Ahem, look what they are trying to do next door in Massachusetts

While RI politicians continue to avoid dealing constructively and aggressively with the structural problems underlying the state’s financial crisis, some of our neighbors in Massachusetts are heading in the completely opposite direction.
Yes, in the state formerly known as Taxachusetts, a band of activist citizens are pushing for a statewide vote to eliminate the state income tax:

A group of antitax activists launched a campaign over the weekend to abolish the state income tax, setting the stage for a contentious public battle if the measure is added to the ballot this fall.
After pushing a similar initiative that almost passed six years ago, a group called the Committee for Small Government is back for another round, asking voters to end the income tax and save the average taxpayer $3,600 a year. The group, led by libertarian Carla Howell, is almost certain to gather the 11,000 signatures needed to put a question on the November ballot.
To say that state officials are worried about the prospect would be an understatement.
Community, political, and business officials are grasping for words such as “chaos,” “devastating,” and “catastrophe” to describe the scenario that would unfold if the measure passes.
Six years ago, Beacon Hill didn’t pay much attention to what seemed to be a pie-in-the-sky campaign. Confident that voters would reject the plan as folly, no one even organized a campaign to fight it.
But it almost passed, gaining the support of 45 percent of voters…
A fledgling coalition of city and town officials and union officials hired former Blue Cross Blue Shield executive and civic leader Peter Meade to head a battle against the income tax cut, and is interviewing high-powered public relations firms. Their Coalition for Our Communities plans a fund-raising and public educational campaign to combat the allure of the tax-cutting measure, which would cost the state roughly $12.7 billion – about 40 percent of the budget.
Some political observers are expecting a public tax battle the likes of which has not been seen since Governor Michael S. Dukakis was in office…

These are the kind of engaged, activist people I had in mind when I wrote earlier this week about the crisis in RI and how important it was for RI to have a coalition of citizens committed to change. Why do we almost NEVER hear of similar groups of people in RI?
On a concluding note, I got a chuckle out of Andy Roth’s words about the Massachusetts’ initiative:

I don’t know what I like more about this article. The fact that Massachusetts citizens are pushing for a repeal of the income tax, or the fact that bureaucrats are going bonkers with the prospect that they might succeed.

And how would raising taxes even higher in RI not incentivize further flight from the state by more residents?
In the comments section, Ken is kind to pass along the link to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) report entitled Rich States/Poor States: ALEC-Laffer State Economic Competitiveness Index. Key sections include the executive summary here and the section “America’s Economic Black Hole: The Northeast” on pages 15-18 of the report. The Rhode Island summary can be found here, where they describe the economic outlook as 48th out of the 50 states.
There is no “moderate” solution option left anymore; the entrenched special interests and politicians have made sure of that. The state is headed for collapse under the status quo. So we might as well throw the state into bankruptcy and restructure it with some logic.

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Tom W
Tom W
16 years ago

>>And how would raising taxes even higher in RI not incentivize further flight from the state by more residents?
Especially if the income tax repeal initiative passes!
Watch property values in Fall River etc. start surging – residential and commercial properties, that is – as comparable properties in RI start falling.
Leading to even further reductions in revenue for RI.
There’s such a thing as a “virtuous circle” … and its opposite.

16 years ago

Oh yes. The perfect storm of worst-case scenarios for RI lawmakers.
Hey, why don’t we have Voter Initiative again?
Oh yeah. Because it gives the people power.

16 years ago

“To get a feel for where RI state government has been and where it’s heading, The American Legislative Exchange Council, 1129 20th Street, N.W., Suite 500, Washington, D.C. 20036 has a very good report titled “Rich States/Poor States ALEC-Laffer State Economic Competitiveness Index”; copyright 2007 which tracks the states from 1990s up to 2007 policies, laws, taxes, budgets and spending.
I don’t know if you have read the link I provided and 114 page document fully, as I think Tom W obviously has, you would fully understand per report that lowering taxes encourages and is documented to facilitate state economic growth in times of budget deficits.
A no income tax state bordering RI would be a devastating blow to RI economy and recession recovery at this time.
Well at least there is 24 hour gambling thanks to the GA and maybe RI will get the projected $14 million where as all other estimates have been over stated!
Where’s the free unemployed soup line?

Citizen Critic
Citizen Critic
16 years ago

Massachusetts is considered the smartest state in the union, at least that is what the rankers say.
Vo Dilan? Hahahahahaha.

16 years ago

Only 48th out of 50? I take issue with that. Let’s raise sales and income taxes some more so we can get the Progressive Dunce award and move to 50!!!!

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