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Massachusetts Liberal

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

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Time for a dithering tax?

It will cost a whole lot more to drive to the slots parlor if a couple of ideas floated on Beacon Hill come to pass.

On a day that the state posted another plunging revenue collection report, the stock market tanked -- again -- and the Associated Press thought it appropriate to run a story on when recession turns into depression, the state's "elites" came up with two separate proposals to raise almost $900 million annually.

Treasure Tim Cahill says three slots-only parlors across the commonwealth could generate upwards of $244 million annually -- with far less muss and fuss than full-fledged casinos. His proposal was leaked in advance of a speech to the elites at the Boston Chamber of Commerce breakfast.

Not to be too cynical about Treasure Tim (OK, maybe a little), the proposal looks a lot like one-upmanship in his "non-challenge" to Deval Patrick. Since the governor may be mulling a restoration of his request for three casinos, why not trump him, so to speak?

This cynicism stems from the fact that Las Vegas is hurting as badly as every other industry and doesn't seem to be in the mood to expansion (and paying state's handsomely for the opportunity).

Or perhaps the treasurer didn't read the Globe interview with Vegas mogul and Massachusetts homie Sheldon Adelson.

But say some form of gambling comes to pass. A 25-cent a gallon increase in the gasoline tax -- proposed by the very same Boston Chamber among others -- would one-up the 19-cent hike proposed by Patrick.

Like the already elitist proposal before the Legislature, this would would also demand serious reforms in the state's transportation management infrastructure as a pre-condition for doing business. Estimates suggest it could generate around $650 million

You see a theme developing here?

Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Steven Baddour of Methuen (a short drive from New Hampshire) has already labeled the gasoline tax hike a product of the Boston elites. The reaction among Herald readers would certainly back that suggestion up.

But if we are going to make this into a regional and class warfare thing, aren't slots an even greater "voluntary" tax on the any who doesn't raise his or her hand and proudly call themselves Boston elites?

A couple of weeks ago, at the tail end of the hard-working Legislature's school vacation week, I suggested fewer words and more action might be in order. And that lawmakers and elected officials consider a tax on their own verbiage and for dithering while the state slides deeper into the hole.

That tax would be raking in some real great cash today. And it would hit hardest at the "elites."

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Predatory gambling has found its true champion today in Tim Cahill. Today's proposal represents the worst in Massachusetts politics. Rather than propose an honest broad-based revenue increase, Cahill would have us fund state government by preying on problem gamblers at great cost to their families, employers, and communities. That's not the kind of leadership we need or deserve in Massachusetts.

If Cahill wanted to be helpful he'd get behind Deval's gas-tax proposal. But, then, maybe Cahill is fantacizing about challenging Deval in the 2010 primary as some people speculate. Ain't gonna happen. Deval would clean his clock.


Leo Maley; Executive Director, Progressive Mass. PAC

March 03, 2009 12:58 PM  

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