Limited Taxation
Post Office Box 408     Peabody, Massachusetts   01960     (508) 384-0100
E-Mail:       Web-page:

CLT Update
Friday, February 5, 1999

"When you take all those (capital) needs and line them up, then you get to the reality that we don't have enough revenues coming in to pay for the needs going out."

Sen. Robert Havern

"It's MINE!" reverberates through the corridors of a State House awash in tax overpayments and excess revenue. "MINE, MINE, MINE!" the pols cry out in lust, "More Is Never Enough!"

The state budget has doubled from $10 billion a mere dozen years ago to $20 billion today, but even ten billion more is not enough spending of our hard-earned money. "More Is Never Enough!"

"We've got it, so now it's MINE, MINE, MINE!"

Will one of those self-serving pols please explain how they can double the budget in only twelve years -- spend an additional TEN BILLION DOLLARS more of our earnings -- and still be crying "unmet needs" and "fiscal crisis"? The state somehow got through its first 207 years with a budget of under $10 billion, and the Commonwealth managed to survive.

If they can't manage the state on $10 billion, and they can't manage the state on $20 billion ... how much more will "The Best Legislature Money Can Buy" take from us to do the job?

More to the point, is this gang even capable of doing it at any price?

Excess taxes have been pouring in for years, more and faster than even the most profligate pols should be able to spend, yet still they cry "More Is Never Enough" for "unmet needs." The so-called rainy day fund now chokes on cash, its ceiling twice raised over as many years to make more room. Another billion dollars in surplus is piling up, and additional hundreds of millions more annually will be filling the state coffers from the opened "tobacco settlement" spigot - and still they cry "MORE, MORE, MORE!"

Even minor relief for the taxpayer, like reducing Registry of Motor Vehicles fees, is now under assault as "dumb."


This is insanity. This truly is very sick behavior.

Chip Ford --

State House News Service
February 3, 1999

Legislator Says Use $300M of Surplus
on Road and Bridge Projects

FEB. 3, 1999 ... TH ... One of the Legislature's top experts on debt issues today said the state should spend $300 million of this year's anticipated budget surplus on local road and bridge projects that some on Beacon Hill say are being squeezed out by the Big Dig.

According to House Long-Term Debt Committee vice-chairman Frank Hynes, the state is deep in debt - even though it's expected to end the year with a large cash surplus. Currently, the state issues $1 billion in bonds annually. The $10.8 billion Central Artery/Tunnel is consuming an increasing portion of those borrowed funds.

Combine that pressure with a drastic drop in federal transportation aid and the state will have all the makings of a brand-new fiscal crisis, Hynes said today.

"We're still borrowing but we have obligations for each of the next five years," Hynes said. "Instead of waiting five years, we should now recognize that and use the surplus."

Massachusetts currently has the third-largest per capita debt load in the country, behind only Connecticut and Hawaii. State officials are planning to issue new bonds that will put the state on the hook for the Big Dig until 2015, 10 years longer than originally promised.

Hynes (D-Marshfield) and committee chairwoman Patricia Walrath (D-Stow) say the high level of debt stems from the state's need to rebuild and repave roads and bridges neglected during the fiscal crisis of the late 1980s and early 90s. As the state pays for those projects, it must also fund its share of the mammoth Central Artery/Tunnel project.

Their comments came after a presentation this morning by the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation warning that the state's capital budget is "reaching the breaking point." According to MTF president Michael Widmer, the state must cut back on capital projects or spend surplus dollars so it can remain within its voluntary $1 billion annual bond cap.

Capital projects like roads, schools and libraries are usually paid for with bonds, which help spread out the costs over several decades.

Widmer said the state is caught between keeping its promises to stick to the $1 billion bond cap and to pay for the Big Dig. Compounding the problem is a sharp drop in federal aid, which had been set at about $800 million for the last few years. Under a plan crafted last year in Washington, Massachusetts will only get about $500 million annually, even though the Big Dig is entering its most expensive phase.

Big Dig payments will cost the state $131 million this fiscal year with payments jumping to $225 million next year and $200 million in 2001.

Last month, Cellucci said he would recommend using cash from the operating budget to pay for worthy capital projects. This afternoon, Hynes said he was pleased the governor had changed his mind.

"That's good news if we don't have to fight," Hynes said. Last summer, Hynes criticized Cellucci for vetoing parts of a $200 million supplemental budget that used budget surpluses to pay for capital projects. "The time has come to put this together. You cannot consider the surplus in isolation."

Cellucci's call for a major income tax cut rings hollow when considered along with the capital needs, Hynes said. "Our credit cards are maxed out," he said. "To reduce our revenue stream and not address the deficit in your capital budget will create a crisis."

Senate Transportation Committee chairman Robert Havern (D-Arlington) thinks using surplus money to pay for road and bridge projects makes sense. He said moves by the Legislature and the administration to phase out automobile registration fees were "kind of dumb." Abolishing registry and license fees will cost the state about $100 million annually when fully phased in.

Havern gave a similar Big Dig cost presentation to Senate Democrats last week, and recommended the surplus diversion as one solution. He added that he expects Cellucci to file a transportation bond bill in a few weeks, with an eye to fast-track approval.

"When you take all those (capital) needs and line them up, then you get to the reality that we don't have enough revenues coming in to pay for the needs going out," Havern said. "The identification of the problem is monolithic. I'd be lying if I said there was a consensus on what we're going to do."

NOTE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to:

Return to CLT Updates page