Like Barbara Anderson, I believe in limited taxation, though I know we would disagree on where the limit lies. Unlike the anti-tax crusader, however, I see tax justice as a matter of fairness, not taxlessness. Oddly enough, our differing philosophies are leading us to the same point: rejecting the bill now before the state senate.
The bill, according to The Globe, “would let cities and towns exempt seniors earning less than $60,000 a year from the overrides. Supporters say the bill is a tax break for seniors, but critics say it is just a way to help push through property tax increases.” Only a fool would think this bill was not created to make property tax overrides easier to accomplish.
I support the services the Commonwealth provides, and I recognize that tax dollars are needed to pay for them. But the property tax is a regressive, unfair tax, and regressive taxes are not progressive. Taxing property burdens the less well off, and it exacerbates existing inequalities between poor and rich towns. It’s no accident that towns like Longmeadow or Weston have better schools systems than those in Granby and Stoneham.
When I heard the Newton legislator Ruth Balser, a sponsor of the bill, pass the buck on a WBUR story, I almost went threw the roof Here’s what she said:
We at the state level can’t give as much local aid as we’d like to. So I think the legislature is trying to give as many tools for the tool box of municipalities as possible to help communities manage the structural deficits in a budget and the burdens placed on the taxpayers.
Structural deficits? Whose fault is that? The state legislature who doesn’t want to confront the issues facing the Commonwealth. Their cheap political answer: put pressure on cities and towns.
Tools in the toolbox? It’s time the state legislature and Bottleneck Sal DiMasi started to use some of the tools at their disposal. Close corporate loopholes without offsetting tax cuts. Let municipalities tax telephone poles. Consider a graduated income tax.
Tools in the toolbox! My word.