SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

August 19, 2013

Our view: Some cheers, jeers for local newsmakers

CHEERS to the continued success of what is rapidly becoming a local tradition: Summer farmers markets.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Massachusetts ranks seventh in the country for number of farmers markets. State numbers put the number of markets at 255 in the summer, with another 40 or so in the winter. That’s up from about 167 markets — total — in 2008.

A good chunk of the increase can be attributed to several relatively new or growing markets in communities such as Salem, Beverly, Swampscott and Marblehead that feature fresh, locally grown fruit and produce.

The waning days of summer are the perfect time to take advantage of ripening local crops. And the markets have plenty of other products to offer as well, including bread, cut flowers and wine.

JEERS to the continued cluelessness of some legislators when it comes to the newly minted tax on computer services.

Business leaders and IT experts say the 6.25 percent tax on some services — but not others — is highly confusing and threatens to strip more than $500 million from companies and consumers.

Don’t tell that to lawmakers, especially those scrambling to explain their vote in favor of what has become a lightning rod for criticism.

According to the State House News Service, House Ways and Means Chairman Brian Dempsey released a fact sheet saying the new revenue stream was a “modernizing” and not a new tax.

“The changes to the sales tax will help level the playing field by requiring technology companies’ products to be subject to the sales tax, just as other businesses’ products are taxed.”

Over in the Senate, however, Stephen Brewer and Michael Rodrigues sent their own fact sheet outlining all the services that will not be subject to the new tax, including technical support and website hosting.

So depending on which “fact sheet” you choose to believe, legislators meant to level the playing field, or tax some businesses and not others.

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