Limited Taxation
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CLT Update
Friday, April 30, 1999

As you can conclude from both Newton freshman-Rep. Balser's speech during the tax cut debate on Wednesday (which we reported yesterday), and from House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Haley's budget proposal, the only way to save the Beacon Hill pols from themselves -- and save our money from being squandered on more and more government -- is by taking it away from them, keeping it ourselves before they get their hands on it to spend.

But forcing them to part with revenue windfall upon windfall is not going to be easy. Like crazed junkies, they've become insatiably addicted to our tax overpayments.

Unmet needs, deferred needs, any and every kind of need you can create -- except for the needs of the taxpayers who bear their burden and pay their bills. Oh sure, this week they tossed us taxpayers a bone in Finneran's minuscule tax break. With it they hope to keep us in our gratitude from nipping at their heels.

But still they clutch our tax overpayments and proclaim how badly they need it more than we, warning how even a $20 billion budget isn't enough.

"MINE, MINE!" they lustfully cry. More Is Never Enough!

They've got it, they're determined to keep taking more, and they'll do anything to keep us from our hard-earned money and our hard-earned money from us.

Chip Ford --

The Boston Herald
Thursday, April 29, 1999

A Boston Herald Editorial
The Beacon Hill mindset

You know a guy's been around Beacon Hill too long when he says things like lower auto registration and license fees "loses us [emphasis ours] $100 million a year."

Clearly House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Haley (D-Weymouth) has lost touch. He meant, of course, that's $100 million lawmakers no longer have available to spend because it's now safely back in the pockets of their constituents. It was a telling moment as Haley explained the House version of the state budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

In fact, there is much in Haley's budget that turns logic on its ear.

Haley said he wants to "reduce the pressure on the state's capital budget" -- the money used for long-term building projects -- by spending today's operating cash. Perhaps a case can be made for minor repairs and long overdue maintenance. One might even stretch the case to fund some road repairs (estimated lifespan five years). But the House budget devotes $50 million to road and bridge repairs and another $50 million for new school construction.

Haley insists this is the only way to keep the state's bonded indebtedness within an agreed upon cap. It's also an effective way to spend down what would otherwise be surplus revenues that should be returned to taxpayers.

On another issue Haley's goals are admirable, but his method questionable.

For example, the House budget allocates $14 million as a downpayment to get the MBTA on a current budget cycle like every other state agency.

"We must immediately get T spending under control," Haley said, "Right now they do as they please and send taxpayers from Provincetown to Pittsfield the bill."

Good analysis of the problem, but wrong solution.

Haley proposed to dedicate one-fifth of the 5 percent sales tax (that's about $600 million a year) directly to the MBTA in perpetuity. As the revenue stream goes up -- and it is expected to rise by 5 percent or 6 percent a year -- so will the T's share. Is that any way to encourage fiscal responsibility?

Meanwhile every attempt by MBTA managers to control costs by contracting out some services has been stymied by the Legislature. This is the worst kind of hypocrisy. And, Haley warns, the T will likely have to "make an adjustment at the fare box." Perhaps so, but riders shouldn't be asked to pay more for a system that remains all too fat and happy.

Although perhaps that's the only way to alert riders -- and taxpayers -- to the real costs of this bloated system.

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