Beacon Hill Follies Ignore State's
Ted Tripp, North Andover Taxpayers Association
The Census Bureau recently reported that for the second year in a row Massachusetts has lost population. We are the only state in the country to have done so. If not for the immigration of foreigners, the numbers of those leaving our state are far higher. The research institute MassINC reports that between 1990 and 2002 approximately 213,000 more people left Massachusetts than arrived from other states, and the trend seems to be accelerating.
Why are we losing population while just north, in New Hampshire, it is increasing? That fact would seem to rule out the usual excuse of cold winters with their icy roads and piles of snow. The data also show that both New Hampshire and Rhode Island picked up almost 90,000 former Massachusetts residents from 1990 through 2002. People are fleeing our beloved state.
Obviously, the cost of housing, high taxes and lack of certain jobs are factors. But this is also the situation in other states such as California or New Jersey. Could our dysfunctional state government also be a contributing factor? We are, after all, generally looked at with ridicule by much of the rest of the country.
Those in the heartland view us as the state which brought the country Michael Dukakis and Ted Kennedy. Then there is convicted killer Willie Horton and how he was let out of jail to continue his crime spree. Most recently there has been the bizarre Supreme Judicial Court decision to make Massachusetts the first state in the country to approve same-sex marriage.
The economy seems to be good based on tax revenues and low unemployment figures. But perhaps this is a false reading of a business sector that is still shaky. We know, for example, that the state has lost thousands of high paying, high tech jobs over the last 15 years. The only parts of the economy which now seem robust and growing are biotech, medical devices and maybe the defense industry. The reason why these are doing well is because of the proximity to topnotch educational institutions like MIT, Harvard, Boston College, Tufts, and Northeastern University.
Does anybody believe for a moment where Massachusetts would be if these colleges and universities all of a sudden disappeared? I suspect business would leave in droves for more hospitable locations.
So what is our Great and General Court doing to strengthen our economy and attract more industry? Cutting Taxes? No. Reducing regulations? No. Improving infrastructure? No. Reforming our schools? No.
Our legislators dont have time for these crucial tasks as they are hard at work on even more important issues. In recent weeks they have spent considerable time and effort on a bill to allow illegal aliens sorry, undocumented students to attend state colleges at the in-state tuition rate. The concept was even supported by our Attorney General Tom Reilly, who doesnt seem to understand the term illegal.
Then the solons took on the important issue of seat belts. Should not wearing seat belts while driving be a primary or secondary offense? Who knew this was a major concern of workers in Massachusetts worrying about paying their next heating bill?
Now the representatives are debating whether or not the state should require religious institutions to report their financial matters to the commonwealth. Implicit in this, if the state doesnt like something, is that government bureaucrats can then attempt to regulate what a particular church might be doing or wish to do. Whatever happened to separation of church and state?
And also on the docket is a bill to make sex education mandatory in all our public schools, with participation a possible requirement for graduation. Details of what would be taught in elementary, middle and high school are specified by the state. Every child would automatically attend unless parents took specific steps to opt out of the program.
Here is the bottom line: Assuming the Great and General Court had passed or will pass all this important legislation, would it make new business entities more likely or less likely to locate in Massachusetts? And for those employers already here, are they more likely or less likely to expand their operations in the Bay State?
It should be obvious to all that the answers to these questions are directly linked to why some of our best employment opportunities are now with U-Haul, Ryder Truck Rental, Bekins, Mayflower, Allied Van Lines and all the rest of the major moving companies.
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