SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

January 23, 2013

Anderson: Won't get fooled again

(Continued)

Of course, they didn’t get it; they got a sales tax increase instead. But still they elected him again in 2010, when he said he had no plans to further increase broad-based taxes. Last week, he announced his plan to increase the income tax rate to 6.25 percent again.

He says he will partly offset this by reducing the sales tax rate to 4.5 percent — the sales tax rate, as noted above, that he just hiked in 2009.

Memo to gullible voters: They take turns raising broad-based taxes. This year, it’s the income tax’s turn; they’ll be back to increase the sales tax rate again after the next election, “for transportation needs,” “for the children.”

Patrick also says he wants a graduated income tax. Unfortunately for him and other liberals who crave this easy way to raise taxes, one bracket at a time, our state constitution doesn’t allow a graduated income tax, and can only be amended by a vote of the people on a statewide ballot. This has been tried; the most recent attempts failed in 1962, 1968 and 1994.

Patrick said last week that instead of trying to amend the state constitution, he’ll increase the personal exemptions “to push more burden onto higher-income earners,” according to his budget director.

I was at a news conference in 1986 when the Massachusetts Senate wanted to do a backdoor version using vanishing personal exemptions; my comment at the time was that it’s unconstitutional. The state Supreme Judicial Court agreed. I’d expect the same decision on Patrick’s 2013 plan. Legislators might think twice about taking a roll-call vote that might be nullified if one of the “higher-income earners” goes to court.

Massachusetts Turnpike tolls were also sold as “temporary” to pay for the actual construction, after which they would end. In 2000, a group tried to make the state keep that promise with a ballot question to finally abolish the tolls; opponents said that if it passed there’d have to be a gas tax increase, so voters chose to keep the tolls. Patrick is now proposing to raise the tolls and increase the gas tax by adjusting the price to inflation every year.

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