Memo to the Massachusetts Senate
Senate Budget: No new taxes, and, EBT cards.

Monday, May 21, 2012

To:  Members of the Massachusetts Senate
       May 21, 2012
Re:  Senate Budget: No new taxes, and, EBT cards

We are happy to learn that there are no new taxes in the Senate Ways & Means Committee budget. As always, we want to see the income tax rate restored to its traditional 5%, as we were promised when the increased rate passed in 1989 “temporarily,” and then as voters mandated in 2000; therefore we support Senator Tarr’s Amendment #9. We also support Senator Tarr’s Amendment #36, restoring the sales tax rate to 5 percent.

If we still can’t get the income tax rate cut voters demanded, we would at least appreciate being assured that our hard-earned money won’t be used for EBT cards for welfare recipients to spend on “firearms, cosmetics, jewelry, travel services, health clubs, tattoo parlors and gambling…at liquor stores, casinos, strip clubs, smoke shops, gun dealers, tattoo parlors, nail salons, health spas, rent-a-centers, electronics & appliance stores, jewelry shops, gyms, movie theaters, bail bonds and bars.” (State House News Service). We support Senator Hedlund’s Amendment #405.

We appreciate that the House budget seeks to prohibit some misuse of the cards. But it seems obvious that as long as they can be used at ATM machines for cash, taxpayer money will be spent on any of these things at any of these places and more, including the already prohibited alcohol, tobacco and lottery tickets.

With all the negative commentary on this issue in the past month, we were surprised that Senate Ways & Means has not dealt seriously with this issue.

The Senate "reform" would spend an additional three-quarters of a million dollars to chase down "anecdotal" EBT card criminals all over the state, arrest and charge them, process them through the already overcrowded court system at an additional expense to taxpayers (including the cost of their taxpayer-funded 'public defenders'), theoretically convict them, then potentially jail them at yet more taxpayer expense. Even if the state obtains convictions, how do deadbeats pay restitution or a fine? It would be easier to not allow EBT cards to be used for cash, to be spent on things many taxpayers cannot afford themselves.

Citizens for Limited Taxation    PO Box 1147    Marblehead, MA 01945    508-915-3665