MassFiscal wants to make sure you saw the latest budget put out by Governor Maura Healey. In short, revenues are down but spending is up.
She uses a lot of fuzzy math to promise more “free” stuff with no long term way of paying for it.
Gov. Healey is pushing forward many ideas that may sound compassionate but are in no way based in reality. After six months of below projected tax collections, as well as increasingly rising costs associated with the immigrant crisis, she was just forced to make budget cuts from the current operating budget. With future projections not particularly rosy, it’s a mystery why she plans to offer more free stuff.
Let look at her costly ideas.
Healey’s FY2025 Budget
The budget is not fiscally responsible as it draws on spending money that is normally routed to our state’s rainy-day fund, uses one time spending sources to fund items that will project beyond this fiscal year, and increases overall spending at a time when the economic outlook is uncertain.
The budget comes in at a whopping $58 billion. That’s $2 billion more than last year, or a 3.7% increase. This is all despite her recently being forced to make $375 million in emergency Chapter 9C cuts from last year’s budget. Her reckless spending plans include:
- Double funding support for MBTA operations, and deferred maintenance. Yes, this would throw more money at the MBTA, the troubled public transportation system with a long history of mugging the taxpayers
- Reduce MBTA fares for low-income riders by half (Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, favors doing away with fares entirely)
- Subsidize even more for bus transit
- Increase funding for local road and bridge repairs to record levels
- Expands low or no-cost preschool options
- Promises a five-year funding effort to address lagging student literacy rates by making appropriate reading materials available to more school districts (as if it were the reading materials that were the problem)
Now, you may be saying to yourself, spending taxpayer money on infrastructure and transportation is a good use of taxpayer money. Keep in mind, this is not Florida where they rebuilt a bridge in three days or New Hampshire, which doesn’t have a state prevailing wage law massively driving up costs. This is Massachusetts and under a Governor who’s six figure salaried state employees workforce grew by 25 percent last year and where administrative costs continue to drain available money for the tangible needs.
Some “free” programs the Governor wants to include:
- Free breakfast and lunches for public school students
- Start on a path to free universal pre-kindergarten by increasing child care funding
- Free community college for those 25 and over without a degree
- Emergency shelter spending is projected to reach $915 million this coming year but only $325 of that is included in the budget. $800 million will come out of a surplus spending account to cover costs for both this fiscal year and next, but the full cost has not been written into the budget, and there is an estimated $90 million funding gap left. That’s nearly a billion dollars, without any residency requirements added.
A very troubling development is the Governor’s decision to shut down the Concord men’s prison, claiming it was a fiscal decision to save the taxpayers money ($16 million annually). We are very skeptical. The legislature is poised to pass a new prison construction moratorium, they recently gave “free” phone calls to inmates, and there is a growing movement by some in the legislature to amend our state constitution to allow prisoners the right to vote. Its not hard to imagine this decision was ideologically driven and the Governor just caved to her far-left political base.
The icing on the cake is the Governor’s not so slick claim that she is not tapping into the rainy-day fund. Of course, some in the media did not question this claim and simply repeated the Governor’s propaganda. Anyone that spends a little time will realize this statement doesn’t add up. The Governor’s budget looks to reroute excess capital gains tax collections that typically go to the state’s rainy-day fund, to be spent on other budgetary items. Taking designated money away from the state’s raining day fund, is in fact, tapping into the rainy-day fund. The total steal from our state savings is $375 million.
In addition to her budget, the Governor also recently filed a bill that would allow municipalities to increase taxes on meals, hotels and motels, and vehicles.
- Municipalities currently tax motor vehicles by using a formula based on the vehicle’s value, which depreciates with age. Gov. Healey is proposing that they can opt into an additional 5 percent surcharge on top of the excise tax bill. When Prop 2 1/2 was passed, the taxpayer protection law reined in this tax, but Governor Healey is looking to chip away at the good work done by Prop 2 1/2.
- The legislation will also increase the maximum local option lodging tax on hotels, motels, and other rentals from 6 to 7 percent of the price of a room. For Boston, that would go up to 7.5 percent from 6.5 percent.
- The maximum local option meals tax would rise to 1 percent from .75 percent of the sales price of a meal at a restaurant or local store.
While we’re on the topic of taxes, Gov. Healey is creating a task force to study alternatives to the state gas tax as the transition to electric vehicles looms. Some options that have been discussed include congestion pricing, tolls, and a vehicle miles traveled tax (VMT.) These are all irresponsible ideas and will only further make Massachusetts more unaffordable.
And while not labeled a tax, she also proposed a new real estate transfer “fee” option for municipalities found in a $4 billion bond bill. The bill calls for allowing municipalities and regional affordable housing commissions to adopt a fee, ranging between 0.5 percent to 2 percent, that the seller of a property would have to pay on the portion of sale proceeds over $1 million, or the county’s median home sales price, which is greater. The idea is that the money collected from the fee would go towards affordable housing. Only in the mind of a big government politician can raising the cost of homeownership be a viable plan for affordable housing.
The next stop for these irresponsible ideas will be the legislature and we are following them all. MassFiscal plans to launch aggressive Call to Action campaigns to stop these irresponsible policies from making into the legislature’s budget. Stay tuned!