Jim Braude is a sharp guy who is used to political interviews and debates. Its not often that you see him getting schooled that way he is in this interview with Carla Howell over Ballot Question 3.
Question 3 would lower the state sales tax from 6.25% to 3% starting in 2011. Recent polls show the majority supports passing question 3 buy a small margin:
- Suffolk University Poll, Sept. 16-19: Yes: 51%, No: 42%
- UNH/Boston Globe Poll, Sept. 17-22: Yes: 46%, No: 43%
The sales tax is a regressive tax on the most vulnerable. The average worker in Massachusetts pays $688 in sales tax per year. The average family pays over $800 per year in sales tax.
Unlike income taxes, you still have to pay sales tax if you are unemployed. You pay it if you are disabled, retired or on public assistance.
With income tax, higher earners pay a larger proportion of their income in taxes. With sales tax, poor and middle class families pay a higher percentage of their income in sales tax. The more the state relies on sales tax the more it pushes the tax burden on those who can least afford it.
Braude tries to shift the debate not from the savings for tax payers but to the services that would be cut. He mentions that certain high schools on the South Shore are having to charge students to play a sport.
Carla almost starts laughing at him. I think a lot of parents can identify with this. We’ve seen our taxes raised – and services cut. We’ve seen teacher layoffs, the fee for full day kindergarten double, libraries closed, trash pickup reduced. All the while we’ve seen our taxes raised, and the overall state budget has increased.
Carla lays into Braude citing that the majority of local services are paid for by the towns themselves. Local aid accounts for 10% of local budgets. And local aid is itself a small percentage of the $50 billion dollar state budget. A cut to the income tax, which would create jobs and ease the tax burden on families which are already struggling, would not have to come at the expense of the local aid budget.
Braude cites that speaker DeLeo in a previous interview had implied that if the tax cut passes that the Legislature will not implement it. It is really infuriating how casually he says it – as if it were no big deal.