Limited Taxation & Government
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Barbara's Bi-Weekly column

The Patriot Ledger
Saturday, May 9, 1998

Yes, there is a bright side to failed tax cut
By Barbara Anderson

Well, so far, May has not been a great month.

First the Massachusetts Teachers Association prevailed in its determination to keep an income tax rollback off the November ballot. Darn.

I really wanted to find out if the voters in this state would make the Legislature keep its promise.

The Superior Court determined that the petition was 26 signatures short of the required 64,928.

This means that if only 26 mall shoppers who were too busy to sign the petition had stopped for a minute on their way to saving $1.69 at a sock sale, the average taxpayer could have kept $500 a year of his own money that now goes into the state surplus.

The next thing to go wrong was that the Massachusetts House passed its version of the state budget, which contains more tax increases than tax cuts.

It also includes pay raises for Speaker Finneran’s closest cronies, as well as for two Republicans to keep the minority party in line. Don’t you hate it when that happens?

The same week, Marblehead town meeting supported more than $800,000 in Proposition 2 debt exclusion overrides; I assure you the vote was not unanimous, but there were as usual very few of us who dared to defy the "education" establishment.

Last year the schools wanted an override because of deferred maintenance and vandalism; this year they found mold, fungi and mildew that, as an override supporter explained, "no one told the janitors to remove as it was growing."

Since a government-declared energy crisis during the ‘70s resulted in taxpayer dollars being used to create air-tight buildings, all those little spores recycled around the school and into children’s lungs, giving the school administration a perfect excuse to take more of our money.

Pay attention, Dick and Jane; see government work.

My mother is a philosopher who insists that things always work out for the best, and my own lifetime experience says she is right. When I told her about my month so far, she told me to look at the bright side, so here it is.

Although the volunteers and voters who were responsible for almost enough signatures will not get a tax cut, the bright side is that neither will the taxpayers who were too busy or apathetic to sign the petition when asked.

The bright side of the town meeting votes is that Prop. 2 cannot be overridden by town meeting, only by the voters, and since the income tax rollback is dead, I and other activists around the state have more time to work on defeating overrides this spring.

If that doesn’t work, I plan to stop maintaining and cleaning my home, then apply for a property tax abatement on the grounds that leaks, mold, fungi and mildew have decreased its value.

It’s harder to find a bright side of the rapidly increasing state budget and the tax increases contained therein, but I’m developing a plan to simplify my life, earn less while having more time for myself, and maybe getting below the no-tax-status threshold where I won’t have to pay any state income tax at all!

Meanwhile, the House has at least passed a cut in the investment income tax that we’ll hope survives the Senate; if it doesn’t there will probably be a ballot question to let voters do it themselves.

And with the wage and salary tax cut off the ballot, there is an extra $1.2 billion in state revenues a year, far more than necessary to repeal those turnpike tolls!

These two initiative petitions are coming to a mall or street corner near you; here’s a chance for last fall’s apathetic shoppers to redeem themselves by taking time to sign them!

As someone once said, "Retreat hell! We’re just fighting in another direction."

And as I was saying, the lilacs are in bloom, it’s time to get a weekend tan, get a springtime life. Isn’t May a lovely month?

Barbara Anderson is co-director of Citizens for Limited Taxation and Government. Her column appears bi-weekly and is syndicated by the Patriot Ledger News Service.

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