Thursday, January 29, 2009

Dear Governor Patrick,

Our state seems to be at a bit of an impasse. We have a massive budget problem and a Governor who isn't willing to raise taxes to close that gap. For decades now, both at the national and state level, whenever there's budget gaps, we've been cutting things to close them. We never get the core services that we slice back. They're just gone. Why? Because people on the fringe right, who are unfortunately effective at controlling the media's dialogue, have been successful in turning "tax" into a bad word.

What frustrates me, though, is that it wasn't a word you ran away from during the campaign - and that's a great part of why you were able to win a tough primary and competitive general election in landslides. Why, now, are you running away from it? As today's Globe story indicates, you're afraid to do what's necessary to avoid cuts to the bone in our budget. That's not acceptable -and it's not helping you win votes, either.

Instead of doing the right thing, winning and losing a few votes at the same time, you're getting the worst of both worlds: you're pissing off the mature adults out there who are willing to pay for services at the very same time that you're losing the few of the least-common-denominator votes out there who see you raising RMV fees and think this Michael Dukakis 2.0. Ignore those people - you're not going to win their votes anyway. Stop pursuing policies that try to have it both ways: increasing fees is exactly the same thing as a tax hike and it's dishonest to pretend anything different. Be honest and upfront. There are plenty of people, of all political stripes, who are waiting to support the governor that's actually going to do something to save their school and library. So far - and I mean no offense - you just haven't been that Governor, but you still have time to make it right.

We need to raise taxes - but do it the right way, not the dishonest Mitt Romney way. What you should be afraid of next election is in keeping your base happy. They got you there to begin with; they'll be the people who will get you reelected. But any member of the base who sees a school in their town close probably isn't going to vote for you - much less volunteer. Raising income taxes won't lose you votes in this crowd, it may just save them. So, while some of your measures were sensible - especially the bottle deposits - let's skip the increased fee hikes, excessive cuts and, most importantly, be honest with ourselves. Raising income taxes is the fairest, most transparent way possible to save this state. In 2006, we voted for change, not the Mitt Romney School of Governing. So please remember that the people of this Commonwealth don't expect miracles, just a Governor who is willing to level with them and engage with them to solve our common problems.

Yours Truly,

P.S. I really don't want you to be a one-term governor, but if you keep following down this path, I fear you may be.


Anonymous said...

Ryan, just curious. I know you've mentioned how you don't make much money running this blog just a few cents when people click on an ad. Do you have to report this on your income tax though? I know there is a dilema about charging sales taxes on Internet stuff, but this seems to be the emerging landscape and may provide states with increased income through taxes on sites, sales, income etc.

Ryan said...

Yup. First thing you have to do when you sign up for google ads is the same thing you'd have to do after getting hired for any job. Sign those tax forms =p I don't actually try to make any money for the site, but it is nice to help offset some of the expenses now and then.

As for internet sales taxes, I think that's absolutely fair. A lot of stuff is already taxed - if you buy something from and it's shipped to your house, for example. As long as they don't tax internet sales anymore than they do regular sales, it's sensible policy. I think if that nat'l bill passes that would require state taxes on internet sales to be paid to the individual states it would amount to something like $300 million for Massachusetts, if I can remember correctly - not too shabby. This will become increasingly important as online sales becomes an increasingly large player in the years ahead. Internet sales were up a few percentage points this year over retail, despite the economy.

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