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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Like taking candy from a baby

Deval Patrick is reaching for the candy jar -- and from the howls you would think he's calling for higher income taxes.

While the Herald's graphics folks deserve credit for a cute graphic, the gang at Wingo Square misses the seriousness of the issues facing Massachusetts (and the country)-- or the effort to find much needed revenues other than touching the third rail of Massachusetts politics, the income tax.

While I have some quibbles about the proposal -- extending the bottle law to water and juice strikes me as a nickel and dime proposal (pun intended) that won't really generate a lot of cash even if it will serve as a form of public assistance to folks who roam the recycling bins at night and pluck bottles from the trash.

And while I'm personally not relishing the thought of higher meals taxes, I have a hard time taking seriously the laments of Peter Christie of the the restaurant lobby who contends "We think it's outrageous for them to single us out when our industry is reeling."

Have you looked at automobiles, financial services, retail, human services, education or high tech to name a few industries that aren't doing so hot?

And the restaurant lobby is surely not being "singled out" -- with higher fees for longer waits at the Registry as well as deep cuts public higher education that will likely mean tuition and fee increases.

Other areas that will be "singled out" are local schools, where aid will be frozen; the judiciary; Medicaid; libraries that serve the blind in Worcester and Watertown; the mentally and physically disabled would be reduced.

Hey, at least Christie's martini with his meal was already taxed. And the taxes lost if folks drive to New Hampshire for cheaper booze and candy will probably be made up in higher gasoline taxes.

Christopher Anderson of the Massachusetts High Technology Council is correct in saying this is an opening salvo. But it is somewhat surprising in that it isn't harsher -- income and broader sales tax hikes. The cuts are deep but with carrots offered to ease them with new revenues.

Administration and Finance Secretary Leslie Kirwan deserves credit for not following the script to the letter and coming up with different suggestions like the candy tax.

Hopefully we will see creative alternatives to the administration plan rather than the scripted responses that followed its unveiling.

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