Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Long Past Time to End "Temporary" Income Tax Hike

The "temporary" Dukakis income tax increase will become 18-years old later this month.  It was seven years ago when voters, tired of waiting for the Legislature to keep its promise and return it to its traditional 5 percent, phased it down themselves on the 2000 ballot. Despite those voters’ mandate, two years later the Legislature froze the rate at 5.3% – again "temporarily."  That was five years ago and counting.

Last fall candidate Deval Patrick, asked about the "temporary tax" and the "will of the voters," said that he thought voters would prefer a property tax cut instead of an income tax cut, and pledged to deliver one.

He’s been governor since January, has submitted his first budget:  The income tax rate is still 5 3%.  Certain property tax relief is still nowhere in sight.

This morning in Room 437 the Legislature’s Committee on Revenue will hear CLT’s bill, S-1701, "An Act Restoring The 5 Percent Income Tax Rate," sponsored by Sen. Scott P. Brown (R-Wrentham), which reads:

"Notwithstanding any special or general law to the contrary, for taxable years commencing on or after January first, two thousand and seven, Part B taxable income shall be taxed at the lowest rate otherwise set by law but not to exceed 5.0 percent."

Francis "Chip" Faulkner, CLT’s associate director, will attend to testify in favor of the voters’ decision and an immediate rollback to 5 percent.

Despite the doom-and-gloom hand-wringing of past months, state revenue increased by more than a billion dollars over projections during the past fiscal year.  Despite the-sky-is-falling rhetoric, Gov. Patrick has proposed billions more in new programs and spending, which some in the Legislature are championing.

When will voters and their overwhelming 2000 mandate – that the "temporary" income tax hike of 1989 be restored to its traditional 5 percent – finally be respected?

Will legislators again thumb their noses at voters and taxpayers?  Will we go into Year Nineteen with the legislative promise still broken, voters still denied democracy, ignored and defied?  Or will citizens’ ballot decisions finally mean something, even if belatedly?

If not now, when?

Was it a promise eighteen years ago?  The voters decided in 2000 that it was and time to be kept.  You can decide for yourself:

How long can that legislative broken promise of convenience go on?

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