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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 02, 2010

Fiddling while Massachusetts burns

OK, pop quiz time: who likes going to the Registry of Motor Vehicles? The harsh lights, the long lines, the cheerful friendly help. You can put you hand down now Registrar Kaprelian.

Now, what if you could save $5 by doing your business with the Registry by mail or online. Any takers?

And oh yeah, at the same time you would be doing an ever small part to close a potential $5 billion budget gap that would like close all the registry offices in the state, forcing you to do your business by mail or online.

Welcome to Bizarro Massachusetts, where Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Steve Baddour of Methuen worries about "nickel and diming" people for mandated services while state and local treasuries bleed cash to pay for the gold plated health benefits for public employees -- like himself.

And where the head of the state Republican Party bemoans a "backdoor tax" that “burdens those people who can least afford it, like the poor and elderly who often don’t have Internet access."

Never mind that you can also transact your business by United States Postal Service. And that even the poor and elderly can get Internet access and know how to use it. Or that many industries -- banks, airlines to name two not-so-popular examples -- also charge what amounts to a convenience fee to transact business in person when it can be handled in other ways.

But this latest outcry of "heck no we won't pay" is positively astounding in the face of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation latest bulletin that we would be facing a structural deficit of $5 billion in fiscal 2012 if a pair of sales tax rollback proposals reach the ballot in November.

Says MTF President Michael Widmer:
“We’ve got this huge structural deficit in fiscal 2012 even if the ballot questions aren’t approved by the voters,” Widmer said. “If they are, it’s a $5 billion hole."
Not all lawmakers are apparently as clueless as Baddour.

House budget chief Charles Murphy said passage of the two proposals would leave the state budget “in a world of hurt.”

“I get the sense that this is something that people are just starting to think about,” he said.

Let's be honest. Baddour and the state GOP have a similar goal -- pin the tail on Deval. The difference is Baddour an elected officials who still thinks he can demagogue about fees while the state's battered financial infrastructure continues to melt.

It's a great way to sidestep discussion of and responsibility for things that have happened under his watch in the Senate. Even if he is lighting a match to torch what is left of citizen services in Massachusetts.

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Blogger Ron Newman said...

Here's a better idea: why not reduce the Registry's workload, and the hassle factor for ordinary citizens, by issuing all licenses and registrations for a 20-year term? No more need to stand in line for renewals for most people.

March 02, 2010 9:32 AM  

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