Limited Taxation
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CLT Update
Tuesday, January 11, 2000


"If they keep attaching things like this it'll just grow because everyone will try to get their share."

Ivan Sever of Needham
State Chapter Coordinator
National Motorists Association

Hundreds upon hundreds of millions in tax over-payment "surplus revenue" pouring in, over a billion taxpayer dollars squirreled away in rainy-day funds, additional hundreds of millions annually from the tobacco settlement so-called "taxpayer reimbursement" that's either being spent or stashed away out of our reach, the Registry of Motor Vehicles raking in a 500 percent profit in fees above and beyond its cost for providing its service, a state budget that has doubled in just the last decade ... and still -- still! -- this is not enough.

It never is. It never will be. More is never enough. "MINE, MINE, MINE!"

So long as you have a single cent left, government and the Gimme Lobby will try to take it away from you for "higher purposes," whether through taxes, fees or fines -- but always by force. Little by little, by God, the pols and special interests intend to get it all.

Folks, just "Remember in November."

And watch out for those speed-revenue traps!

CFord-Sig2.gif (4854 bytes)

Chip Ford

PS. You can contact the Massachusetts chapter of the National Motorists Association (of which I was made an honorary life member many years ago), which fights speeding-fines-as-revenue-enhancements, at:

or e-mail Ivan Sever at:

The Boston Herald
Friday, January 7, 2000

Mass. speeders face $25 bump in fine
by Robin Washington

Drivers nabbed for speeding on Bay State roads will soon have to fork over an extra $25 per violation, under a little-known surcharge passed in the state budget last fall.

The surcharge, earmarked for a head injury trust fund, will take effect next month as soon as authorities can print new tickets and reprogram Registry computers.

"The baseline cost for speeding just went up by 50 percent. Obviously, I encourage people not to speed," said Registrar of Motor Vehicles Dan Grabauskas, whose office is charged with implementing the law with state and local police.

Most ticket fines are $50 up to 10 mph over the limit, then $10 for each mph above that. But drivers already skeptical of speeding laws used as revenue generators decried the increase. Speeding fines should be about safety and the fines should go toward roads or cars. It shouldn't be used for other things," said motorist Ivan Sever of Needham.

While calling the fund a noble cause, Sever worried about endlessly rising fines as other groups latch on to the trend.

"If they keep attaching things like this it'll just grow because everyone will try to get their share," he said.

The surcharge adds as much as $6 million to the nearly $45 million collected from about 300,000 speeders annually. The amount supplements roughly $6.4 million budgeted yearly for head injury rehabilitation out of the state's general revenue funds.

That core budget has remained virtually unchanged since first authorized by former Gov. Michael Dukakis in the mid-1980s, despite a rising number of head injury cases, advocates said.

"We're sitting here now with people who have no services and $6.4 million, it's gone in no time," said Arlene Korab, executive director of the Massachusetts Brain Injury Association.

"We kept going back to the Legislature and they would say fine, but the governor would say no and put a red pen through it."

The latest funding method, sponsored by House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Haley (D-Weymouth), changed the state speeding law after surviving a veto by Gov. Paul Cellucci by a vote of 141-17. The Cellucci administration likened the surcharge to a broad-based tax.

"We're supportive of the goals, which is to fund residential and home rehabilitation services for persons with head injuries. But we think it should be financed through the standard budgeting process," said Cellucci spokesman Joe Landolfi.

Yet supporters say that is exactly where Cellucci failed them.

"Last year after (Cellucci) vetoed it, he publicly said he didn't like the language and asked the Legislature to pass $2 million in a supplement but it never came down. We asked for a meeting and were told there's no time for meetings," she said.

The mother of a Northeastern student who suffered permanent brain injury in a car accident in 1980, Korab said people needing long-term head injury rehabilitation are not covered by other state programs.

"Retardation has a department. Mental health has one. We kept going to these places and they said your child is not mentally ill or retarded," she said.

Despite the victory for her side, however, Korab said she understood that some drivers would be upset.

"I know that some people won't be happy about it but we're not happy that we have to go this route," she said.

"This isn't something we thought of on our own. Many other states have trust funds that support brain injuries."

About 10 states have similar funds, though the cost per violation to speeders is generally lower -- as little as $2 in Arizona and $5 in Louisiana. The states impose much heftier surcharges for drunk drivers, as does Massachusetts under a law amended in the 1997 budget to allow for a $125 surcharge.

But speeding is different, and in many cases, it's unavoidable, say drivers.

"My mother, who is 80, got a speeding ticket," Sever said.

"She was doing 35 in a 30-mph zone in her Oldsmobile with 5,000 miles on it. It's easy to say don't speed but it's very difficult in this state."

The Boston Sunday Herald
January 9, 1999

Mass. motorists keep running tab with Legislature
by Howie Carr

So what if the kleptomaniacs in the state Legislature sneaked through another hike in speeding tickets. Who cares if the hackerama is so eager to rob us again some State Police say they've been ordered to start adding the $25 surcharge even though nobody's had time to print new tickets yet.

And yes, this latest shakedown will "only" net the hacks $6 million at a time when they're steadfastly clinging to the billion-dollar-plus surplus they're stealing from us.

We motorists are still not paying enough.

Or so the pickpockets on Beacon Hill think. The solons still believe that the commonwealth's 4,420,797 licensed drivers are not contributing nearly our fair share, to use the so-called advocates' favorite phrase.

So let's look at the numbers, compiled Friday from a variety of sources. Let us consider the ways in which they were already stealing from us, even before this latest $25 shakedown for the children, er, the head-injury victims.

This first batch of numbers comes from the Commuter Tax Relief Coalition, a group that began as Free the Pike. These are the guys who are trying to put a question on the ballot that would give everybody an income-tax credit on whatever you pay in excise taxes and tolls.

Anyway, here's the Free the Pike list:

  • $200 million in tolls. (This is very close: the Pike admits to grabbing $180 million a year, and Massport acknowledges taking $11.6 million in tolls last year on the Tobin bridge.)
  • $400 million in excise taxes, and what a bargain they are, especially when you have pay it on a leased car.
  • $1 billion in gas taxes, half of which goes to the feds, but is quickly shipped back here after the D.C. skim.
  • $600 million, estimated, in sales taxes on vehicles, and we all know how that scam works. Say your grandmother gives you her old car. Even if it was a gift, you still have to pay sales tax on it unless you petition the World Court for relief. Personally, in Brussels.

Then there's the Registry of Motor Vehicles. Asked for a list of fees, they cheerfully said they'd fax over a one-sheet. Six sheets later, I made an executive decision to only go with the obvious fees.

For instance, a regular driver's license, $33.75, replacement of same, $15. Registration of vehicle, $30. A certificate of title will cost you $50, a duplicate $25, which is the same charge as for amending a title, or adding/deleting a lienholder. Other $25 charges: salvage title, reconstructed title, recovered-theft title.... You get the picture.

Next, inspection stickers. Until September, they cost $15. Now it's $29. You only get the deluxe inspection every other year, but you have to pay the 95 percent increase every year, whether you get the super-duper or not.

Then there's insurance, and what few state reps the teachers' unions don't own, the auto-insurance companies outbid them on. Which is why moving violations and fender-benders are the gifts that truly keep on giving. That $50 ticket for running a stop sign -- over the next six years, it'll cost you closer to $1,000 in higher insurance bills.

Say an accident costs you four points on your driving record. Every year you drive safely, you get one point back. At the end of four years, you're even and you start earning bonus points again, right? Wrong. You have to wait two more years.'

One thing about Gov. Cellucci. At least he vetoed this latest $25 ticket rip-off. But his veto was overridden in the House, 141-17, which means some Republicans went along with the klepto Democrat majority.

Why didn't somebody give us a heads-up about this last fall before it was too late? How come we had to wait for a tip from a p.o.'ed trooper? Where is the Republican party on Beacon Hill?

By now you've seen the new Massachusetts quarter. On the tail side is one of the state's traditional symbols -- the Minuteman. Historically speaking, it's the right pick, but couldn't we have used a more up-to-date representation of the People's Republic?

Say, a toll collector leaning out of his booth, hand out.

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