Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Budget Season Round 2: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

We’re kicking off round two with an issue that sparked our interest to launch last month’s Hardship Listening Tour, and that is the effort to increase the state’s gas tax. Beacon Hill has long been controlled by tax happy Democrats and here we are in the midst of a long and tough recession and they want to reach into your pocket once again. And for what? To continue pouring your hard earned money into a broken transportation system.

There has been much talk up here at the State House about increasing the gas tax and the legislator who proposed the idea during this budget season is Representative Kay Khan. The Newton Democrat wants to add a new outside section that requires the gasoline tax be no less than 29 cents more than the quarterly tax set for that date. Read that again, and you will see it says no less, which means at least 29 cents! So basically, this opens the door for an even higher gas tax. Increasing any kind of tax in this current economy should not even be an option. The House and Senate recently passed transportation reform bills. Both are now in conference committee and the final version will likely contain many positive reforms, some of which our caucus proposed. After a bill is signed into law, we should give those reforms an opportunity to succeed before telling the taxpayers we need more money. There are provisions in both bills that will likely save the Commonwealth hundreds of millions of dollars. Let’s see those reforms enacted first.

Evacuation Day and Bunker Hill Day are often on the receiving end of much criticism and ridicule, and rightfully so. That is why our caucus is proposing doing away with the observation of these two “hack holidays.” While we understand this is not necessarily a big money saver, it will certainly go a long way in restoring the public’s confidence in its elected officials. Having Suffolk County offices open on these two days will provide greater efficiency and productivity as well. There have been several negative instances that have broken the public’s trust. Ethical improprieties, wasteful spending and continued occurrences of patronage have made it hard for Commonwealth citizens to believe their legislators are looking out for their best interests. We believe eliminating these two holidays will be a positive step in the right direction and hope to continue making strides to regain the public’s confidence.

Tomorrow on, a sales tax hike vs. an amendment to eliminate prescription drug waste.