In 1989, due to fiscal mismanagement by the Dukakis administration, the state
income tax rate was "temporarily" increased from 5 percent to 5.75 percent. The
estimated $793 million annual revenue increase was to be used to close a $375 million FY
'89 budget gap, to compensate hospitals for $50 million lost through a shortfall in
federal Medicare funding -- and to pay $484 million in past Medicaid bills.
A decade later, taxpayers have long ago paid off the state's Medicaid debt but the
"temporary" income tax rate is still stuck at 5.95 percent.
In his lawsuit against the tobacco industry, Attorney General Scott Harshbarger
argued before the courts: "[E]ach year, the Commonwealth must spend
millions of dollars to purchase or provide medical and related services for Massachusetts
citizens suffering from diseases caused by cigarette smoking. ... The
'smoking-related costs to the Commonwealth' are said to include, but not be limited to,
'medical assistance provided under Massachusetts' Medicaid program' and 'medical
assistance provided under the Common Health Program.' The complaint seeks 'both monetary
damages and injunctive relief.'"
He added: "As the Supreme Judicial Court has held, reimbursement is simply
'repaying or making good the amount paid out.'"
In the New York state lawsuit against the tobacco industry, its Attorney General
noted: In 1994, a number of states took the unprecedented step of commencing legal actions
against manufacturers of tobacco products and other related entities seeking,
inter alia, money damages for the substantial public health costs incurred through
Medicaid and other programs associated with the treatment and care of
persons suffering from tobacco-related illnesses such as cancer, emphysema, and heart
Only one Attorney General seems to have separated himself from the ongoing
bait-and-switch scam, Charles M. Condon of South Carolina, who stated of the settlement in
a news release:
"These funds -- the $2.2 billion dollars designated for South
Carolina -- are reimbursements -- reimbursements to the taxpayers of our state for dollars
"It would be a terrible injustice if those funds were used to
pay for more government programs and more bureaucracy or to grow the government in any
"Let's give this money back to the taxpayers."
The taxpayers have paid the cost of health care for uninsured smokers with
tobacco-related illnesses; we have paid the same Medicaid bill over and over again a
number of times. A decade later and we are still burdened with the promised
"temporary" income tax increase, a huge revenue surplus due to continued
over-taxation, and now an additional $8.3 billion taxpayer "reimbursement" that
some want to spend.
It took 207 years for the state to reach its first $10 billion budget, but only
the last dozen to more than double it. When is enough enough?
I hope this Legislature will not be a party to the ongoing bait-and-switch scam,
and will insure that taxpayers get their long overdue promised relief, that they finally
receive their just reimbursement for their decades of compassion.
As then-Attorney General Harshbarger so aptly pointed out to the court, using the
very words of the Supreme Judicial Court itself: