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Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Well, Aren't WE Special?

What Happens to a Dream Deferred? Does it Dry Up Like a Raisin in the Sun? .....Or Does It EXPLODE?
Langston Hughes (1902–1967),

Porcupine is grateful to be writing this on April 18th. You see, Porcupine actually pays taxes, and our almost unique status gives us one more day before the butcher’s bill falls due. The only other state to celebrate Patriot’s Day is the State of Maine. Between April 15 falling on a Saturday and the Monday Patriot’s Day holiday, residents of Massachusetts and Maine have until midnight tonight to file taxes.

As always, Tax Day brings to mind the disregarded will of the electorate to lower the Mass. Tax rate to 5%. In 1989, Dukakis pleaded for a ‘temporary’ hike to 5.95%. All through the boom years of the 1990’s, the Legislature refused to lower the tax rate, as Governor after Governor filed legislation to do so. In fact, once in the late 1990’s as Governor Cellucci testified for his petition o the matter, then-Chair of the Taxation committee, Rep. Paul Casey, asked why Gov. Cellucci referred to it as ‘temporary’. Nothing in the Legislation said it was! A long term Democrat member of the Committee shamefacedly said that he had been present when Dukakis testified, and he did refer to it as a temporary, emergency measure. His attempt to re-write history precluded, Rep. Casey still muttered that there was no sunset in the bill.

All through the 1990’s, the Legislature could easily have afforded to keep their word and lower the rate. Tax receipts from dot-coms were at historic highs, the Rainy Day and Unemployment funds were bursting, and there was no place to hide the money. Ah, but the League of Red-Headed Men, or the Indigent Mothers of Five-Toed Cats came, and begged for funding for their most worthy causes. So, the Legislature rolled merrily along, taxing at 5.95% and spending like a clipper hand in port for the week.

In 2000, fed up with the solons, the electorate utilized their right of Free Petition, and Question 4 was overwhelmingly approved. STILL they fiddled and used every form of casuistry (Porcupine wonders – what would have happened to Prop. 2 ½ if it had been brought forth in the days of a single party Legislature? What would property taxes look like now?). Then, after 9/11, the economy went lemming-like over a cliff and real cuts had to be made, not only to the Red Headed Men but to those in genuine need.

Had the Legislature kept its word in, say, 1996 and reduced the tax rate – then the citizenry would have understood, and perhaps would have OK’d a another temporary increase. As it is, they do not and will not trust the Legislature to keep its word, and they mulishly want the rate reduced to 5%, as they voted 6 years ago.

Local Aid? Schools? Social Services? Those who natter about them have the option of paying at the 5.95% rate – and out of the millions who pay, they have yet to break 500 souls paying the optional higher rate. In our neck of the woods, we receive scant local aid, lottery money or school aid – so it behooves us to keep our own money close, in order to pay our own property taxes when the time comes.

An example? Carl Stevens of WBZ reported this morning that doctors at the Codman Sq. health clinic were upset that they had to ask the homeless for birth certificates to try to enroll them in MassHealth. It embarrasses them! Besides, it costs $30,000 to perform an amputation of a foot due to diabetes, as opposed to the meager cost of the medication – so these good doctors will continue to dispense medicines without asking for birth certificates. Take that, sirrah! Of course, asking them where they were born, and obtaining a duplicate on their behalf for $7 never even occurred to them. And who will subsidize this high-minded and compassionate stance on behalf of the homeless of Boston? Why, you will through your Public Health tax dollars!

A dollar sent to Boston is a dollar lost to Cape Cod forever.


Anonymous Sachem Head said...

In our neck of the woods, we receive scant local aid, lottery money or school aid – so it behooves us to keep our own money close, in order to pay our own property taxes when the time comes.

We're certainly familiar with that out here in Western Massachusetts, too. But I think the idea of self-sufficiency for towns is a dangerous myth. We need better cooperation from the state, certainly. The state should re-prioritize local aid and help the local property tax payer and the cities and towns, where local services are provided that people can touch and feel: roads and schools and cops and firefighters.

Your argument from history is probably the strongest one I've heard on the tax rollback, but I still don't buy it. I'd rather see income taxe rates hold and the state make an effort to help reduce the pressure on local property taxes.

3:13 PM  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

The vast majority of taxpayers' money is shamefully squandered.

"The power to tax is the power to rule." I'm feeling downright oppressed. My tax bill this year was outrageous. I guess that I need to find some tax shelters. But how can I afford them?

8:43 PM  
Blogger Peter Porcupine said...

Sachem - Courtesy of my friends at Blue Mass Group, here's a link to a pie chart showing how state revenues are apportioned -


Take a look at the ocal aid slice. Remember, the health care and social service slices are entitlements - if the glove does fit, you must acquit, as it were - so cutting them is difficult. Now ask yourslef - how much of that slender slice will be allowed to trickle outside of 128?

We need to keep our money in our own pockets.

10:20 PM  
Anonymous Sachem Head said...

I admit, the cost of health care is a major problem and needs to be addressed. The compromise health care reform doesn't tackle costs, so it's not the whole solution. And I think you're right to point out that the state hasn't been paying its fair share to local aid. That's because local aid is the largest percentage of discretionary spending in the state budget. Rolling back taxes won't solve health care, but it will cause more cuts to aid to cities and towns.

9:57 AM  
Blogger web_loafer said...

Hey big porcupine,

Reading your blog is enjoyable, you have a grasp of the real, and a disdain for the phoney.

And too think, the worlds greatest tax rebellion happened on the wharfs of Boston, when some patriots* did what we only wish we had the courage to do.

*although there are no patriots living in the marxist state of Mass. today, the great great great great grandchildren of those brave men and women are living in Red States in America, and are sucking it in, and getting ready for the fight.

Name me one islamist army, or communist army that has ever won a battle on a battle field?

Ain't no such event ever happened.

Islam battles in pizza parlors, on highways and in mosques. Yes the dogs of islam hit America once, but as long as we have real MEN and real WOMEN at the helm of the Good Ship America, 9/11 was the last time the islamagoobers got a good punch in. It won't happen again, and you can quote me on that.

Thanks to Donald Rumsfeld, Karl Rove and George Walker Bush.

Fight 'em over there...

Can you imagine how mad every American would be if the war was going on here.
It is a real war, but thank you George W, for taking to them, not acting like the emasculated traitor that wanted to be president. That could be either Gore or Kerry.

2:56 AM  

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