The petition to end the income tax in Massachusetts misses a lot of things, like inflation. But if we take at face value their claim that the government can continue to run with a 39% reduction in revenue, what do you think will get cut?
First, we’d have a hiring and wage freeze for all state government, of course. And state aid to individual towns would be gutted. Rich towns could then raise money themselves, but poor towns would start hurting.
At the same time, we’d probably start dismantling everything cultural the government does. State parks, say. Museums. Arts funding. UMass.
What little highway maintenance we do would probably just cease.
We’d cut community outreach for at-risk youth, and things like that summer jobs program for teens in Boston. We’d join Arkansas in failing to keep up with our flu prevention efforts. Any kind of AIDS and drug abuse prevention efforts, certainly. Everything helping the homeless and immigrants (they don’t vote, so why spend meager resources on them?) would have to go.
And of course any agency the legislature has a grudge against would get run over with a fine-toothed comb. Massport? The Turnpike authority? Everybody will be gunning for them.
Next, we could expect to see some new fees and fines. To make up for missing state aid, we’d see cities increase the cost of parking tickets. RMV fees would go up. General merchandise sales tax, excise tax, gas tax, cigarette tax, alcohol tax, licenses for filming, parking, special events, restaurant openings, inspections…. way up.
And they’d legalize all the gambling you could possibly imagine. You thing scratch-ticket fever is bad now? Wait til there’s a video poker machine in every bar in town. Or at least every bar in town that can afford the outrageous license fee.
I’d love to see the state legalize and tax prostitution and marijuana. That would both save money on jails and bring in huge amounts of revenue.
Far more likely, the legislature would pass a new law, reinstating the income tax exactly the way it was.