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Crazy and Dangerous

If you live in Massachusetts, watch out.  This group -- Committee for Small Government -- is trying to create some chaos.  According to today's Boston Globe, this group is trying to put a binding ballot initiative on the November ballot that would abolish the Massachusetts state income tax.  Now, it sounds great to not pay income taxes, but, according to the Globe, this represents about 40% of the state budget.  You can't make a cut that big without a plan.

The Globe says that this is 3x the amount of money that the state sends to cities and towns for schools.  So, your income tax savings would probably be offset with big property tax increases.  But, Proposition 2 1/2 makes it hard for towns to raise their property taxes, so schools, police, and fire departments will just be cut, probably deeply. 

The advocates of this crazy idea cite government waste as the reason to do this.  I am all in favor of cutting government waste.  I'd love to pay less in taxes.  But, I'll only do it with a well thought out plan for making departments more effiicent, thinking through alternative funding sources, etc.  I know from looking at my town's school budget that there is huge pressure from special education and energy costs that ensures that the schools have to tighten and cut a bit every year.  Although this is painful, it does make sure that the adminstrators are looking out for effiicency.  Could they do more?  Probably.  Could they cut 40% overnight and still do anything close to their current mission?  No way.  We'll be paying fees for everything to offset this crazy scheme.

Something like this surprisingly got 45% of the vote in 2002.  I expect a more organized fight this time.  I'd love to see a debate between Governor Patrick and Carla Howell on this.  We'd be so much better off if people like this put forward well thought out proposals on cutting government spending without creating chaos.

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