and the
Citizens Economic Research Foundation

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Senate budget debate and the 17-year "temporary" tax hike

To:  Members of the Massachusetts Senate
         May 18, 2006
Re:  Senate budget

We’re as tired of sending these memos about the income tax rollback as you are tired of receiving them. But we don’t think it’s right to give up. We pledged, seventeen years ago, to hold the Legislature to its promise that the income tax hike would be "temporary," and we like to keep our word, even if the Legislature doesn’t.

Folks, it’s well past time to return the state income tax to 5 percent. You know that as well as we do.

Please stop playing ignorant. You know a promise was made back then. Voters – by a majority of 59-41 percent – confirmed this fact in 2000, whether you like it or not.

Stop jerking your constituents around. If you have no intention of ever lowering the income tax rate, at least be honest and say so. Don’t set conditions on the rollback voters demanded six years ago. Don’t say you’re waiting for a certain local aid level, or rainy day fund level, or third blue moon in a year. Don’t tell them that 2014 is a good date to do what you were told to do by 2003.

Stop jerking them around with "we’ve got to wait and see" when what you are waiting to see is how fast you can spend us into another fiscal crisis, then raise the income tax rate again.

The "Senate Committee on Ways and Means has made a commitment in our fiscal year 2007 budget recommendations to focus on community, residents, and the future of the Commonwealth." (Senator Therese Murray, for the Ways & Means Committee.)

If there is to be a true community, its elected leaders must respect its members. Our question to Senator Murray: How can you have a viable "community" based on lies, broken promises, and lack of respect for the community members who pay the bills?

Taxpayers are residents too. We are the residents who dream of getting out and finding a community with lower taxes and more regard for its productive members.

The Commonwealth as we see it today doesn’t have much of a future. As you drive out the middle class and small business owners, you’ll be left with only those needing services, and wealthy MTF members who will also tire of high taxes and follow the middle class to a better "community" in another state. Then who’ll pay the bills, especially the "fixed costs" – health care and pension costs that are not only "rising" but being increased by you as well?

CLT expects its pro-taxpayer Senate allies to file an amendment to immediately drop the income tax rate to 5 percent. We can’t make you vote for it. But if you do not, we are determined to keep reminding the voters that you can’t be trusted, so that when you try to raise the income tax rate during the next fiscal crisis now being created, they’ll know you are lying when you say it will be temporary.

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