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Tax Fairness - A Candidate's Statement

by: scott_laugenour

Wed May 12, 2010 at 14:40:40 PM EDT

(The GRP candidates this year are going to make "tax fairness" a phrase that turns the conventional Republican-Democratic "debate" on its head. If you want truly progressive candidates and truly progressive taxes, go Green! - promoted by eli_beckerman)

It's called Tax Fairness.

State House News reported on May 11, 2010 that  Rep. Jay Kaufman, who chairs the Joint Revenue Committee, said he "hoped to pursue comprehensive reform" to the state tax code next session.   My election to represent the Fourth Berkshire District will help Rep. Kaufman's hope to become a reality.  Incumbents have been mostly silent - and therefore complicit - on the matter of unfair regressive taxation.

Tax Fairness is another reason for the voters in the  Fourth Berkshire District to elect the Green-Rainbow slate of candidates whom they will see on the ballot this November.

scott_laugenour :: Tax Fairness - A Candidate's Statement
The Committee Chair described state and local taxes as "regressive" under the current system, with low-income residents "paying the largest share of their income ... while wealthier residents pay less."  He called for a "difficult and adult conversation" about tax policy and plans a "listening tour to gauge the appetite for comprehensive reform."

Our tax system is unfair, both in the way public funds are collected and in how they are spent.  A challenge to the party establishment and election of new leadership is needed to correct it.  I am not sure whom he invites to his listening tours, but my own listening tour around the Fourth Berkshire District is well-underway.  I can report to Rep. Kaufman with confidence that the citizens to whom I speak at shops, food markets, bars, churches, town meetings, and at other community events clearly desire the kind of comprehensive reform he is perhaps too gingerly "gauging."  People know that the system of taxation is regressive; they also know that the disbursement of public spending is regressive:  those who pay the most as a percent of their income have their benefits squeezed.  The polarizing effect of regressive taxation was evident even when economic times were good; the effects are exasperated now as more essential services are cut.  Our tax system is hurting the health and vibrancy of our communities.

The observations I make while visiting Select Committee meetings and Annual Town Meetings are stark, and sometimes very sad.  Towns are given very little means to raise revenue beyond regressive property taxes.  This mechanism is unfair, already maxed out, and results in harmful cuts.  Schools, libraries, police/fire departments, public enterprises, and community centers are bitterly pitted against one another.  Many town offices are open just a few hours a week and agonize over all costs, including the costs of electing state officials.

Senate President  Therese Murray is looking for ways to plug a $3 billion budget gap for FY 2011.  We can do that and can achieve tax fairness when we elect new legislators, a new Governor, and a new Auditor.  The Green-Rainbow Party is offering voters a full slate of choices in the Fourth Berkshire District.  Jill Stein, Nat Fortune, and I look forward to sharing with the voters the details of our tax and budget solutions that will tip the scales in a fairer direction, for the future that we deserve.

Update:  here's a link to my 2012 campaign page on budget and tax fairness, which also has links to other related blogs.

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