Would you cut your state's budget by nearly 40 Percent?

I’d put this in GD, but I think I shall be passing out under the influence of influenza shortly and don’t know when next I’ll be around. (Want to avoid starting a debate where I’m not much of a part of it.)

In Massachusetts, we have three questions on our ballot, but the first is what has me worried. Question One asks whether we should abolish the state income tax. That represents 40% of our state’s income.

The proponents claim that this will eliminate governmental excess. Said people are also enamored of New Hampshire’s system of no income but (ridiculously) high property tax. The nick name “Taxachusetts” get bandied about quite often.

The opponents (which would include me) believe that:
[li]while there’s excess in any budget, I sincerely doubt that there’s 40% excess.[/li][li]IIRC, there is a survey that compares percentage of annual salary paid in the six New England States, and New York. Mass is the lowest.[/li][li]A 40% cut in the state’s budget will resound down the line to towns. Most towns get a rather significant amount of money from the state. (“Local Aid” for those playing the home game.) In the town where I work (I’m a teacher), a 40% cut in state aid would translate to a 20% cut in the school’s budget. I really can’t say that things will be peachy keen if we lose 1 in 5 staff members.[/ul][/li]
This question (or one just like it) was on the ballot about 5 years ago, when the economy was much stronger. (And thus, people weren’t thinking with their wallets, so to speak.) It was voted down with a 45/55 margin. I can easily see that being reversed this year.

I hate to say it, but, if this passes, I may seriously think about moving to another state. Believe it or not, but I could make a heck of a lot more money in either New Hampshire or Pennsylvania.

If all it did was reduce the total amount of taxes, maybe. But I’d rather have an income tax or even sales tax than high property taxes.

Especially in this economy. More people losing their homes? Oy.

I work for the state of Ohio. If we experienced a 40% cut, we’d be looking at lots of layoffs and major service disruptions and benefit cuts.

Don’t know how tightly Massachusetts government has been managed, but I find it hard to imagine having anywhere near 40% that one could do without.


What he said.

I predict that if this passes, the legislature will be forced to actually do a sane thing (that hurts their re-election chances), and reinstate the income tax, maybe at a lower rate. But there’s no way the Commonwealth can operate with a 40% cut in revenue.

If you read the full text of the proposed law here (warning, PDF), it sounds like it was written by some “Ohio wasn’t a state and the flag has gold fringe” whackjob. Some quotes:

“The government of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts today is Big Government”

“Big Government makes people weak and dependent”

“Small government is simple, cheap, and good;”

They also claim it will create “hundreds of thousands of jobs”, which is a neat trick for a state that only has a working age population of 4 million or so.

The MA state legislature spends a ridiculous amount of money on stuff. The governor vetoes the spending and the legislature overrides the vetoes. I read about this every week in my local paper. So when this question came up again I was in the mindset of voting yes.

But then I looked at the arguments of proponents of Question 1. Their main argument is that about 40% of state spending is waste. Where did they get this number? They asked people “How much of state spending do you think is waste?” and averaged their responses.

The rest of their arguments go like this: “Small government is better than big government. We say so, so it’s true. We can get rid of the income tax without affecting government services. Other taxes, including property taxes, won’t go up.” As much as I think that the legislature wastes our money, I can’t get behind such a simple-minded approach to solving the problem.

Proponents also like to talk about the $3,700 this measure will save each and every taxpayer, on average. I know that the average person will see that and think that he will have $3,700 more in his pocket. He won’t, of course - most people pay far less than that in state income tax. Those people will be voting against their own self interest - they won’t save much money and they will miss the services that will have to be cut. I will save $6,000, most of which I’ll have to give to my town in order to keep the schools going (and hope that everyone else will do the same). In the end, the rich will be OK and the poor will be worse off. Carla Howell will have her utopia and perhaps she’ll finally see that she’s kind of an idiot.

The state of MA has proven itself completely incompetent, in every aspect of government. What basically happened, is that every incumbent politician has larded up the state payroll with friends and relatives. take the MA Turnpike Authority: over 70% of its toll receipts are via transponders-but it still employs the same number of toll takers as it did 5 years ago. Plus, it is a totally illegal agency-its articles of incorporation specified that it cease to exist in 1985 (when the original construction bonds were paid off). What did it do? it borrowed MORE money, and guaranteed its existance for the next 30 years! The state neds to go bankrupt and cancel all of its union labor contracts.

This is another one of my favorite bullshit lines that the proponents are using to lure people into voting for the question. Their line of the average amount of income tax saved is $3700 is designed to convince people that they will get that much back. This is a classic example of the difference between mean and median. That might be the mean, but it sure ain’t the median.

If the idea is such a great one, why do they need to confuse people into voting for it?

While I don’t disagree that the state government needs some work done (and, having had interactions with the DOE, I can agree with you on the incompetency of at least that branch), I would like to know how forcing a budget crisis, but leaving the same people in charge is going to effect the changes you wish.

A 40% reduction in taxes seems like cutting off your head to spite your nose.

I’d cut as much as I could out of Pennsylvania. When I hear about budget shortfalls I laugh, because “budget shortfall” is code for “I want to spend more money on my pet projects but don’t have it”. Another fact of life, be it political or not, is that a budget expands to consume all available money, which is why they constantly have to raise taxes or come up with new schemes to raise funds.

I’d pull the net out from under these clowns in a heartbeat.

This just in: the MA House is meeting in special session-they plan to issue a resolution stating that “if Question 1 passes (elimination of the income tax), we will ignore the referendum results”!
Democracy in action!:smack:

Everyone knows that they will ignore the referendum, but I’m amazed that they’re stupid enough to think that this tactic will work. They’re surely hoping that people will think “A Yes vote would be a waste since it’s no different than a No vote” and the referendum won’t pass. If they issue that resolution, I will vote to get rid of the income tax and so will everyone else who is aware of the resolution. It will get more votes than if they had kept their mouths shut.

I’m going to vote against the incumbent in every race with opposition. These people have forgotten how the system works. They think we work for them.