NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

January 19, 2013

Adding up the future in tax proposals

Bill Plante
Newburyport Daily News

---- — Big Freddy had his morning newspaper spread across the table when I joined him.

“Spill your coffee?” I asked.

“Trying to put two and two together with the governor’s call for new taxes,” Freddy said as he folded the paper.

“But he’s recommending cutting some at the same time,” I said.

“Sugar and spice,” Freddy said.

“You’ve lost me,” I said.

“Giving with one hand, taking away with the other,” Freddy said.

“You win with a tax break, but if you have to use the T to get to work or for whatever, you lose. If you’re using your car, he wants to raise the state’s take on a gallon of gas from 21 cents a gallon to 211/2 cents to begin with and peg the price to inflation down the road.

“Or on the down side, some 45 personal tax deductions are going to be gone-zo. So are some of the breaks for college scholarships. Deductions for dependents under 12 years old? If Patrick gets what he wants, they won’t.”

“But it’s not all take-away,” I said.

“Right,” Freddy said. “It’s take with one hand and give back with the other, with the net result after the giving and taking being a tax hike of just under a couple billion dollars, which he wants to use for education and improving transportation.”

“That will create jobs,” I said.

“It will create jobs, and if things go as they usually do with our state’s building of this and that, it will also create cost overruns, but they won’t be on Patrick’s watch because he will be long gone,” Freddy said.

“You’re always the cynic,” I said.

“Always the realist,” Freddy said. “Take the proposed cut in sales tax.”

“Who won’t?” I asked.

“Those who take their business to New Hampshire,” Freddy said. “No sales tax there, and gas is cheaper than in most places on our side of the border.”

“But there are other borders,” I said.

“Right,” Freddy said. “So, it’s a give-away to New Hampshire for north of Boston. Elsewhere, not so good. Gas tax goes up. T fares go up in and around Boston along with the tolls for tunnels, turnpike and bridge tolls that go up 5 percent every two years. If you own a car — and who doesn’t — he wants Registry fees to jump 10 percent every five years.”

“What you’re saying is Patrick’s overreaching,” I said.

“No, what I’m saying is he’s looking at what’s real — where we are and where we’re heading for if we don’t face up to where we’re going to be,” Freddy said.

“Easy for him to say, because he’s going to be long gone whatever the outcome,” I said.

“Don’t be too sure of that,” Freddy said. “He’s young, he’s rich, he’s bright, and he’s likeable. He just put some cards on the table that the movers and shakers up on the Hill are going to have to deal with, and there’s no chance they’ll simply rubber stamp it. He’ll take what he can get, be able to take a pass on what he doesn’t, and move on to what he sees as possibly lying ahead.”

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Bill Plante is a Newbury resident and staff columnist. His email address is plantejr@comcast.net.