Limited Taxation
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Barbara's Column
December 1999 #2

There's more to life than sleigh bells
By Barbara Anderson
December 23, 1999

At the end of a the year, it is customary for a political columnist to look at what the Legislature did during those twelve months. I suppose this time we should also look back at what it did during the past decade and century.

Suddenly, I am sympathetic to those who say the next decade, century and of course millennium don't begin until 2001. Let's pretend that the New Year begins at the spring equinox and forget the whole project.

The truth is, at this time of holiday celebration, I seek tidings of comfort and joy, not memories of the Massachusetts General Court. All I really wanted for Christmas was to forget about the Legislature entirely: Now Tommy, now Thomas, Montigny and Haley!; On Petersen, Clancy, Slattery and Berry! To the top of the State House, through the Great Hall, now dash away, dash away, dash away all!

Santa didn't bring the Legislature anything, you know. He left a note in each of their stockings: "You keep saying that when you sat on my lap at the mall I promised you a present, but I didn't, and if I did, that was then, this is now, and besides I gave your toy to some other kids who have lobbyists at the North Pole."

Which reminds me, somehow: Peace on earth, good will to all those citizens who collected and signed the income tax rollback petition.

An opponent of the petition argued that he was on Nantucket during its annual Christmas stroll, where some strollers were dining in restaurants that charge $100 a person. He took this as proof that the rest of us, who dine at Papa Gino's, also don't need a tax cut, and further that we don't want one because he didn't hear any shoppers talking about cutting taxes.

My friend Brad White asked this question: why would folks on a shopping trip have taxes as a topic of discussion anyway? and added that he was recently at a Bruins game and the subject did not come up there either.

My associate Chip Faulkner wrote a Christmas carol. Sing along with us to the tune of White Christmas:

"I'm dreaming of a lighter tax bill, just like the one I used to know.

Where our paychecks glisten, and politicians listen,

To voters demanding the rate be low.

I'm dreaming of a lighter tax bill, with every tax bill check I write.

May the taxpayers be merry and bright, when they win the tax cut ballot fight."

Well, what did you expect, Irving Berlin? There's more to life than sleigh bells in the snow, kids.

By the way, don't worry about Massachusetts readiness for Y2K: Senator David Magnani (D-Framingham) will be in the Commonwealth's command bunker on New Year's Eve. The reason for his presence, ostensibly, is that he is the Chairman of the Science and Technology Committee, one of the Legislature's biggest jokes. Can you trust him to do the right thing in case of emergency? Allow me to quote from his local newspaper, July 9, 1989: "In defending his vote (for the income tax rate increase), Magnani yesterday emphasized that the hikes would only be in place for 18 months, and that revenue generated would only go towards past bills."

Needless to say, 125 months later, Bunker Magnani is still spending that extra money on new programs instead of rolling back the rate. In fact, he and almost all legislators, Democrat and Republican, just voted to override Governor Cellucci's veto of so-called "education" money that cities and towns now tell us they don't even need.

That veto override is certainly one of my fonder memories of the past legislative year. I'd list more, but here comes Father Time, dragging the 1999 General Court behind him.

Should auld legislative acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind? Sure, why not. But Happy New Year to the rest of you, for auld lang syne.

Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation.  Her syndicated columns appear in the Salem Evening News, the Lowell Sun, the Tinytown Gazette and MediaNews Group newspapers around the state.

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