CLT’s best shot at a summary of the latest
(a PDF file):
Though the commission includes some of the original
1980 opponents of Proposition 2˝ and we can identify no friends of
Prop 2˝, it is very concerned about property tax increases. It
recommends local aid changes and someone should do something about the
Don’t even think about rolling back the income tax rate to 5 percent,
in fact a ˝% increase would be nice, or maybe a 1% hike in the sales
tax; but for sure, an increase in the auto excise, the creation of
local option taxes and an internet hotel sales tax, maybe the
telecommunications tax depending on who wins the debate, the mayors or
And give communities the tools to control costs if it’s still
necessary after the new revenues arrive and if the teachers unions
don’t object too much.
Note page 37: new growth receipts of 2.4% added to
the allowed 2.5% of Prop 2˝.. This means that property tax receipts have
averaged 4.9% increase per year.
Nice charts, though where is the chart showing the recommended increase
in auto excise costs for drivers?
The narrative leaves something to be desired. Sample paragraph (emphasis
"Although some observers occasionally
suggest that some municipal employment contracts have been
overly generous in recent years, it seems that
most have been conservative enough to produce annual
average growth per
employee of only 0.7%, in inflation-adjusted terms between 1994 and
2003, compared to 1.8% for private sector and 1.0% for state employees
over the same period."
What the heck does that tell us? Add health care and pension benefits. Then ask the private unions if they are doing so much better. And in 96
pages, shouldn’t they have found a place to compare municipal pay with
teachers’ salaries, which other recent reports place above the national
Why is everything in the report "per employee" or "per capita," except
the tax burden, which is "relative to personal income," 45th in the
nation? If it too were per capita, it would be 4th-highest in the
CLT supports the section "Giving Municipalities the Tools to Control
Costs." Do that first, before new revenues, or the Legislature and
municipalities won’t ever get around to the "tools" part.
Report language on auto excise hike:
"A more realistic depreciation schedule would require only a slight
modification to current law while generating significant new revenues
We know that Hamill Commission member Michael Widmer of the so-called
Taxpayers Foundation has been recommending a hike in the auto excise
rate from $25 to $35 per thousand. This is not in the report, but the
"slight modification" would be a major tax increase for drivers of new
cars – just as gas prices have increased and people contemplate buying
smaller, more efficient vehicles.
Local option taxes have been discussed for years. The conclusion is
always that they adversely affect intercommunity commerce. So in fact
they will not work unless every community adopts the tax, which means it
is no longer local option. This is another plot like "local option"
smoking bans that the state eventually had to impose everywhere to
"level the playing field."
Bottom line. The vague language, laying out long-known problems,
recommending vague tax increases and formula changes, with less than
definitive reforms, makes this report basically useless except as
another Boston business community statement against the income tax
rollback, a stealth attack on Massachusetts drivers and the first step
in mandatory local taxes.
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