CITIZENS FOR LIMITED TAXATION
Whenever a taxpayer wants to keep some of his own money instead of handing it over to government to spend as it sees fit, he or she is asked “Where would you cut?” — as if we taxpayers must surrender it all unless in our spare time while not working to earn it we demonstrate that we can manage the government’s budget better than our “full time” Legislature does. You may have noticed that the government is never concerned about where we taxpayers are going to cut in our own budgets when it takes more of our money.
We do not consider this a valid question and for many years have resisted, on principle, responding to it. Lately we have referred to the analogy created by Boston Globe columnist Scot Lehigh about “the little fir tree that grew” (above), which is the simplest, yet best explanation for insatiable Big Government we’ve found.
As long as it is understood that we dispute our alleged responsibility to tell the government or our opponents where to cut before we can have a tax cut or stop a tax hike, we are happy to provide some ideas.
You will find this growing site chockfull of evident, even obvious, places to cut as we inform readers about waste, inefficiency, mismanagement, patronage, abuse of power and corruption — what at our office we accumulate in state, local and federal “WIMPAC” files.
But for the purpose of consolidation, CLT is providing this “Where would you cut?” section. Here we will reproduce newspaper reports and columns, refer to studies, and otherwise provide obvious answers to that question. They will provide simple, easy solutions that can immediately reduce government's profligate overspending, bloated budgets, and self-imposed “deficits.”
And when told that the total doesn’t add up to a particular tax cut, our response will continue to be: “Get these done, then we’ll give you some more!”
(See footnote below.)
Available savings to date (2005), estimated total:
* estimated savings (below) is not added to the above running total.
** smaller amount is used to compute the above running total.
*** saving obvious but unknown
Click on the dates below for the full reports
|Jun. 16, 2004||
The Massachusetts court system has just hired 130 new court officers to beef up security around the state.... If people think this is a good move, they don't know anything about how the patronage system works in Massachusetts.
|Dec. 21, 2004||
With some court buildings around the state crumbling, the Commonwealth is spending $150 million or more to reconstruct the Old Suffolk County Courthouse, with lavish quarters for the Supreme Judicial Court and Appeals Court, including all new furnishings amid marble, mahogany, and meticulously restored millwork.
|Jan. 4, 2005||
Massachusetts cities and towns often establish bank services agreements without written contracts, leaving them with higher fees and without protections afforded to larger customers, according to the results of a survey conducted by the state inspector general.
|Jan. 14, 2005||
"Why don't they finish that process before they come back to the taxpayers?" said Barbara Anderson, who heads Citizens for Limited Taxation in Marblehead. "Harvard degrees can't figure out the direction the economy's headed, but the Legislature does. They're going to pick the winners and losers in technology. It's hilarious. The only thing you can do is laugh."
|** $100 million-plus|
|Feb. 14, 2005||
Despite years of reform attempts, the study indicates, some courts have as little as 60 percent of the assistant clerks, secretaries, and other support staff they need, while others -- including some of the most politically connected -- are overstaffed by nearly 50 percent.... "It's a major breakthrough," said retired Dorchester District Court Judge James Dolan, who coauthored a 2002 study that indicated that the courts spent more than $50 million on unnecessary patronage hires over a four-year period.
|** $50 million-plus|
|Mar. 14, 2005||
Not only are taxpayers and riders paying the full cost of health insurance for a number of healthy [MBTA] retirees, but we’re likely to continue doing so for a very long time, since many of them are in their 40s. If the T could charge retirees a reasonable 15 percent co-pay, it would save $4.9 million – nearly a third of this year’s budget deficit and about half of next year’s proposed shortfall.... Active MBTA employees don’t have it so bad either. Union workers only pay a 15 percent health insurance co-pay. State (as opposed to authority) employees pay on a sliding scale ranging from 15-25 percent depending on salary level. The 25 percent co-pay that is standard in the private sector would save the T $4.8 million.
|Mar. 25, 2005||
Across the state, an untold number of workers are eligible to use part-time elected offices to sweeten their retirement pensions. The state does not calculate how many people are eligible for such benefits or how much it costs the state, but each year taxpayers cover shortfalls to the retirement system - this year to the tune of $1.2 billion.
|Up to $1.2 billion|
|Mar. 26, 2005||
Governor Mitt Romney and state lawmakers quietly approved a budget amendment last fall that saved a politically connected former state employee from having to pay $250,000 in damages for retaliating against a whistleblower.... In a little-noticed provision included in a supplemental spending bill and mentioning Smith by name, Romney and the overwhelmingly Democratic Legislature provided that the state cover Smith's portion of the damages and his legal expenses, up to $1 million.
|$250,000 - $1million|
|Mar. 26, 2005||
Senate President Robert E. Travaglini recently proposed that Massachusetts spend $100 million to support embryonic stem cell research. This follows his introduction of a bill that explicitly legalizes such research in the Commonwealth. The legalization bill makes perfect sense; it ensures that everyone knows the rules regarding stem cell research. The spending bill, however, is bad policy.
|Mar. 31, 2005||
The state plans to investigate billions worth of school building construction across the state for budgets far beyond the amounts the state originally approved and extravagant spending on routine items.... The state plans to audit more than 600 school projects that have been in line for money since 1989. State officials don't have a dollar amount for the construction projects, but said those audited will be from a list of nearly 1,200 projects in the state worth at least $9.2 billion.... Besides looking at current projects, the authority also wants to scrutinize 728 completed projects, still due $5 billion from the state.
|* $ millions - $billions|
|Apr. 2, 2005||
Back Bay business leaders urged a state commission to keep the Hynes Convention Center open, arguing that the high-end shopping district around the facility could lose millions of dollars if the meeting center were sold.... The Hynes makes about $9.6 million in bookings revenues each year, forcing it to rely on about $6 million in state subsidies.... The authority soaks up about $17 million in state aid to operate the Hynes and the new South Boston facility ...
|** $6 - $17 million|
|Apr. 3, 2005||
It was another short day for [Angelo R. Buonopane, the state's director of the Department of Labor], the highly paid, highly connected appointee of Governor Mitt Romney. Buonopane's work days average two hours and 51 minutes, according to Globe reporters who observed him over a series of days during February and March. On many days he does not come in at all.... But the $108,000-a-year post has no obvious duties. Buonopane seldom comes to work for more than a few hours, and takes frequent vacations -- seven-and-a-half weeks last year, and three-and-a-half weeks in the first three months of this year.
|Apr. 4, 2005||
More than 300 top court managers had their pay boosted by millions of dollars under a job reclassification ... The director of the National Association of Government Employees, in tough contract negotiations with state court managers, charges the ... approach is a classic example of a patronage-heavy management system that looks out for its own.... In all, the hikes will cost about $4.5 million and lead to an average 14.5 percent pay increase over three years for top managers, the court said.... Those numbers don't include possible hikes next year.
|** $4.5 - $5 million|
|May 1, 2005||
But with teachers in at least 50 Greater Boston communities grabbing the benefit since the late 1990s and many of them stitching the extra dollars onto their state-subsidized pensions, the Commonwealth has been left -- to paraphrase a popular song -- trying to catch the deluge in a paper cup.... For fiscal watchdogs, asking state taxpayers to pay for bonuses they were not a party to at the local negotiating table is like sticking Joe Schmoe with a bill for a plasma TV that he didn't order. "Can we all do that -- party A and party B agree that party C will pay for whatever we want?" says Barbara Anderson, executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation.... Both school and union leaders note that the teachers pay into their own retirement fund, so the Retirement Board shouldn't have a squawk. But the Retirement Board says the teachers pension fund is not self-sufficient. Indeed, according to a retirement official, the state this year has contributed $682 million to the teachers fund
Does not apply to the total
but helps explain it
See Mar. 25, 2005
|May 10, 2005||
Beacon Hill Democrats are looking to steer up to $6 million to a new nonprofit organization to boost international tourism in the Bay State, even though Massachusetts already has an official state agency to lure visitors.
|May 13, 2005||
State troopers working traffic details got a $5-an-hour raise last week - the cost of which will filter down to state taxpayers and utility customers.... The price of having a statie watching over a roadside work project jumped from $32 to $37 an hour effective May 1.... Most states allow civilian flaggers to handle traffic directing duties at construction sites, but business-backed efforts to get flaggers here have been beaten back by police unions. The nonprofit think tank Beacon Hill Institute calculates local police details cost state residents $141 million a year in the form of higher utility rates and other expenses, and that doesn't include the cost of state police details.
|** $141-plus million|
|May 23, 2005||
An important, if incremental, reform adopted in the midst of the fiscal crisis increased, on a sliding scale, the contribution state employees make to their health insurance plans. The budget adopted by the House and being considered by the Senate today kills the modest change, costing taxpayers $30 million. Worse, the Legislature's wimp-out sends the signal to every special interest that it's back to business as usual at the State House.... Reform minded lawmakers ought to push for the 75/25 split proposed by the governor for a savings of $75 million or, at a minimum, retain the tiered system.
|May 25, 2005||
Hard core criminals in our state
prisons. You pay for their food, clothing and general medical care. Now,
you may end up paying for their sex change surgery. I-Team reporter Joe
Bergantino investigates what critics are calling a massive waste of
|Jul. 1, 2005||
Five members of an obscure do-nothing
state commission supposedly responsible for overseeing federal homeland
security grants are demanding an unprecedented $7,500-a-year stipend
although they can't point to a single accomplishment, the Herald has
|Jul. 3, 2005||
The average salary for Massachusetts
teachers has been rising faster than the national average, setting off
concerns that local school committees have given in too easily to teacher
unions' demands and squandered limited money on salary increases....
|Oct. 3, 2005||
The Department of Revenue collected
nearly $2 billion from Massachusetts taxpayers in September, setting a new
record and prompting Gov. Mitt Romney to re-issue his call for tax relief.
|Oct. 15, 2005||
With tax revenues soaring again, state
legislators yesterday unveiled a huge spending package that includes 15
percent pay raises for judges and money for pet projects around the state.