NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

November 16, 2013

Taxing times on Beacon Hill

From the State House News Service Advances, week of Nov. 10:

“TAX FAIRNESS COMMISSION: The commission will vote on “Principles of Good Tax Policy,” hear a briefing from the chairs, and will receive a data presentation from the Office of Administration and Finance. Rep. Jay Kaufman and Sen. Michael Rodrigues chair the commission. (Tuesday, 1:30 p.m.).”

Ah, gee, I didn’t get invited to serve on this commission, though I’ve served on others. I think the oversight may reflect my long-standing grass-roots resistance to a graduated income tax, which was defeated on the statewide ballot several times. I suspect this commission will decide that a grad tax is the definition of “tax fairness.”

In 1981, new to the Statehouse, coming off CLT’s ballot victory that created Proposition 21/2, I was appointed to Gov. King’s Commission on Restructuring State Government. I was so excited: I thought we were actually going to restructure state government!

If I remember correctly, we had only three months to get that job done, but in my youthful naivete, I saw no reason we couldn’t do it. The more experienced chairman of the commission, Jack Delaney from Bank of Boston, knew better. He announced at the first meeting that he wasn’t going to waste our time, so we were going to find one part of state government that needed restructuring, focus on that, and get it done.

If I recall, we came up with a recommendation about juvenile incarceration, which may have been accomplished. As I researched this column on Google, I was saddened to learn that Jack Delaney died in 2010. In his comprehensive, high-achievement obituary, this commission wasn’t mentioned, which tells you something about these commissions in general.

Sometime in the ‘90s, I served on Gov. William Weld’s Commission on Alternative Funding for Education. The chairmen were state Sen. Stan Rosenberg, D-Amherst, who was dreaming of a graduated income tax, and probably still is as he waits his turn to be Senate president; and state Rep. Jay Kaufman, D-Lexington, the House chairman of the new Tax Fairness Commission.

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