming mighty expensive.
Arguing that it won't violate Swift's "No New Taxes" pledge, an "administration source" said "It's different
because it doesn't go to the state." Now there's a difference without a distinction!
Governor Swift took the "No New Taxes" pledge. This proposal is a violation of
Governor Jane Swift is becoming downright Clintonesque.
Before you read this about face by the Swift administration, we've provided you with the state Supreme
Judicial Court's definition of a fee. You decide: is her proposal a fee, or is
it a tax in sheep's clothing?
Happy Independence Day indeed.
STATE SUPREME JUDICIAL COURT
CITY OF BOSTON et al.
March 14, 1984
Fees imposed by a governmental entity tend to fall into
one of two principal categories: user fees, based on the rights of the entity as proprietor of the
instrumentalities used, or regulatory fees (including licensing and inspection fees), founded on the police
power to regulate particular businesses or activities.
Such fees share common traits that distinguish them from taxes:
The Boston Herald
Wednesday, July 4, 2001
Swift eyeing tax for family leave
by Ellen J. Silberman and Joe Battenfeld
Acting Gov. Jane M. Swift is considering imposing a tax on
Bay State workers and businesses to create a paid family leave program, sources say.
Swift is seriously considering requiring all workers in
Massachusetts to buy temporary disability insurance to be used by new mothers as well as workers who become sick or injured,
administration sources said.
Administration officials are still trying to figure out how
to split the cost of the massive new insurance program between workers, businesses and the state.
But aides say the new program wouldn't violate Swift's "No
New Tax" pledge.
"It's different because it doesn't go to the state," said an
administration source, comparing the insurance payments to a "user fee."
Swift, who is currently on her own fully paid $2,500-a-week
"working maternity leave," has made creating a paid leave program for other mothers a top priority.
Yesterday she rejected House Speaker Thomas M. Finneran's
plan to give tax breaks to companies that offer family leave as ineffective.
"A tax credit doesn't guarantee that everybody will have
access to a program," said Swift, who gave birth to twin girls on May 15.
An administration source said Swift doesn't believe Finneran's plan to give 20 percent tax credits to
companies that pay new parents up to half their salaries for four to six
weeks would add significantly to the number of companies that already offer family leave benefits.
An aide to Senate President Thomas F. Birmingham echoed that
concern. "(Birmingham) has concerns about whether a 20 percent state contribution will change employer offered benefits or
simply subsidize those who already offer those benefits," said his spokesman Allison Franklin.
But since disability insurance would not cover adoptive
parents or new fathers, Swift is likely to turn to a tax break or similar incentive to encourage companies to offer paid leave
"Tax credits could be part of the proposal," Swift said
Swift said her aides were working to craft a leave plan that
would "provide (family) leave to those who currently don't haveaccess to it and who are of lesser economic means."
At the same time, said Swift, she doesn't want to burden
businesses because we "need to remain economically competitive so we don't eliminate the jobs that folks want to take a leave
Swift's program is expected to be modeled in part on Rhode
Island's temporary disability insurance program, which is funded entirely by mandatory employee contributions through a
But Swift said yesterday she planned to come up with a
"There's not one good model," she said. "We're trying to
cobble together a variety of different things that other states are doing."
Swift, who has been running the state by remote control
since she was hospitalized in early labor on May 8, spent several hours in Boston yesterday joining Mayor Thomas M.
Menino at a West Roxbury press conference and presiding over the weekly Governor's Council meeting.
She is spending this week with her extended family at a
vacation rental in North Falmouth.
"It's a nice time for my family to spend together particularly before I go back to work," said Swift, who
has been signing the paperwork necessary to keep the state running from her Williamstown farm.
Swift has repeatedly adjusted the length of her paid leave
-- an option not available to other working moms.
Last month she said she didn't expect to be back in the
State House full time until September. Yesterday she said she'd be "back on a full schedule ... by the first of August."
Sources say Swift wants to unveil her family leave proposal
soon after she returns to work.
As lieutenant governor, Swift pushed to expand paid family
leave for state workers, who get two weeks of paid leave for maternity, paternity and adoptions as well as up to a year of
"I don't think the state and the public sector should
dictate to the private sector until we've taken care of our own responsibilities for our own employees," she said yesterday.
Currently, companies are not required to provide any paid
maternity leave but under federal law must allow up to 12 weeks unpaid leave.
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