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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

No New Taxes = Taxes on You

“The House leadership is looking at Draconian cuts and potentially even taxes, but they’re not serious about reform… Just give us the budget we’ve asked for, and we’ll deliver the numbers over the coming year.” Governor Mitt Romney in The Boston Globe, April 15th.

If the Romney administration has hammered home one point during his candidacy and election, it’s that he won’t raise taxes. As a matter of fact, he’s promised to veto any tax increase that arrives onto his desk, regardless of the estimated $3 billion budget gap for the upcoming fiscal year.

UMass Boston students and faculty know how government makes up for not passing taxes in the face of a fiscal crisis. They pass the cost down to you, of course.

The UMass community has heard about the “re-organization” of our school system, and how tuition will be raised again, this time by $800. This increase, while technically not a tax, will have a larger effect on UMass students than any tax that might be levied on us. Our public higher education system is among the most expensive in the nation. Our faculty hasn’t received a pay raise in three years, even though they successfully negotiated a contract (that has yet to be funded by the legislature). To UMass community members, the “no new taxes” promise rings hollow when we’re faced with such problems.

It’s important to realize that we aren’t alone in our problems, and that we have an entire state that’s reeling from the blows that the Romney administration and State Legislature have hit us with. Consider this: 50,000 people have been thrown off of Medicare; hospitals, teen pregnancy prevention programs, drug abuse and HIV treatment centers, smoking cessation programs, and prescription drug and home care services for elders have been crippled by cutbacks; teachers are being laid off and schools are closing; environmental programs that clean up hazardous waste sites and provide clean air and water are being cut back; affordable housing and rental assistance programs are being slashed; and courts are being closed.

So what are large corporations that reaped huge benefits during the prosperous nineties doing to chip in, as our most vulnerable citizens have repeatedly been asked to do? The answer, in many cases, is as little as is legally possible.

In a March 19th article in The Boston Globe by columnist Steve Bailey, it’s stated that only “…one in three of the state’s largest employers pay the minimum state tax, or only $456, in 2000, a pretty good year for the economy and corporate profits. Meanwhile, the median family in Massachusetts paid $2,795 the same year…. In all, 17 firms paid less than the median Massachusetts family paid in income tax.”

Is there something wrong here? Why should corporations that make millions of dollars in Massachusetts pay the absolute minimum, while public education, Medicaid, and the cleaning of hazardous waste sites (no doubt another gift from our corporate citizens) be cut after being cut again and again? Isn’t it time to close corporate loopholes while our programs are being cut?

A broad coalition of stakeholders in the budget debate are involved, including health care groups, unions, environmental groups, religious groups, human services groups, community organizations, and many others. UMass students need to raise a strong voice to their representatives, and tell them why fee increases, un-funded contracts and cutbacks to essential services are a tax on the poor. To find out more information about the rally and the issues surrounding it, please visit www.cutnomore.org.

The author is a CPCS student and an organizer with the April 30 Coalition to Raise the Revenue and Stop the Cuts.