Well, Aren't WE Special?
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.