Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Budget Season: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

As you know, budget season is upon us and as we dive into the process, we are very quickly finding amendments filled with pet projects, pork and outrageous tax increase proposals. Over the next week or so, we will be highlighting various amendments we disagree with and explain alternative options we have filed. In round one of “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly,” it is Income Tax Hike vs. Employee Furloughs.

The amendment to increase the state’s income tax was filed last week by Representative Matt Patrick. Patrick, a Falmouth Democrat is proposing raising the state’s income tax by 1% which would bring the tax to 6.3%. This is wrong on so many levels. First of all, back in 2000 Massachusetts residents went to the polls and overwhelmingly voted to roll back the income tax to 5%. The will of the voters was ignored then and is clearly being overlooked now with the filing of this amendment. Additionally, we are facing extremely difficult financial times, and taxpayers can truly not afford to pay any more taxes. It is incredibly audacious of supporters of this amendment to think that Bay State residents should continue to foot the bill for mismanaged programs and agencies. Leave the income tax rate where it is and cut the waste instead. Remember, this is just round one of revealing the tax happy ways of Beacon Hill Democrats. More tax increase proposals to come!

Now to the good! The Republican Leadership Office has filed an amendment that will save the Commonwealth millions of dollars. We are facing a fiscal emergency of a magnitude and scope not seen since the Great Depression. The declining economy, the current budget crisis requiring a reduction in funding to essential programs and services and the probability of future budget deficits are all contributing to this current situation. The amendment we filed requires furloughs of all state employees other than judges (who are encouraged to work 10 days without pay) and those subject to collective bargaining. The furloughs would be required as follows: for each employee whose annual compensation is less than $50,000, three days; for each employee whose annual compensation is $50,000 or greater but not more than $79,999, five days; for each employee whose annual compensation is $80,000 or greater but not more than $99,999, seven days; for each employee whose annual compensation is $100,000 or greater, nine days. Employees may choose to take unpaid days off, work and defer pay, or work and collect additional vacation days to be used no earlier than fiscal year 2011. The expression, “Do as I say, not as I do” is not going to cut it given the current state of our economy. It is imperative that the consequences of these financial conditions be mitigated as soon as possible through a shared burden and sacrifice.

Be sure to visit www.thecapitolviewlive.com tomorrow as a massive gas tax increase goes head to head with repealing some well known “hack” holidays.