Boston Tea Party II
Forbes Magazine dated October 27, 2008
The Massachusetts political establishment is horrified--voters might actually pass a proposition abolishing the state income tax. The personal income tax rate is 5.3%, and the state capital gains levy peaks at 12%. Under the proposition the tax would be cut 50% on Jan. 1, 2009 and eradicated on Jan. 1, 2010. These exactions currently raise about 40% of the state's budget revenue--27% if you count all of the Bay State's off-budget spending.
A similar measure was on the ballot six years ago. With almost no promotion it garnered a 45% yes vote, stunning politicians. The measure got a majority in a third of Massachusetts towns. An earlier proposition--a mild one--had appeared on the ballot in 2000. It cut the income tax to 5% from 5.75%. It passed. But state legislators thumbed their noses at the voters, lowering the rate only to 5.3%--a graphic example of the growing disconnect between citizens and the political culture.
Naturally, opponents predict the direst of circumstances if the measure passes, even though the state legislature will probably treat the referendum the same way it did the previous tax cut initiative.
The reason the measure stands even a chance of passing is not that Bay State citizens are selfish (even though each would enjoy on average an additional $3,700 of income) but that they are angry. This is an attack on political establishments there and throughout the U.S. that routinely put their own interests above those of their constituents: lavish government pensions with payouts that would bankrupt private companies; resistance to genuine reform in Medicaid spending, which has become the biggest item on virtually every state's budget; ever more pork-barrel spending; and ever more obsequiousness to rapacious special interests.
It's telling when one of the most liberal states in the Union, with two extremely liberal U.S. senators and a House delegation with nary a Republican, is on the verge of a tax rebellion.
Bay State voters--go for your proposition. Your pols didn't enact your polite initiative of a small income tax reduction. Maybe they'll wake up when you whack them with a 2-by-4.