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More is Never Enough
Ted Tripp, North Andover Taxpayers Association

Citizens for Limited Taxation uses the phrase “More Is Never Enough” to explain the mindset of government spending, whether it is at the federal, state or local level. A corollary to this might be “If you give them the money, they will spend it.”

These two phrases explain one of the major reasons behind Governor Romney’s push and CLT’s efforts to roll back the state income tax to its historic level of 5 percent. The other major reason, of course, is that the legislature – our state government – promised in 1989 that their recently enacted tax increase to 5.75  percent was just “temporary.”

In the year 2000, voters went to the polls and overwhelmingly (by a vote of 59  percent to 41 percent) sent a message to our representatives and senators that it was now time to reduce the income tax back to 5  percent. The legislature started along this path, but then citing recessionary pressures, put a hold on the final portion of the rollback until the economy improved. They have now structured continuance of the rollback such that we will be unlikely to see it any time before the next millennium.

Although the state economy is recovering nicely and monthly revenues are breaking records, the state is still reluctant to give any of this new money back to the taxpayers. The politicians quote important programs that need more funding, such as aid to cities and towns, education, infrastructure improvements, etc. What they don’t talk about are their grand plans for the future with universal healthcare (a constitutional amendment is in the works) and early childhood education programs (predicted to cost at least another $1 billion/year).

That giant sucking sound you hear is more money being removed from your wallet as our politicians promise to solve all our perceived problems with more government. There is apparently nothing they see in the private sector that government can’t do better, even though virtually all the evidence is to the contrary. Do we really want our healthcare system run by people who brought us the Big Dig? Do we want our youngest and most vulnerable children cared for and taught by an educational establishment and union that have done such a dismal job educating our students in basic math, reading and writing?

And look at the money that has poured into these programs with diminishing results. Remember in 1985 when we were told the Big Dig would cost $2.6 billion? The current price tag is almost $15 billion and there are many problems yet to be fixed. In 2004 the Beacon Hill Institute published an analysis, “Money for Nothing”, which showed the $25 billion spent by the state since the Education Reform Act of 1993 has had little or no measurable effect on actually improving educational outcomes.

How many more billions do we want to spend before we taxpayers just say no?

We can demand performance and accountability until we are blue in the face, but the only way to really solve the problem is to turn off the money spigot. That’s what returning the income tax back to its historic 5  percent level would do and why our politicians are so opposed to it. Just the fact that our notorious legislature (which recently removed the voter-mandated deduction for charitable contributions and reduced the personal standard deduction) is against the tax rollback should be all the more reason to roll it back.

In 2002 North Andover voters had the good sense to vote for Question 1, the outright repeal of the state income tax. Now the intelligent voters of North Andover must help the governor and CLT take the first step in this process and return the current 5.3  percent tax to 5  percent by calling their representatives and senators and telling them now is the time for the rollback. Be polite when you call and remind them of the promise they made to you and rest of the people back in 1989.

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Prior Columns by Ted Tripp