The Boston Herald
Friday, November 8, 2002
Tommy Taxes long overdue for big letdown
by Howie Carr
What is wrong with this picture?
Mitt Romney, who was elected governor with 1,087,903 votes
on Tuesday, had to go hat in hand to the State House yesterday to meet the most powerful guy in state government,
Speaker Tom Finneran, who got 7,614 votes on Tuesday.
What am I missing here?
Mitt was striding through the State House like Dudley
Do-Right, but he still had to defer to a hack who represents such a rotten borough that until late yesterday, city election
officials hadn't even bothered to report the final number.
They call it the 12th Suffolk District, but by now, Tommy
Taxes has grabbed about a third of the town of Milton, which is in Norfolk County. Every 10 years, Tommy Taxes has to annex
more of Milton in order to recapture all of his white voters who have been fleeing Boston.
But the point is, how does a guy who gets elected by 8,000
people have more clout than someone who was picked by 1.1 million?
And another thing. In 18 House districts, the voters were
asked whether their reps should vote for Tommy Taxes' re-election as speaker. In all 16 of the districts that have
reported their returns (the other two are in Boston, naturally), the electorate voted thumbs down to
Everyone loathes Tommy Taxes and wants him gone and yet he
still controls the $23 billion state budget. How can we miss him when he won't go away?
And he's not the only payroll patriot from the city whose
ring Mitt must kiss. Yesterday he also huddled briefly with the next Senate president, Bob Travaglini of East Boston.
Compared to Finneran, though, Bobby Trav is an electoral dynamo - he got
The reason I bring this up is the deep consternation in
certain circles about another huge number that was rung up on Tuesday - 881,738, to be exact.
That was the number of Massachusetts citizens who voted yes
on Question 1, to abolish their state income taxes. Some people are scratching their heads, saying, what message was this
mean-spirited 45 percent of the electorate trying to deliver to Beacon Hill?
As one of the 881,738, I can answer that question. We meant
to stop paying state income taxes. We desired to opt for the New Hampshire solution. We wanted a 5.3 percent pay
We are tired of our money being squandered by what Mitt so
brilliantly called "the Gang of Three." Why would we want to give any more money to pols we never have the opportunity
to vote out of office, unless they make the fatal error of trying to run statewide, the way Tom
When you add up all the taxes that we pay - state, federal,
local, tolls, etc. - it amounts to at least half of what we earn every week. But at least with the feds, you can delude
yourself into thinking that maybe someday you'll collect Social Security and Medicare. And when a
Hellfire missile evaporates a car-full of terrorists in Yemen, you know at least some of your
federal tax dollars are being used wisely.
But what exactly do your state tax dollars pay for?
Disability pensions for mobbed-up Dukakoid ex-con sheriffs.
State police speed traps. Welfare forms printed in 17 foreign languages. Pay raises for cops (and soon firefighters)
who take phony "college" courses. A paid holiday every June on Bunker Hill Day for
everyone in the state named Bulger, Travaglini, Finneran and O'Brien.
The hacks all wring their hands and say that eliminating the
state income tax would cut $9 billion from the state budget. To which 881,738 of us responded as one, quoting Travis
Tritt: Here's a quarter, call someone who cares.
Meanwhile, after his morning sit-down with Gov.-elect
Do-Right, Tommy Taxes graciously said he was willing to play ball with a guy who got more votes in 13 hours on Tuesday than
Finneran has garnered in his entire career.
"We're going to need to develop a working relationship," he
said, "and I'll work night and day to do it."
And the rest of us will have to work night and day to pay
all the taxes that Tommy Taxes wants to pummel us with.
As for Mitt, Tommy Taxes patronized him the way he does
everybody. "He's bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and ready to go."
Ready to go? If only the same could be said of you, Tommy
Taxes. On that, many more than 881,738 of us voters agree.
Howie Carr's radio show can be heard every weekday afternoon on
WRKO AM 680, WHYN AM 560, WGAN AM 560, WEIM AM 1280, WXTK 95.1 FM or online at
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The MetroWest Daily News
Friday, November 8, 2002
Finneran says party must change
By John Gregg
House Speaker Tom Finneran yesterday said he would support
cutting the state's capital gains tax to spur job creation and also blasted the "economic ignorance" of his own
Although he defended a $1.2 billion tax increase this summer
as "absolutely essential" to balance the state's budget, Finneran said the package may have been too aggressive in
hiking cigarette taxes and in aligning Massachusetts' long-term capital gains tax with the state's 5.3
percent income tax.
Finneran said he would favor reducing the capital-gains tax
as a signal to employers and investors. Capital gains are profits made on stocks, real estate, and other investments.
"I think it's going to be important for Massachusetts to set
itself apart from other states," Finneran said in a speech to the Marlborough Rotary Club. "We live by our instincts, by
research development, brains, entrepreneurial innovation, and the treatment of capital gains
... is very important."
But Finneran said dropping the capital-gains tax to zero
percent for long-term investments -- a measure engineered by then-Gov. William Weld eight years ago -- is "politically
The House Speaker, who joked he was "born and baptized a
Democrat," said he had not mentioned his support for reducing the capital-gains tax in a meeting yesterday morning with
Republican Gov.-elect Mitt Romney, but has discussed the matter with some fellow
"There's a psychology that we have to try to create, as well
as a policy, that it would probably be helpful to send a signal that Massachusetts is not closed to business, but rather
open to, and actively encouraging it," Finneran told the News. "I suspect that Mr. Romney
would probably think that would be a nice arrow in whatever economic development quiver
we put together."
But Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom said the former venture
capitalist had dismissed the idea of cutting the capital-gains tax during the campaign.
"Our focus is on fundamentally restructuring government,
such that we can balance the budget without raising taxes. What you're talking about is not a priority," said
Fehrnstrom. "Mitt talked about that during the campaign. It's not something we're
Michael Widmer, the president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers
Foundation, said a reduction in the capital-gains tax for long-term holdings could be designed to cost the state only
about $25 million a year in revenue, and he supported Finneran's proposal.
"We feel that it would be very important to preserve some
long-term incentive for capital investments, and that encourages the kind of economic development and job growth
that's important for the Massachusetts economy," Widmer said.
Finneran also said a new 75-cent increase in the cigarette
tax may ultimately prompt smokers to buy cigarettes over the Internet, from Indian reservations, or in bordering states.
"You've tied yourself to a revenue source that's not going
to grow, like the income tax usually does. You've tied yourself to a revenue source that's going to decline," he said.
Finneran blamed his party's dismal showing in Tuesday's
elections on many Democrats' "casual and sometimes almost contemptuous" regard for private-sector employers.
"I'm worried about the direction of the party. I'm worried
about the economic ignorance that seems to be almost woven into our platform and our party planks," said
With the state facing up to a $2 billion deficit next year,
Finneran said cuts to local aid and Medicaid coverage are almost certain. He said increasing state employees' health
insurance premiums from 15 to 25 percent "is going to have to be on the table," as would changes to
the Quinn bill, which provides extra payments to police officers who earn college and
But Finneran was adamant in saying he would reject any
effort to sell bonds based on the state's 1998 settlement with the tobacco industry, which could net about $1.4 billion in a
one-time payment. Massachusetts gets about $288 million a year from the long-term
"Absolutely not. Under no circumstance," Finneran said of
talk of "securitizing" the tobacco money. "I will die on my sword on that one. That would be the single dumbest decision we
could ever make. No, no, no."
Finneran also said he would be reluctant to thwart a ballot
question overwhelmingly approved by voters that calls for the abolition of bilingual education.
"I hesitate to touch anything the voters have spoken on,"
Finneran said. "The public has been most emphatic on this. They blew (bilingual education) out of the water."
During his campaign, Romney called for merging the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority with
MassHighway, saying it could save the state $50 million.
"That's a lot of shekels, and I'm not sure there is $50
million in any administrative consolidation, but again, there is a receptivity," Finneran said.
Although Romney had used a poster of Finneran to warn of a
"gang of three" on Beacon Hill should Democrat Shannon O'Brien be elected governor, the House speaker said he was
"very encouraged" by his meeting with the Republican victor.
And Finneran said the governor-elect had autographed a new
poster that included Romney with Finneran and presumptive Senate President Robert Travaglini with the words, "Mitt
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