Friday, February 27, 2009

As I See It by Representative Paul Frost

Representative Paul Frost had the following piece published in today's Worcester Telegram and Gazette.

On the state level we should be looking at ways to stimulate the economy by allowing people to keep more of their own money.

What President Obama giveth, Gov. Deval Patrick taketh away. This pretty much sums up what I see are mixed messages over the past few weeks from the federal and state sides of government.

On one hand the feds are seeking to stimulate the economy by, in one way, providing tax relief to our citizens in hopes they will use their tax break to spend in the economy. On the other hand, here in Massachusetts our governor is calling for all sorts of tax increases, taking money out of the pockets of taxpayers so they will have less to spend in our state’s economy.

In other words, no matter what you may gain in federal tax relief, Gov. Patrick wants to take it away from you, and then some, for state spending.

Though I certainly have issues with the earmarked spending stimulus the federal government passed, I do support the infrastructure investment and the tax breaks (though too small in my opinion). I find it troubling our governor and others in the state Legislature are calling for higher taxes — most notable of recent days, the gasoline tax. Increasing taxes will only cripple our economy further and make it that much more difficult for our state to rebound when times improve.

Massachusetts will have the highest gas tax in the nation if the governor gets his way. This means businesses and revenues in Connecticut, New Hampshire and Rhode Island can take advantage at our state’s expense. This boom for other states would result from the gas tax increase alone, never mind the other taxes the governor wants to pursue as well.

I know, I know, but what about the tolls? The governor has said if we don’t raise the gas tax then tolls on the Mass Pike will double. This is a false choice that is being given to us. Nineteen cents on the gallon of gas is not needed to stop a toll increase, when in fact only 3 1/2 cents on the gallon would be needed.

And I would further say we can cover for that 3 1/2 cents without raising the gas tax or the tolls at all. There are other choices, ones the Republicans in the House have offered for years, including one plan we offered months ago which could be done without raising taxes or tolls.

The reality is, our citizens cannot afford to pay more in taxes. At the state level we should also be looking at ways to stimulate the economy by allowing people to keep more of their own money and let them and the small businesses of our commonwealth lead us out of this economic downturn and not through state taxes. For the sake of fairness and for our economy the state should not take away the tax breaks our citizens will get from the federal government.

Republican Lawmakers on the Attack, Democrats Forced to Defend Tax Hikes

Republican lawmakers went on the attack yesterday, blasting the tax and spend mentality on Beacon Hill. House and Senate Republicans, disappointed in recent tax increases and in the proposed gas tax and toll hikes, said Governor Patrick and the Democratic-controlled legislature must first explore all reform options.

More than a dozen GOP lawmakers gathered outside the House Chamber for a press conference yesterday, forcing Democrats to defend their continuous efforts to institute new taxes and increase current ones. Below you will find the links to various articles discussing yesterday's press event.

Metro West Daily News

Somerville Journal

Tri Town Transcript

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Tax Burden Crushing Residents and Businesses

Republican lawmakers from both the House and Senate held a press conference this afternoon to express their frustration and disappointment with Governor Patrick’s increased tax burden on residents and businesses.

“I cannot in good faith ask, nor can I justify asking taxpayers to fork over even more of their hard earned dollars to support Governor Patrick’s misplaced priorities,” said Representative Brad Jones. “In the last year alone, the Democrats with much opposition from the Republicans, have passed the largest corporate tax increase in history, raised the cigarette tax and proposed a slew of other revenue increases. Enough is enough. We are tired of this argument being painted as if increasing the gas tax or hike the toll fees are our only solutions. That is a fallacy and one we are here to clarify.”

Representative Jones, Assistant Minority Leader George N. Peterson, Jr., Representative Vinny deMacedo were joined by their Republican colleagues at the podium. Along with elected officials, Peter Christie of the Massachusetts Restaurant Association and gas station owner Arthur Pappas were there explaining to the press exactly why their industries can no longer afford to stay afloat.

For example, Governor Patrick has proposes a sales tax on candy, soda and alcohol for which he hopes will generate $25 million for the current fiscal year and as much as $150 million for next fiscal year. Especially for those of us who represent communities within close proximity to other states, all we will see is decreased tax revenues and small businesses closing.
With so many companies and retail operations struggling, raising retail taxes to cover any shortfalls is the last thing we should be thinking about. The only ones making out are the businesses in surrounding states.

“It is time to roll up our sleeves and make the hard choices. Increasing taxes is easy, it is a quick fix, but no longer can our residents and small business owners afford quick fixes. They long for and deserve long term solutions and our caucus is offering sound alternatives and we hope our counterparts in the House will start considering them,” added Representative Jones.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Tax and Spend Mentality Must Go, Commonwealth Citizens Can’t Afford another Tax Increase

Republican lawmakers will be holding a media availability Thursday as they push to highlight why the tax and spend mentality on Beacon Hill must go. Governor Patrick’s recent announcement of a proposed 19 cent gas tax increase only adds fuel to the fire as Massachusetts businesses and taxpayers deal with an already enormous tax burden.

Commonwealth citizens are struggling like never before and cannot afford yet another costly and unnecessary tax increase. Republicans in both the House and Senate have proposed a number of reforms that will be outlined in tomorrow’s press conference.

“We will no longer allow Governor Patrick and the Democratic-controlled legislature to paint our state’s issues as an either/or. It is not a gas tax or a toll hike and it certainly isn’t both,” said House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. “Instead, it is our goal to inform citizens that there are options that until now have not been weighed. Tax increases are quick fixes, not long term solutions which is what our residents deserve.”

Along with Republican lawmakers, in attendance will also be representatives from the New England Service Station and Auto Repair Association, the Massachusetts Restaurant Association, the Convenience Store Association, among others. These guests will discuss how continuous increased taxes are negatively affecting their industries.

The press conference will be held tomorrow (Thursday) at 12:00 p.m. outside of the House Chamber on the third floor of the Statehouse.

"What Obama Giveth, Patrick Taketh Away"

Part of President Obama’s stimulus package is a tax break of roughly $13 a week for working men and women, with the idea they will use this extra amount in their paychecks to stimulate the economy. However, here in Massachusetts, Governor Deval Patrick wants to take that national tax break away from working families by increasing state taxes. Patrick is now seeking a 19 cent increase in the state gas tax along with other proposals to raise taxes for things like candy bars, mileage and so on.

The federal government is desperately trying to infuse money into the economy and wants to get the general public spending again. Yet, our Governor is doing the complete opposite and wants to take away that $13 a week national tax break and then some by increasing taxes so he can spend it rather than dealing with the difficult task of bringing about true meaningful reform and limit state spending during these troubling times. Our Governor should be finding ways to make Massachusetts more competitive and affordable to live and do business by not taking money out of our economy. There is a better way, invest in our people and small businesses and let them keep more of their own money and let them lead out us of this downturn.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Republicans Proposing Real Solutions

The Boston Herald editorial page is praising a tax amnesty program being launched by the state next month. The GOP–sponsored tax amnesty plan targeting the state’s tax scofflaws was signed into law by Governor Patrick last month. The plan is just another example of Republicans proposing real solutions to help real people solve real problems.

The amnesty program will run for two months and will encourage delinquent taxpayers to voluntarily pay off their back taxes by waiving penalties as an incentive. The Department of Revenue has estimated that this particular program could generate up to $20 million dollars.

Previous tax amnesties offered in 2002 and 2003 brought in $91.6 million and $174 million respectively.

The Boston Globe also has a piece on the amnesty program today. Click here for more details on the plan.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Minority Whip Calls For Reform First

House Minority Whip Brad Hill is calling on Governor Patrick to tackle the state's transportation crisis with reform first. Today, Governor Patrick announed that part of his transportation package would include a significant hike in the gas tax, making Massachusetts' gas tax the highest in the nation.

Click here to hear what Representative Hill had to say to NECN when asked about the Governor's proposal.

Republicans Disappointed in Administration's Transportation Proposal

The Republican Leadership Office released the following statement today in response to Governor Patrick’s proposed transportation package.

We, the Republican Leadership, are disappointed and dismayed in the decision of Governor Patrick and his administration to tax and spend the Commonwealth out of the fiscal mess it faces today. Equally disappointing is the lack of written legislation which was promised 18 months ago. “It’s difficult to comment on something that still hasn’t been put to paper yet,” said Rep. George N. Peterson, Jr., Assistant Minority Leader. “We’ve been waiting 18 months for a comprehensive transportation plan. Today we were only provided with a presentation.”

While we applaud the Governor on his efforts to streamline bureaucracy in the state’s transportation system, we are frustrated that the new plan includes another revenue proposal. Last month it was about taxing candy, soda and alcohol with a cost of $150 million, and today it’s about increasing the tax on fuel at a cost of $620 million. Last year the Governor and the Legislature passed the largest corporate tax package in the history of the Commonwealth costing $500 million, as well as yet another tax increase on cigarettes costing $175 million. “It seems Governor Patrick’s answer to every fiscal challenge is increased taxes,” said Rep. Vinny M. deMacedo, Ranking Minority Member of the Committee on Ways & Means. “We cannot continue to go into the taxpayers’ pockets for more money when clearly there are significant cost savings that can be made by solely streamlining and reforming our transportation system.”

If Governor Patrick’s plan is adopted, the Commonwealth will have the highest gas tax in the country. Rep. Bradford R. Hill, Minority Whip, stated “The Governor is asking the people of Massachusetts to pay another $33 million for every one cent increase in the gas tax.” In addition to the exorbitant tax hike, we are still going to be stuck with the tolls. We will not in good conscience ask the taxpayers to dig into their wallets once again to pay for the mistakes of their elected officials. Rep. George N. Peterson, Jr., Assistant Minority Leader stated, “Governor Romney pointed out the Turnpike Authority was losing money several years ago, but no one was interested in reform back then. As a result, we’re going to end up paying a lot more now.”

Additionally, we will not allow the Administration to play “big brother” in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Putting chips in drivers’ cars to keep track of their travels is an incredible invasion of privacy and will not be supported by the Republican Caucus.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

"Gas-Guzzler Tax" Coming to a City Near You!

According to an article in today's Boston Globe, "Massachusetts could become the first state with its own Hummer tax under a plan floated by Governor Deval L. Patrick yesterday that would charge higher registration fees for gas-guzzling cars and offer discounts for those that do less harm to the environment."

Enough is enough. We cannot tax and spend our way out of the current fiscal mess. We need to tighten the belts, rein in the out of control spending and reform practices that are detrimental to the future of the Commonwealth and its citizens.

In the last year, Massachusetts has passed the largest corporate tax increase ever, increased taxes on cigarettes as well as proposed new taxes on candy, soda and alcohol. Just last week, Governor Patrick floated the idea of a 27 cent gas tax increase.

While we applaud the Governor for offering incentives to those people who purchase more energy efficient vehicles, we are disappointed that he seeks to penalize those who need bigger vehicles. Small business owners often rely on trucks and sport utility vehicles. Instituting yet another new tax would be one more obstacle to the survival of small business in Massachusetts.

What's next, a tax on breathing?

Telegram & Gazette Calls Rules Debate "Phantom Reform"

During last week's rules debate, Republican Lawmakers in the House proposed more than a dozen amendments that would have provided greater transparency and held each elected official accountable for his or her actions. However, one by one, all amendments with the exception of a couple, were shot down.

The Telegram & Gazette's editorial page saw the proposed rules changes as an opportunity for real reform.

Click here to see why the T&G is calling last week's efforts "Phantom Reform."

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Assistant Minority Leader Says Same Old Story with Governor

Boston, MA – Assistant Minority Leader and Ranking Republican on the Joint Committee on Transportation George N. Peterson, Jr. released the following statement today in reaction to Governor Patrick delaying the announcement of the details of his transportation package.

Governor Deval Patrick is the Commonwealth’s Chief Executive Officer and it is time he took charge. We are in the midst of one of the worst economic disasters since the Great Depression. While yes, I understand allocating funds from the stimulus package is a priority, so too is overhauling the state’s transportation system. Reforming the Commonwealth’s transportation system will minimize wasteful spending, needless bureaucracy and put more money back in taxpayers’ wallets.

We were promised a transportation package by the Patrick Administration more than 18 months ago. Meanwhile, Republican Lawmakers continue to propose innovative ideas that would get the ball rolling on real reform. Those proposals have continually been shot down by the Majority Party despite the need for an overhaul of the transportation system.

Hill Disappointed in Handling of Recession

House Minority Whip Brad Hill recently released this statement in response to the disappointing manner in which the Majority Party in the Commonwealth has handled the current recession.

I am writing to bring to attention to the citizens of the Commonwealth the irresponsible manner in which its state government is responding to this recession. As you may know the Commonwealth’s budget is currently over $2 billion short of revenues that were expected as early as last July 1st. It was said by many financial analysts and think-tanks that the budget passed for fiscal year ’09 was unsustainable. Despite those warnings, the Majority Party’s leadership went ahead and passed a budget that ultimately was out of balance to the tune of $2.4 billion.

It was clear within three months of the budget being signed into law that the Governor needed to take further action to bring the bloated budget into balance as mandated by the Constitution. Therefore, Governor Deval Patrick had to make mid-year cuts totaling $624 million. In addition, amongst other monies found in minor accounts, the Governor had to take $200 million from the state’s stabilization fund, further jeopardizing our bond rating.

Three months later it was clear that the economic storm experienced throughout the country was going to continue to ravage our state budget. Toward that end some other proposals to close an additional $1.1 billion shortfall were proposed by the Governor. These ideas should be troubling to those many citizens who are finding it impossible to make ends meet. Instead of additional cuts to state government, the Governor has instead suggested that we fill the financial gap with increased taxation, increased fees, cuts to local aid, additional raiding of the stabilization fund and taking monies from the anticipated federal stimulus package. At no point was there consideration to cut government spending.

Let me explain in detail some of the proposals that have been sent to the Legislature by the Governor. First, the Governor has cut both the Lottery and additional assistance accounts which go to our cities and towns by a total of $128 million for this current year. Furthermore, the Governor will cut Local Aid by a total of $375 million for next fiscal year, in essence crippling many cities and towns across the Commonwealth who have seen similar drops in their own revenues. Local Aid is the primary area where most people see their tax money come back to them in services they actually use, and should only be cut as a last resort. While these cuts add to the Commonwealth’s bottom line, it won’t add to taxpayers’ bottom line. We will end up paying for the shortfall at the local level and experience devastating cuts in the services we all utilize in our daily lives.

Second, the Governor proposes a host of additional taxes and fees that he hopes will cover a structural deficit that has been created by government spending at an unsustainable rate.

For example, he proposes a sales tax on candy, soda and alcohol for which he hopes will generate $25 million for the current fiscal year and as much as $150 million for next fiscal year. Especially for those of us who represent communities within close proximity to other states, all we will see is decreased tax revenues and small businesses closing. We have already seen this year that tax increases for retail products have been insufficient in covering the budget deficit. With so many companies and retail operations struggling, raising retail taxes to cover any shortfalls is the last thing we should be thinking about. The only ones making out are the businesses in surrounding states.

In addition to these proposed taxes, the Governor wants to increase Registry of Motor Vehicle fees. If past history is any indication, these increased taxes and fees won’t go away in better times. State government will get used to it and find ways to spend it.

As we all know, many individuals are struggling due to high costs, unemployment, reduced incomes and decimated values in investment savings. This is no time to nickel-and-dime our citizens. Rather, these economic times call for across-the-board reform and waste cutting as the first course of action in balancing the budget.

As you may have heard in recent news media reports, our pension system is in dire need of reform. State employees take pensions for their three-highest earning years rather than their total average salary. Outrageously, they only have to put in one working day to qualify as a year of service! This system needs to be reformed now.

Can you imagine that we have two separate highway agencies within our border? We need to initiate transportation reform and merge the two systems in a way that stops the duplication of costs and services.

I continue to have a problem spending over $3 million to pay public employees to go out and volunteer at non-profit entities. Yet we do. Don’t get me wrong, I deeply believe in the charity of volunteer work, but for most people outside the state bureaucracy, volunteering doesn’t come with a paycheck. Why the dictionary definition of volunteering doesn’t apply to state employees is beyond me, and a sign that your state government is not serious about tightening its belt.

We knew that lean times were coming, yet that didn’t stop Governor Patrick from increasing the State’s workforce by over 2000 people, with additional hires being proposed in his FY ’10 budget. This is just the beginning of a list of governmental growth that we cannot simply sustain.

Let me be clear. We cannot tax and spend ourselves out of a recession. Government will just continue to exacerbate the problem. State government needs to realize that when it uses the term “revenues”, it is your earnings they are talking about, not theirs. State revenues are money coming out of your pocket, out of your hard work. When there is a decrease in expected revenues, it means people are having trouble paying their bills.

The budget shortfall is due to two reasons 1) taxpayers are hurting and 2) state government is bloated. So it is astounding that instead of using this economic crisis as an opportunity to reform government, the Majority Party will continue to feed state government’s appetite for growth while simultaneously increasing the burden on taxpayers’ shoulders. They will try to sell this irrational behavior as “sharing the pain” (and keep in mind that many of these politicians accepted pay raises). This arrogance of governmental power should be unacceptable to all the taxpayers of Massachusetts.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

GOP Lawmakers Lead the Fight For Ethics Reform

Last week, House Republicans held a press conference to express their disappointment with House Democrats. During last week's rules debate, the Majority Party shot down several attempts by the GOP to provide more transparency within State Government and on Beacon Hill.

The Worcester Telegram & Gazette's John Monahan attended that press conference and has a great piece on the GOP's Ethics Agenda in today's paper.

Click here to read the T & G article.

Representatives Appointed to House Ways and Means Committee

Several Republican Representatives were recently appointed to the House Ways and Means Committee. The Ways and Means Committee is considered to be the most powerful in the Legislature and is responsible for considering all legislation affecting the finances of the Commonwealth.

Representative Vinny deMacedo is the Ranking Member on the House Ways and Means, while Representative Robert Hargraves will serve as the Assistant Ranking Member. Also serving on the House Ways and Means Committee this year are Representatives Jeffrey Perry, Karyn Polito, Todd Smola and Daniel Webster.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Frost: Lessons of Lincoln

In the following piece, Representative Paul Frost discusses lessons learned from the presidency of Abe Lincoln.

On Thursday, February 12, America celebrated the 200th Birthday of President Abraham Lincoln. I was pleased to attend a Joint Session of the State Legislature which honored President Lincoln and all his accomplishments. At this wonderful event, I couldn’t help but reflect on the troubling days and years ahead of us as a nation and ponder the lessons of Lincoln.

Our 16th President of the United States served at a time when Americans were the most divided. In 1861, within weeks of Lincoln being sworn into his first term of his presidency Americans were at war, not with another country but with each other.

Abraham Lincoln made sure our union would not be divided and set the course for all to be free despite the color of their skin. Not everything went perfect in his first term when it came to the war effort. The first person he asked to command the Union Army turned him down and eventually became the commanding general of the Confederacy. Then, several commanding generals had to be replaced due to ineffectiveness. At one time Washington, D.C. itself almost came under attack by the Confederate Army as they pushed north.

Americans were fighting Americans while other Americans were held in slavery. It was a conflict which was brewing from the day the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776. Our forefathers chose not to deal with the issue of slavery as they believed all men were created equal and should be free. The hard feelings and racism of the era lasted long after the Civil War had ended. Regardless of the difficulty and the loss of many lives, Lincoln did not give up on doing what was right for the Union in this time of strife and uncertainty.

In the end, President Lincoln won the war, freed the slaves and kept America united and strong. Sadly his presidency did not continue into the reconstruction period of a post war America as his life was taken at the start of his second term of office by an assassin.

President Lincoln was a fighter. His life was a series of ups and downs, successes and failures. He had run for office and lost many times but never gave up and ultimately found a way to win. Lincoln spoke his mind and stood strong for what he believed was right. His speeches inspired people and he took a newly formed political party to the highest office in the land by becoming the first ever Republican President.

Today, our nation faces extremely tough, difficult and uncertain times as we watch our economy fail. Some economists say America is in deep trouble and some European economic think tank predicts the United States will fall apart and divide up within a decade. All elected officials and citizens alike, must learn from our 16th President. We must do and sacrifice what we can to keep our country together and strong. If we do, the United States will continue to shine as a beacon of peace and prosperity in this world. It would be more appropriate to use Lincoln’s own words about the fate of our country during the horrific times of the Civil War in his Gettysburg Address, “And that government of people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from this earth.” We are all responsible to keep Lincoln’s profound words and lessons alive today.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Representatives Inform Public of RMV Changes

Representatives Jay Barrows, Elizabeth Poirier and Richard Ross had the following Letter to the Editor recently published in the Sun Chronicle.

In our capacities as State Representatives, we have always tried to keep our constituencies well-informed in regard to any governmental changes that may affect your everyday life. Recently, the Registry of Motor Vehicles made a major change in regard to notifying its customers about some of its major services, mainly license renewal. Due to the $2M that was cut by Governor Patrick in the Registry’s budget, Registrar Rachel Kaprielian has announced that the Registry will eliminate courtesy notices that are sent to customers for the following services:

· License and Mass ID Renewal Notices;
· Vehicle Inspection reminder letters for vehicles that are overdue for inspection;
· Inspector license renewal notices
· 7D license renewal notices;
· Driver’s Education Certificates;
· Junior Operator Brochures for Parents;
· Change of Address Labels.

As noted in a “Message from Registrar Kaprielian on RMV Budget Cuts”, “Like many businesses across the Commonwealth, the RMV is working to squeeze every penny of savings from our budget in the wake of a drastic downturn in the state’s economy.

To weather this financial storm, the RMV is adopting operational changes that, we believe, will minimize the impact on customer service in our branches.”

This letter is written out of concern for the many senior citizens we represent for fear that they will not know that these changes have been made. According to Chief Kenneth Walsh of the Wenham Police Department, if you are stopped and your license has expired, there could be major consequences. You could be charged with Operating Without a License, which is considered to be a criminal offense under Chapter 90, Section 10. Your car could be towed and impounded, all at your expense. Additionally, if brought to court, you could be fined between $100 and $1000.

Ultimately, it is now the sole responsibility of every license holder to look at their license on their birthday and check to see if their license is due to expire. The RMV is encouraging all customers to go to the website where you will find it easy to renew on-line

We also would like to bring to your attention that on November 3rd, the RMV delayed the opening hours of most branches by one-half hour from 8:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. Hours of operation also changed at the 18 branches that have extended hours to 7:00 p.m. on Thursday. These branches will now be open from 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. Again, please check the website before going to the branches to make sure that they are open.

This is just the beginning of many major changes that will be coming in the near future. With revenues coming in around $1 Billion below expectations, it is very likely that additional cuts will be made to state government.

In closing, should you have any questions regarding the aforementioned changes or you have any questions regarding cuts to any state agency, please do not hesitate to contact us at (617) 722-2000.

Republican Lawmakers Question Governor's Appointment

The Commonwealth has yet to see a dime from the Federal Stimulus plan and already Governor Patrick has hired a $150,000 a year "stimulus-spending czar." Along with that, the Patrick Administration has committed $400,000 of taxpayer money to an accounting firm to oversee how the money is allocated.

Both the Boston Herald and Boston Globe have interesting articles on this appointment. In fact, the hiring of Jeffrey Simon is another example of why the state's pension system needs a complete transformation.

It is crazy that two former state employees such as Simon and recently appointed Transportation Secretary James Aloisi have benefited from such lucrative taxpayer funded pensions. Worse yet, both stand to see a substantial increase in their annual pension as a result of the high paying positions they were both recently appointed to by the Patrick Administration.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Republicans Fight to Repeal Corporate Tax Increase

House and Senate Republicans are rallying around efforts by Senate Minority Leader Richard R. Tisei and House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. to preserve Massachusetts jobs by repealing the $500 million corporate tax increase that took effect on January 1.

Twenty Republicans are co-sponsoring legislation filed last month by the two GOP leaders to repeal the tax increase and eliminate some of its more onerous provisions, including the new unitary combined reporting requirement. These tax changes impact many multi-state companies that are based outside of Massachusetts but employ nearly 40 percent of the state’s workforce.

At least one major business group, the Organization for International Investment (OFII), has already advised its member companies to “suspend consideration of new investments and expansions in Massachusetts” because of the recent tax law changes. OFII represents over 150 U.S. subsidiaries of foreign-based companies, and its member companies currently employ over 173,000 people in Massachusetts, or nearly 6 percent of the Commonwealth’s private sector workforce.

“This should be a wake-up call to the Legislature,” said Senator Tisei. “You can be sure that other businesses are going to follow OFII’s lead and curb their plans for expansion in Massachusetts while taking their jobs to states that offer a more favorable business climate. The timing couldn’t be worse, because losing these jobs will cripple our state’s economy and prevent us from making a strong recovery once the recession ends.”

“If companies are dissuaded from coming here, they will flock to other states that are considerably more tax friendly to businesses in order to lay down roots and create jobs,” said Representative Jones. “We need job creation now more than ever, and with the passing of one law, companies are saying goodbye to the Commonwealth. Not only was the passing of this law a bad decision, but a kiss of death for potential economic growth in Massachusetts.”
In 2007, while serving on a special commission that reviewed the state’s corporate tax laws, Tisei and Jones advocated the adoption of a more streamlined corporate tax structure to help promote jobs creation and business expansion. Neither lawmaker supported the commission’s final recommendations, but instead led a unified and unanimous show of Republican opposition against the resulting bill, which implemented what is believed to be the largest business tax increase ever passed in the Commonwealth.

Tisei and Jones expressed disappointment that not a single Democrat agreed to sign on to the repeal bill. However, they expressed confidence that their proposal will begin to win converts as the economy worsens and the state’s jobless rate increases.

“We should be doing everything we can to convince employers that Massachusetts remains a good place to do business, and what better way to do that than to repeal the combined reporting law and eliminate the half a billion dollar tax burden that is now impacting our business community?” noted Tisei and Jones.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

House Republicans to Hold Media Availability

Republican lawmakers will be holding a media availability Thursday to voice their disappointment with the House Majority as the Democratic-controlled Legislature once again demonstrates it is content with the status quo.

With a dark cloud hovering over Beacon Hill, and the public’s lack of trust in its elected officials, we believe it to be imperative that the culture of corruption come to a grinding halt. Far too many ethical improprieties have violated the Legislature’s standing and have jeopardized our ability to lead.

Tomorrow, we will be discussing the amendments we put forward in the rules debate and articulate to you and to the public why these rules changes are necessary to regain the public’s trust. Additionally, a letter being sent out to every member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives will be distributed to members of the press.

The press conference will be held tomorrow (Thursday) at 12:15 p.m. outside Room 124 on the first floor of the Statehouse.

GOP House Leader Blasts Gas Tax Hike Talk

House Minority Leader Brad Jones continues to blast the Governor's consideration of a 27 cent gas tax hike as toll-payers and taxpayers struggle to make ends meet. The GOP Leader appeared on several Boston newscasts last night where he said he was shocked and appalled that Governor Patrick would try to reach into the pockets of Massachusetts taxpayers once again.

To see his appearance on Fox 25, click here.
For his NECN interview, click here.

To see what he had to say to Channel 5's Janet Wu, click here.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Jones: Gas Tax No Substitute For Reform

House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. released the following statement today as Governor Deval Patrick mulls a 27 cent gas tax hike.

Like many lawmakers and hard-working citizens across the state, I am shocked and appalled to learn that Governor Patrick is once again considering diving into the pockets and purses of Massachusetts taxpayers. Three years ago when Governor Patrick was Candidate Patrick, he adamantly opposed the idea of an increased gas tax. In fact, he campaigned on the platform of tax relief. Today, caving under political pressures and in the absence of any real reform, Governor Patrick is now considering asking the taxpayers to fork over an additional 27 cents every time they buy a gallon of gas.

To make the situation worse, Governor Patrick is also considering legislation that would allow the state to track and charge all Massachusetts drivers based on the miles they travel. This “big brother” program should scare everyone to death as the possibilities are mind-boggling. That program would be enforced through a chip that would be installed in a car when the vehicle is inspected.

I, along with the Republican Caucus, have called on Governor Patrick to show real leadership, to grab onto the idea of reform and run with it. In fact, we have been waiting for nearly 18 months for a plan. Governor Patrick, however, has chosen a quick fix instead of what is really needed, a long term solution. We will not support this measure or any other like it until all options are examined. The out of control spending, the misplaced priorities and the constant misuse of taxpayer money needs to come to a grinding halt as the taxpayers in the Commonwealth cannot afford to waste one more penny on a mismanaged agency or program.

Monday, February 9, 2009

What, No Property Tax Relief?

It was revealed today by the Boston Herald that Governor Patrick is mulling a 27 cent per gallon gasoline tax increase, an idea that candidate Deval Patrick back in 2006 adamantly opposed. Candidate Patrick also promised property tax relief. In fact, his whole campaign platform was geared toward that very concept, that residents of Massachusetts under his administration would see tax relief.

Does Governor Patrick really believe, with gas prices on the rise as we noted earlier, that raising the gas tax is actually a good idea? Or, is he succumbing to political pressure? Several well-known economists believe we will eventually pay $4.00 a gallon once again in the future. It seems the Governor is using the current prices as an excuse to once again stick it to Massachusetts taxpayers.

We have said it before and will continue to say it. We cannot reach into the taxpayers pocket or purse again until we explore every other option. We need real reform, not a quick fix, but a long term solution to the challenges the Commonwealth faces.

GOP Representatives Talk Policy with Experts

Several members of the GOP Caucus and their staff attended Capital Campus Massachusetts today, a seminar that brought policy experts to Boston to talk about the issues facing the state in the upcoming year.

The seminar was broken up into four sessions, focusing on the following issues: The Economics of Health Care Reform in Massachusetts, Improving Outcomes in Education, Eminent Domain and Budget Woes. As Legislators, we are constantly looking for ways to improve the lives of residents here in Massachusetts. Through educational forums such as this one, we are able to hear what other states are doing to tackle similar challenges.

Representatives who attended today’s forum can be seen in the above picture and include: Jay Barrows, Vinny deMacedo, Paul Frost, Susan Gifford, Robert Hargraves, Brad Jones, George Peterson, Elizabeth Poirier and Richard Ross. Also seen in the picture are David Tuerck of the Beacon Hill Institute and James Musser, Director of State Outreach for the Mercatus Center.
The event was sponsored by the Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University and the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

Gas Prices on the Rise, Talk of Gas Tax Hike Ramping Up

Gas prices are on the move again here in the Commonwealth, and the direction is up.
According to the latest AAA Southern New England survey, the average price of gasoline rose again this past week, for the fifth consecutive week. A gallon of regular will now set you back about $1.90 in Massachusetts.

And while the Commonwealth stands just below the national average, that is no excuse to justify the increase of the gas tax. Instead of the state reaching into the pockets of taxpayers yet again, how about instituting some real reform first.

Why is it, raise the gas tax or hike the tolls? The Democrats try to paint it as an either/or situation but we in the GOP Caucus believe there are other solutions. We should instead take a hard deep look at what we’re spending taxpayer money on and find the areas where we can cut and become more efficient. Taxpayers can’t afford to give up another penny of their hard earned cash as they are already struggling to heat their homes and put food on the table.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Hargraves' View From the Hill

It's been an interesting few weeks on Beacon Hill. There's also been quite a bit of drama in my district as well, so it's difficult to know where to start.

The public hearings looking into Unitil's response -- or lack of response -- following the ice storm that devastated the area in December have been packed with dissatisfied customers, and I was happy to see that. Petitions have been filed with the governor's office and I have signed onto legislation that will give ratepayers more leverage when it comes to determining, or in some cases firing, their utility providers. I am certain that electricity will be restored to the 700,000 citizens who lost power in Kentucky last week more rapidly than was the case with too many of my own constituents who went without power for three weeks and more!

I, myself, find this inexcusable, and a lot of my time has been devoted to working to make sure this doesn't happen in my constituency again. By the way, I have met with representatives from FEMA, and they have assured me that they will be coming through the towns in my district that were most severely impacted by the storm.

On the state level, the projected revenue shortfalls keep getting more and more dire. I am sorry to report that rather than roll up their sleeves and take on the onerous responsibility of cutting into their local aid packages for '09, my Democratic colleagues in the Legislature voted to pass the knife to the governor, who now has the responsibility of carving $1.2 billion from the budget. I feel like this was a mistake, an abdication of the responsibility our voters placed squarely on our shoulders when they went to the polls in November and cast their ballots -- and I'm not afraid to say so.

At the state level, there is nothing simple about "the budget." Two documents, weighing a total of 4 pounds, 5.3 ounces, landed on my desk last Wednesday, and before the "thump" had finished echoing off the walls, the pundits in the press were talking about it as if they had fully digested the meat and bones of the beast. From what I've read and heard, I don't think they have it quite right, so don't believe everything you read or hear. Incidentally, we are addressing two budgets at once. The so-called 9C cuts are being trimmed from the '09 budget while concurrently we are working to put together the spending package for 2010.

The full picture is further clouded by the president's much-awaited stimulus package, the precise details of which are as-of-yet unknown. My colleagues and I will be taking our time to analyze and understand the implications of the governor's 2010 budget as well as the 9C spending cuts to retrofit the 2009 budget to try to reconcile it with the current reality of the economy. This is going to be a work in progress for a while, so I expect to be writing more about this in the upcoming weeks.

By the way, the full report: "Preliminary Analysis: The Governor's FY 2010 Budget & New FY 2009 9C Cuts," can be found at

The "cherry sheets" have been delivered to Ayer, Dunstable, Groton, Pepperell and Townsend. Suffice it to say that it was painful to see the bottom lines. I feel like I'm just a member of the choir when I tell you that the challenges we face are unprecedented in my lifetime. However, I am optimistic that it's all going to work out. It's inspiring to see how everyone -- from individuals, to organizations, to institutions, to government officials -- are scrambling to come up with creative, workable solutions. When we dig ourselves out of the mess we're in, I have a feeling the world is going to be a better place for our efforts.

There is also a proposal before us to increase the tax on gasoline. I believe such a tax at a time like this is ill-advised. It would be like taking food out of a baby's mouth, and I plan to be speaking against it from the floor in the coming weeks.

On Beacon Hill, Speaker of the House Salvatore DiMasi tendered his formal resignation on Tuesday, and Rep. Robert DeLeo was elected as the new Speaker of the House on Wednesday.
I think it's incredible that the system is able to take these momentous events in stride. Yes, there was a lot of ink spilled, a lot of air time filled, a lot of speculation and drama involved. But there was no bloodshed. And at the end of the day on Wednesday, a conservative Democrat found himself at the helm with a gavel in hand, waiting to leave his imprint in the sand.

The new speaker is a staunch supporter of special education, physical education and has supported legislation that would allow casinos and slot machines as well. The Speaker of the House wields a lot of power and influence, and I expect that he will use his influence to take the House in a new direction. So stay tuned!

There are changes in my office as well. For the past 18 months or so, Jeff Wilson has served as my aide. At Christmas time, he told me he had a job offer and was going to be leaving for greener pastures. I was sad to see Jeff go. He has served me ably and well. But I was happy to hear that he had such a great opportunity, and encouraged him to take advantage of it.

I'm now happy to report that I have a new aide, Jane Morriss. Jane moved to Groton in 1991 and I first met her back when I was the chairman of the Board of Selectmen in Groton and she was covering town events for the Groton Herald. She also covered Groton for Nashoba Publications and worked as a writer at Groton School during its capital campaign in the 1990s. After that she went into real estate and most recently she was working over in Chelmsford as a concierge. She is taking to the position like a duck takes to water, and I'm confident that within a short period of time she will become a familiar presence in my district.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Jones Concludes Three Part Interview

House Minority Leader Brad Jones recently concluded an interview with Red Mass Group. The interview was broken up into three parts. Jones answered a series of questions based on three topics: State House politics, State House policy and Republican activism.

Click here to read what Representative Jones had to say.

Jones to Appear on AM 1110 Today

House Minority Leader Brad Jones will be appearing on AM 1110 today just after noon. Jones will spend at least 30 minutes on air with Nancy Greenwood. Be sure to tune in as Jones discusses this year's legislative agenda along with other hot topics of the day.

Click here to listen.

Evangelidis Blasts Expanded Bottle Bill

Representative Lewis Evangelidis recently submitted the following Letter to the Editor to local papers in his district.

Dear Editor:

The folks in Central Massachusetts should watch our wallets, the Boston political crowd is coming after us again.

To pay for the spiraling cost of the Big Dig, something which most of us never use (and many of us have never seen), we are heading for a huge hike in the gas tax for everyone in Massachusetts. The prevailing attitude in Boston is to make everyone pay for their political boondoggles.

Another attempt to pick your pocket was on display was in Governor Patrick’s budget proposal this week. The Governor is proposing a dramatic expansion of the bottle bill yet he is not even pretending that it is being done to benefit the environment. He has simply estimated that this will raise an additional $20 million in unclaimed deposit refunds. Conveniently it is the Commonwealth who gets to keep those unclaimed funds. The real insult is where this estimated $20 million is going. $10 million is being earmarked directly for the people in the Boston area to have their water and sewer bills reduced.

I’m not even going to talk about the Governor’s proposals to increase the meals tax, room occupancy tax, alcohol taxes, and candy tax before we have addressed the issue of long overdue reforms to our pension and transportation systems on Beacon Hill.

So when you’re filling up your tank or tossing you returnables into the recycling bin I hope you think about how much the people in Boston appreciate your generosity. Just don’t expect any thank you notes.

Lew Evangelidis
State Representative
1st District of Worcester

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Is He Staying or Going?

We all know President Barack Obama and Governor Deval Patrick are longtime friends, but what we don’t know is whether or not the Governor is going to eventually take a position within the president’s administration. There are new rumors swirling around the State House today that Governor Patrick is on the short list to replace Tom Daschle as the health and human services secretary. Of course, while that rumor is going around, the Governor is in California trying to persuade businesses to come to the Bay State.

So, what’s the deal is he staying or is he going? Because, if he is staying we need him here focusing on the real task at hand, which is getting Massachusetts’ economy moving again.

Now, more than ever, Massachusetts deserves a Governor that is focused on Massachusetts.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Business Taxes Go Up, Business Confidence Goes Down

According to an article in State House News, “the confidence index of the state’s largest business trade group ticked up slightly in January from its all time low, but continues to reflect the severe recession.”

Ticked up slightly isn’t exactly reassuring to the thousands of Massachusetts residents getting in the unemployment lines daily and for the small business being forced to lay off workers regularly.

We need to see real reform and we need to see it sooner rather than later. No longer can we be the state known as unfriendly to business. We need to encourage, through various incentives, businesses to come to the Commonwealth. And while the Governor is out in California trying to get businesses to flock east, he is simultaneously discouraging them from coming here through policies he put in place.

Below is a chart showing where the Bay State falls as far as business confidence, and you can see by the drastic downturn, that 2008 was not a good year and 2009 is expected to follow in its footsteps.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Perry: Property Rights in Danger

The new legislative session has begun on Beacon Hill. It is expected that some 6,000 proposals will be filed this session, many of which are designed to expand the role of government. Regular readers of this column know that I am deeply concerned with the ever expanding size and scope of government. While most of the expansion of government’s power comes from legislative and executive branches, with increasing frequency, we need to be concerned about the judicial branch of government as well.

In what can only be described as one of the most significant reductions to property rights in America, in the case Kelo vs. New London, the United States Supreme Court ruled for the first time that taking private property by right of eminent domain for the purpose of economic development satisfies the "public use" requirement of the Fifth Amendment to the Federal Constitution. As a refresher for those who have not read the Bill of Rights recently, the 5th Amendment Takings Clause states, “…nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” Respect for private property rights is a founding principle of our nation and serves an important role in our modern political economy.

It is my strong belief that the policy set forth in the Court's majority opinion goes against the intent of our Founding Fathers and our Constitutional history. Up until this decision, private property rights have been held to the highest esteem and we as a society have made sure eminent domain takings are limited to situations where there is clear necessity to seize property in the name of the public good, such as new public hospitals, schools and transportation improvements. This decision is a direct assault on the rights of all Americans and a significant step against freedom to own property.

As pointed out in the dissenting opinion, the Court abandoned the long-held, basic limitation on government power. Under the banner of economic development, all private property is now vulnerable to being taken and transferred to another private owner, so long as it might be economically upgraded. This decision and general mindset of the liberals of the Supreme Court should greatly disturb every American.

In an effort to protect our citizens from abusive governmental takings and to make sure the Supreme Court's ruling does not adversely impact our laws here in Massachusetts, it is necessary to expand the existing protections offered by our laws at the state level.
We must lead the charge to ensure the citizens of Massachusetts are not subject to an overactive Court with a liberal agenda, which increasingly seems to have a desire to be in the legislative business. All courts owe the principal of separation of powers deference to a legislature’s judgment concerning the public policy of whether the government owns, or the public has a legal right to use, the taken property.

In this next session, Republicans will support proactive changes to the statutory components and amend Chapters 121A, 121B, and 121C of the Massachusetts General Laws. This would clearly state that the taking of property for the sole purpose of economic development, except under a few very limited circumstances, shall not be permitted in the Commonwealth. For maximum protection for property owners and tax payers, a Constitutional Amendment to the first paragraph of Article X to the Massachusetts Constitution is needed. I have cosponsored language for such an amendment, which would mirror the statutory changes and make permanently enshrined in our State Constitution the protections Americans already thought were provided by the Bill of Rights. Each and every elected official in office on the state or federal level should be talking about our efforts to protect private property rights. This is not solely a Republican or a conservative issue. This decision strikes at the core of American founding freedoms as we know them. The potential abuses of ever growing governmental power must be trimmed back as they continue to step over into our freedoms.