Hey Mr. Speaker, how're you going to pay for the free lunch?

In the wake of stories about the House Speaker's credit card, which in January alone paid for more than $11,000 in meals, the Boston Globe this week dragged out an old term that's looking more and more apt: Taxachusetts.

Seems like even the limited budget debate Speaker DeLeo allowed meant the bloated bureaucrats on Beacon Hill worked up an appetite. Nobody outside of the Golden Dome knows exactly how much was spent during budget debate for food for lawmakers, though, as the House is exempt from the disclosure laws that apply to most state agencies.  

You'd think these guys would brown-bag it the way the rest of us do. The state faces a $462M budget shortfall, and as you know, Massachusetts law says the budget must be balanced but it can carry over debt. 

That's where the Taxachusetts talk comes in. Spending is out of control, and the desperate Legislature is looking for any solution, short of tightening their collective belt. That Boston Globe story mentions a few of the brainstorms brewing:  

  • Prop80, the graduated income tax which increases taxes by 80% on the state's highest earners
  • A brand-new health care tax on employers to cover MassHealth overspending 
  • A big increase in the marijuana tax
  • A service tax
  • A surtax on sugary drinks
  • A tax on AirBnB 

For most of us, there's no such thing as a free lunch. For Massachusetts Legislators, the trick is, finding someone else to foot the bill.

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