Oh dear, as Lily Tomlin says “No matter how cynical I become, it’s never enough to keep up.” I have never understood why these people, who had to organize their own constituents to win their seats can’t figure out how to organize themselves, as constituents to Legislative Leadership and exercise the pwer they have to bring the Speaker and the Senate President over to some common sense.
Now, Senator Welch may have been referring to the fact that the House must originate a tax bill, but I assume he knows his Senate President has also spoken out against taxes as this article in the Worcester Telegram points out.
BOSTON — As a way to avoid deep cuts in human services, state Rep. James J. O’Day, D-West Boylston, laid out a proposal today to raise the state income tax rate to 5.95 percent with new exemptions that would hold lower-income residents harmless.
He also proposed to raise the rate on long-term capital gains from 5.3 to 8.95 percent, while eliminating the special 12 percent rate on short-term capital gains, so that all capital gains would be taxed at the flat rate of 8.95 percent.
Mr. O’Day’s call for the changes comes at a time when tax increases are extremely unpopular among the state’s top leaders. Gov. Deval L. Patrick, House Speaker Robert E. DeLeo, D-Winthrop, and Senate President Therese Murray, D-Plymouth, have all said they will not support tax increases as part of the state budget for fiscal 2012.
“This is a question of how we want to live,” Mr. O’Day told the Ways and Means Committee today in his testimony about the legislation he filed to raise the income tax rate from the 5.3 percent to 5.95 percent…..
“How do we want to live as a society? Do we want to live with 50 people in a class, with 100 fewer police on the streets in Worcester, fewer firefighters, hardly any community services or community housing for those with disabilities. That’s the issue,” he said. “If we go a step lower, we are going to be hurting a lot of people.”
Meanwhile Senator Jamie Eldridge is actually soliciting support from advocates testifying before his committee hearing about the “potential time bombs” of our deteriorating dams across the state. (From the Globe/State House News Service's Kyle Cheney)
Sen. James Eldridge (D-Acton), vice chair of the committee, wondered whether MOSES, an organization of 3,300 state engineers and scientists, would support a bill raising the income tax on high-income earners to raise $1.25 billion to offset additional budget cuts. The bill would also raise the state’s capital gains tax to 8.9 percent from 5.3 percent, while calling for exemptions for low and middle income seniors.
“We would certainly be in favor of some form of revenue to support the program,” said Joseph Durant, president of MOSES, who noted that the Office of Dam Safety saw its budget slashed from $1.4 million in fiscal 2008 to $410,151 the following year, a 71 percent reduction. This year, the office was funded at $290,000, and Gov. Deval Patrick has proposed funding it at the same level in the fiscal year that begins July 1. He noted that he was unfamiliar with the specific proposal Eldridge referenced.
Both Representative O Day and Senator Eldridge are two of a small but critical mass of Reps and Senators who are pressing their respective Leaders to give them a chance to have a full and fair debate on new taxes. So far they are hearing – no, no and no. But they are not quitting from gathering the support of their colleagues and creating a “buzz” around the State House.
Remember, the power of the Legislative Leaders rests in their ability to win their office at least twice – once from their district and once from their colleagues in their party caucus, and then again (and again) if there is any dissention –organized or unorganized –within the ranks of their caucus. (Just think of all the fun the so called “powerful” Speaker of the House in Congress John Boehner is having dealing with the new caucus of Tea Party members inside the usually pretty docile and disciplined Congressional Republican caucus.)
As Margaret Thatcher said “Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are– you're not. “
And nobody knows that better than Legislative leaders, who have to earn and re earn the trust and support of their Members every day in order to maintain their power.
crossposted on Hecate's blog at the Public Policy Institute.