The Hiller Instinct: Budget Crisis
This is the day many people in Massachusetts never thought they'd see, the day business as usual on Beacon Hill fundamentally changed. It's now a virtual certainty state government will shrink, providing fewer services in the future than it has in the past, because there will not be new taxes.
As advocates of higher taxes rallied outside the State House, inside the house chamber, there were many proposals to raise revenues.
Among the suggested tax hikes, a boost in the state income tax to generate between $500 and $735 million a year, which would cost the average family of four between $225 and $330 annually. Also proposed, a one percent hike in the state sales tax, to raise $750 million a year and a boost in restaurant meal taxes, which would raise an estimated $17 million in Boston alone.
Rep. Michael Festa (D) Melrose
"I will take votes to raise taxes."
Though there are legislators who'd raise taxes, the house speaker says there are not enough:
Rep. Thomas Finneran (D) House Speaker
"Taxes do seem to be off the table for most of the members of the house."
The reason is that voters have gotten through to Beacon Hill…
Rep. Thomas Finneran
"The public is filled with economic stress and anxiety and they just don't want to see any additional burdens put on them at this time."
And the governor, of course, is smiling. This is the day he delivered on his key campaign pledge…
Gov. Mitt Romney (R) Massachusetts
"There'll surely be some special interests that try and convince legislators to take a different direction and raise taxes, and I don't think that message is going to gain any traction. I think people want to see us streamline government and hold the line on taxes."
This afternoon, in a letter that reads like a surrender, the speaker asked the governor to "work alongside the legislature." The fact is, today, Romney ran over it.