Monday, April 21, 2008

Oh NO, Mass voters might, gulp, vote for lower taxes


BOSTON — In November, Massachusetts taxpayers will be asked if they want to vote themselves a tax cut of more than $3,000.

State lawmakers are worried the answer will be "Yes."

A ballot question would let voters abolish the state income tax. While the proposal has largely flown under the radar, Beacon Hill lawmakers and budget watchdogs are concerned the climate is right for it to pass — with disastrous consequences, in their view.

The Coalition for Small Government, which is behind the ballot question, says ending the state's 5.3 percent income tax would be anything but bad. About 3 million taxpayers would save on average $3,600 a year, according to the ballot question's sponsors. The state Department of Revenue uses a slightly lower figure — $3,180 — based on the "typical" taxpaying family of three that owns a home.

Carla Howell, the leader of the Coalition for Small Government, and a one-time Libertarian candidate for governor, said the question isn't just about voting for a tax cut. It's about a fundamental overhaul of state government.

"It will take $11 billion out of the hands of Massachusetts big government and put it into the hands of men and women who earned it," Howell said.