, Salem, MA


December 5, 2012

Anderson: What about the Bay State's fiscal cliff?


According to the State House News Service, “employers would pay to state government a percentage of the salary of workers earning more than the threshold, with the money dedicated to transportation financing. A tax of three-quarters of 1 percent would generate more than $190 million annually.”

Inevitably, the pay level would decrease and the tax percent would increase, until not just “the rich” would pay this. Fortunately, the Massachusetts Constitution does not allow a graduated income tax: All earnings must be taxed at the same flat rate, and my educated guess is the courts wouldn’t be fooled by this indirect method of graduation.

Advocates may have a fallback plan though: taxing us all by miles driven. Let’s take a moment to wonder why the 1990 gas tax increase didn’t maintain the roads and bridges as promised, why a state with the fourth-largest per-capita tax burden and the highest per-capita debt in the nation can’t already afford a well-run transportation system.

Don’t tell me about the extraordinary cost of the Big Dig. I was around when the Dukakis administration told us it would cost less than $3 billion, just to get people to sign on.

Not to seem hostile to all new taxes, though: Here’s one I like! Rep. Dan Winslow, R-Norfolk, is filing a bill for a 25 percent tax on the money left over in politicians’ campaign funds after an election. Right now, it’s not considered taxable income as they carry it forward to their next campaign.

“There’s more than $20 million sitting in war chests,” Winslow told me this week. Simple math: $5 million from politicians instead of more taxes from us. An added benefit is that it removes some of the advantage incumbents have over citizens who challenge them.

Other legislators are working on saving money from expenditures. Fortunately, Rep. Jim Lyons, R-Andover, wasn’t one of the excellent Republican candidates defeated in November; he’s renewed his fight to prevent state benefits being paid to illegal immigrants.

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