Beacon Hill legislators have once again picked the pockets of taxpayers — and this time, it seems, they’ve made the pilfering permanent.
State representatives and senators alike voted Wednesday to override Gov. Deval Patrick’s veto of a $500 million tax hike aimed at funding improvements to the state’s roads and highways and propping up the woefully mismanaged Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.
The bill calls for a 3 cents per gallon hike in the state’s gasoline tax and makes future increases a certainty by indexing the tax to inflation. It also increases the cigarette tax by $1 per pack and applies the state’s 6.25 percent sales tax to computer and software services.
There is plenty of blame to go around here — and, please, hold any applause for Gov. Patrick. He had only vetoed the measure because he wanted a larger increase in the gas tax, which is particularly egregious in these times of already rising pump prices.
Lawmakers who approved the override — including Gloucester, Essex and Rockport state Rep. Ann-Margaret Ferrante — showed little concern for the state’s job market. The application of the sales tax to computer and software services will cost the state’s employers an additional $500 million per year, according to estimates from the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation. That will cut into profits in virtually every industry in the state, no doubt leading to lost jobs. And this comes at a time when the state’s unemployment rate and jobless rates for all four Cape Ann communities are again on the rise.
To their credit, State Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr and Manchester’s representative, Ipswich Republican Brad Hill, voted against this nonsense — taking rare stands behind Gov. Patrick in the process. But as usual, too few of their Beacon Hill colleagues followed suit.
Once again, a majority of our state lawmakers have failed the state’s taxpayers. And perhaps even scarier, no one seems the least bit surprised.