GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

Opinion

September 30, 2013

Editorial: Lessons ooze from tech tax fiasco

State lawmakers have finally done the right thing with the so-called “tech tax.”

By an overwhelming margin last week, they finally agreed to toss it straight into the legislative trash bin, where it really belonged from the start.

Thanks to pushes from lawmakers like Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr and Rep. Brad Hill, the Ipswich Republican who represents Manchester, the full House and Senate leadership teams finally recognized that the ill-conceived tax proposal was such a debacle that, by the last 10 days, even Gov. Deval Patrick and legislative leaders were calling for the delete button, — retreating from a bill they had sought and justified for weeks.

Before there are any mass sighs of relief and shows of thanks from chambers of commerce and other business groups, however, let’s consider lessons that our State House office holders should all glean from all this.

This was, after all, a job-killing, economy-stalling policy that was so broadly and vaguely written that even the state Department of Revenue was unclear of its scope. And, as the debate wore on, it became apparent that those who had supported tacking the state’s sales tax into tech services never had a clear idea of what they were voting on. How sad is that?

There are positives in all of this. For one, the state’s business community raised its voice and took a collective stand, from Cape Ann to the Berkshires. For another, legislative leaders actually listened, and by last week’s votes, have essentially been forced to concede something they rarely mutter — they were wr-wr-wr-wr ... wrong!

The bottom line is that this ill-conceived tax is now off the books. But let’s hope all of our lawmakers got a real legislative wakeup call: Before you stick us with a bill, be sure you know its true impact. And let’s not let this embarrassing chapter of State House history be repeated.

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