Would the Speaker like Ryan's Risk-Adverse Advice for Raising Good Revenue Streams? People are demanding answers to municipal budget collapses and the transportation system, so here goes.
- Solving the multi-faceted transportation mess: Pass a 20-25 cent gas tax, which would do enormous good and only cost the average car-driving taxpayer about $100 a year. Include money in that to get rid of most tolls (8-11 cents, with 10 or 11 cents getting rid of *all* of them) as well as public transportation (8 cents = $200 million). Make sure revenue from the gas tax is spread fairly throughout the state, whether it's closing tolls, paving roads or keeping the buses going.
- Helping cities and towns: 1. Close telecom corporate tax loopholes by allowing towns to tax Verizon for all its telephone polls, as they already do cable companies. 2. Get rid of most of the home-rule stuff, so towns aren't handcuffed. 3. Give munis the option to pass modest local sales taxes on hotels and restaurants (and maybe even more) at no more than 2%.
- Helping the State Budget: We can't just cut ourselves out of this current hole. We've made too many cuts already. At the very least, pass Patrick's candy and liquor tax proposals. Those seem like no brainers. They're also completely discretionary spending and thus a much fairer tax than a general sales tax. This is real low-hanging fruit stuff, but it would raise real revenue. Plus, why should cigarettes have a huge tax rate while alcohol isn't even hit with the state sales tax? Seems bizarre.
- Reasonable efficiencies to state government: Pass the Governor's harder-hitting pension reform proposals. Moreover, get major public-employee unions to the table with the Gov, Senate President and Speaker to talk fair ways to save money and jobs by switching to GIC or other regional plans in every single city and town where that makes sense. There's hundreds of millions to be saved there - and plenty of common ground to be had. Do it. It's the duty of our elected leaders to act like adults and get these unions to the table, so we can access these savings throughout the state.
Even the gas tax, combined with pension reform at our state's transportation authorities, would be tolerated by the general public with even the smallest of public awareness campaigns. Plus, even a 20 or 25 cent gas tax won't be noticed or thought of at length after a few months. Phase it in over a year or two and maybe no one notices at all?