By popular demand, we are pleased to offer a breakdown of the $985 million — nearly a billion dollars — of new taxes and fees that have been proposed by Mr. and Ms. “No New Taxes” since 2003. As Deval Patrick correctly stated in last night’s debate, the legislature rejected, or Romney/Healey later withdrew, approximately $200 million of these proposals. The total real-world impact of the new taxes and fees proposed by Romney/Healey: approximately $800 million annually.
And all of that, of course, doesn’t count the skyrocketing property tax.
Here’s the breakdown. (I asked the Patrick campaign if they had one, and they helpfully supplied it.)
And while we’re on the subject, let’s recall an excerpt from a Globe article that ran almost a year ago that debunks some of Mitt Romney’s — and hence Kerry Healey’s — more extravagant budget claims:
But his pitch [about how he closed an alleged $3 billion budget gap without raising taxes] includes some assertions and omissions that leave his audiences with an incomplete and, in some ways, inaccurate picture of what really happened here.
For example, the $3 billion budget gap Romney cites never materialized. It was a prediction the administration and lawmakers made shortly after Romney took office in January 2003. Even before Romney unveiled his budget proposal at the end of February 2003, the state Department of Revenue and outside analysts said the $3 billion figure was rooted in revenue projections that were much too low. They were right: Before the year was up, a windfall in capital gains taxes helped cut the $3 billion shortfall by about $1.3 billion.
The state got another half-billion dollars by raising fees and closing what Romney called loopholes in the corporate tax code. Many business leaders and antitax groups view the loophole closures as tax increases.
Romney also asserts that Massachusetts cut more state and local government jobs than any other state. That is true, but he had relatively little to do with the reductions, at least at the state level. Only 3,800 of the 11,200 state government jobs cut between January 2001 and January 2005 were eliminated during Romney’s tenure, according to the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In his out-of-state speeches, Romney suggests that the consolidation of state agencies was a major factor in closing the budget gap. But those changes saved relatively little money: Folding 16 human-services agencies into four, a change Romney often cites outside the state, saved about $7 million, according to the administration. Eliminating the Metropolitan District Commission saved about $3.5 million, according to the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, a business-funded nonprofit group that monitors state spending.
“No reform has saved any meaningful money. It’s all on the margins,” said Michael J. Widmer of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation. “They have no connection to the closing of the gap, even if they are good things, as some of them are.”
Romney also enjoys fibbing about how he didn’t cut education.
Romney’s proposed budget for fiscal 2004 included a slight increase in K-12 school spending — $25.4 million, or less than 1 percent. But the actual budget approved by the Legislature and signed by Romney cut K-12 school spending by $181.6 million, or 4 percent. The story is simpler for higher education: Romney proposed a cut of $100 million, or about 10 percent, and the final budget reduced it $112 million, or 11 percent.
Nonetheless, in North Carolina earlier this month, Romney said, “we didn’t cut education, despite this huge budget deficit. We said education is going to get protected.”
Then we get into some details on the tax and fee hikes:
For example, in his first year in office, the state increased hundreds of fees, making it more expensive to get a driver’s license, marry, or buy a house. Those changes, which he defends as limited in scope and long overdue, brought in an additional $260 million.
The new governor also collected an additional $255 million from businesses by closing what he called tax loopholes….
Noah Berger of the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, a frequent critic of the administration, defended the governor’s position….
But Joseph R. Crosby of the Washington-based Council on State Taxation, which monitors tax policy for 575 corporations, said it’s hard to discern the difference between Romney’s changes and tax increases.
We need to take it on ourselves to be armed with a lot of this information at the ready. When, for example, you call into talk radio — which you are going to do, right? — to defend Deval Patrick and question whether Kerry Healey has what it takes to lead this state, numbers like “nearly a billion dollars in new taxes and fees” are good numbers, and it’s good to have a breakdown handy if you get challenged.
UPDATE: Romney’s mad. Amazing how every time he sees his political future flashing before his eyes, he’s suddenly Mr. Engaged. I bet those Republican primary voters in Iowa and South Carolina wouldn’t be psyched to learn that Romney proposed raising nearly a billion dollars of taxes and fees.