Citizens for Limited Taxation Thwacks
Charlie Baker Over Tax Increases

Printed from:

A leading Massachusetts anti-tax group is condemning Governor Charlie Baker’s support for an increase the state’s excise tax on property deeds, calling him “a disappointment.”

“Gov. Baker has an excuse for every betrayal,” said Chip Ford, executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation, in a written statement Tuesday. “He’s smooth, he’s slippery, and he’s sliding down the slope, seemingly a victim of Stockholm syndrome.”

Stockholm syndrome refers to hostages identifying with their kidnappers, as happened in Stockholm, Sweden in August 1973. The image suggests the Republican governor, who campaigned against increasing taxes before he was first elected in 2014, has come to identify with pro-tax Democrats on Beacon Hill.

Ford noted that Baker signed into law in June 2018 the so-called Grand Bargain, which includes an increase in the payroll tax designed to generate $800 million to pay for a new family and medical leave program.

At the time Baker justified the tax increase by saying it funds a new government program as opposed to merely providing more money for an existing government program. Ford finds that reasoning specious.

“Has the governor ever come across a tax hike that didn’t have some ‘benefit that’s attached’ for somebody? Every time spending is increased it benefits somebody, and every time someone benefits from government spending that benefit is paid by taxpayers,” Ford said in the statement.

But Baker isn’t even using that reasoning for the deeds tax, Ford notes. Instead, the governor acknowledged last week that the new excise tax will be used to increase funding for an existing program – “climate adaptation.”

“Over the last four years, we have increasingly witnessed the effects that climate change has on communities and infrastructure across the Commonwealth, and know that the investments we make today are critical to ensure cities and towns are prepared to face the challenges of tomorrow,” Baker said. “This proposal will build on the over $600 million we have already invested to mitigate and prepare for the adverse effects of climate change and help to build more resilient communities, and we look forward to working with the Legislature to get this passed.”

The governor’s office called the proposed appropriation an “investment” by state government in climate adaptation, to be paid for “by a modest increase in the excise on real estate transfers,” amounting to $137 million additional funds for the state’s Global Warming Solutions Trust Fund.

“For a candidate who campaigned on opposition to raising taxes and fees,” Ford said in the statement, “Gov. Baker has become – well, a disappointment.”