By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Business as usual on Beacon Hill

Sharp commentary today from Jon Keller and the Outraged Liberal on the near-certain prospect that the Legislature will raise the sales tax by 25 percent.

As I’ve said before, we probably need a significant tax hike. Since the late 1980s, there’s been a disconnect between our demand for spending (mainly in the form of local aid) and our willingness to pay for it.

But to move ahead on a major boost in the sales tax (from 5 percent to 6.25 percent) without making some real changes in the government pension system, and without insisting that public employees make the same kind of sacrifices in salary and health benefits that private-sector workers are making, is unconscionable.

It’s also business as usual.

House Speaker Robert DeLeo, in a recent op-ed piece in the Boston Globe, argued that the Legislature is on the way to reforming the way it does business. I hope that’s the case.

On the other hand, we all know that when the pressure is off, people tend to slide back into their old habits.

This is a great opportunity for Gov. Deval Patrick. Let’s hope he can rise to the occasion.

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  1. Aaron Read

    On the other hand, we all know that when the pressure is off, people tend to slide back into their old habits.This is a great opportunity for Gov. Deval Patrick. Let’s hope he can rise to the occasion.Geez Dan, I like your writing most of the time, but I’ve never seen a bigger disconnect between two paragraphs before. Patrick IS Beacon Hill, he’s not going to reform anything. What this is, and the only thing it is, is an opportunity for the electorate. Get some ballot initiatives going. Demand pols resign. Maybe even, gasp, do something to get a third-party candidate elected…someone with nothing to lose by pissing off everyone else on the Hill.But of course none of those things will ever happen. Because, quite frankly, voters in Massachusetts (like most places) are a bunch of sheep. You’ll take your tax hike while the Legislature skims the cream off the top…and you’ll like it.BAAAAAAAA!

  2. matteomht

    I never thought I’d say this, but– where is Barbara Anderson when you need her? I’m surprised the CLT is pretty much absent from this discussion, when the tax-hike seems tailor made for a voter referendum in 2010 to cut it back. I’d vote for that.

  3. Treg

    Forget Patrick, and forget a 3rd party candidate. Mass. Democrats need to nominate someone else to run.

  4. lkcape

    And who might the Democrats nominate? A “reform candidate”?Right!Wasn’t that what they did the last time?

  5. Nial Liszt

    Federal stimulus money State of Massachusetts scheduled to receive– $11,000,000,000. Federal stimulus money typical taxpayer to receive– $11 a week in decreased withholding. The legislature only wants to take away about half of that (during a recession) by the time all increases are implemented. Sounds fair to me.

  6. mike_b1

    lkcape,I’ve lived in six states and visited all but six of them, and have found three things common to each: 1. Our (local) education system sucks.2. Our crime rate is too high.3. Our taxes are too high.

  7. Treg

    Ikcape, I’m a Democrat. I suppose I thought we were getting someone reform-minded in Patrick. Maybe I was wrong. Or maybe I was right. Bottom line is, he has been horribly ineffective, has not acquitted himself well in his appointments, and is a liability to the party at this point. I hope he can be convinced to return to the private sector, or find a nice non-profit to help run or something.

  8. Bill H.

    I’m a Democrat, and I think that the problems in this state are caused about equally by the Democratic Party and the voters. Everybody complains about the Legislature, and there is a lot to complain about. But come every other November, they return the same senators and reps that are at the heart of the problem. Voters are disgusted with the Legislature but in love with their own reps. That, plus the fact that the Republicans can’t field reasonable candidates.

  9. Dan Kennedy

    Bill: But nobody runs against the Democratic legislators in the primaries, either. Yes, the voters deserve some blame, but when many of the races are uncontested, you can only blame them so much.

  10. NewsHound

    Is there any reason why the cost of government should be a greater percentage of the overall spending? The current 5% rate is adjusted with inflation and economic growth. Overtaxing and wasting the money will only dilute the federal economic stimulus. We certainly want Massachusetts to recover with the rest of the nation.

  11. Aaron Read

    Our crime rate is too high.Actually, I’m with Dave in “Mystic River” on this one: What we need is a good crime wave to get property values back down where they belong.

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