Every tax is a pay cut.  Every tax cut is a pay raise.
Citizens for Limited Taxation

MTA barking up wrong tree Thursday, April 24, 2003
Author Metrowest Daily News
A group of workers that will receive some of the largest salary increases in the state next year is using some of its cash to launch a television advertising campaign calling for state tax hikes.

The tin-eared Massachusetts Teachers Association -- a statewide union funded by hundreds of dollars in dues from each of its thousands of members -- has begun airing television commercials after several weeks of radio ads.

"This is the first step," MTA president Catherine A. Boudreau told the Globe, "and when people realize the extent and depth of the cuts, the public will revisit their belief that you don't have to raise revenues."

There will be rallies on the State House steps calling for tax hikes, but the majority of the signs will be held by those whose jobs depend on public spending.

The "Stop Cuts -- Raise Taxes" rally planned for next Wednesday will draw hundreds of teachers and other government and quasi-government employees.

The rest of Massachusetts will be at work -- or looking for work.

The $2 million MTA advertising campaign is designed to soften up the public as the Legislature and Gov. Mitt Romney bring the state budget in line with the economic reality faced by most Massachusetts families: It's time to spend less -- or at least slow the pace of spending increases.

The free-spending 1990s are over, and the House budget released yesterday acknowledges that fact, cutting even deeper than the budget proposed by Romney.

The House's $22.5 billion plan includes $2.3 billion in cuts and $730 million in new revenue -- mostly in higher fees.

About 15 percent -- $9 million -- will be cut from the police salary-padding Quinn Bill.

About $170 million would be cut from higher education.

House Speaker Thomas Finneran wants to add a package aimed at attracting high-tech companies and jobs.  And the Speaker wants to reauthorize the investment tax credit to spur new businesses.

"The only way to find a cure for our current situation is to get the economy back on track," said Finneran.

The House plan accepts some of the reforms Romney has proposed, but rejects others, including the governor's plan to close the offices of University Massachusetts President William Bulger.

The House also would can Romney's plan to merge the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority with the state highway system.

Romney will now begin negotiations to salvage more of his cost-saving reforms, but the governor and House leaders are unlikely to be swayed by the MTA campaign for higher taxes, fewer cuts.

It is further unlikely that Massachusetts voters who overwhelmingly put Romney into office will now push in any great numbers for tax hikes, even as the impact of the cuts is felt in the coming months.

Towns have already absorbed state cuts and are planning for more.

The cuts are painful -- no one wants to see people, particularly young teachers, lose their jobs -- but tax hikes are off the table this year.

The House would cut $150 million from local aid -- about 4.6 percent. This is a good chunk, but not the "Armageddon" forecast by budget fear-mongers.

Town workers -- including teachers -- will be out of work.

At least one school -- Juniper Hill in Framingham -- will be closed.

These moves will come even as teachers and other municipal workers who will keep their jobs receive contract-mandated salary increases.

Given the futility of the effort, the MTA's $2 million would have been better spent keeping another 20 or 30 teachers in the classroom.

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