Hacks can’t help selves on taxes

Sometimes when something really bad used to happen at the State House, I would ask the late Bob Crane why anyone would do something that stupid, and he always had the same answer:

“They can’t help themselves.”

They buried Bob in Wellesley yesterday, but nothing has changed on Beacon Hill. They still can’t help themselves.

On Monday, after the weekly sit-down of the governor and the legislative leadership, House Speaker Bob DeLeo, the unindicted coconspirator, was asked if new taxes were on the table in FY 2019.

“Much too early to discuss that at all,” he snapped.

Really? DeLeo said this a few days after the state Department of Revenue (DOR) announced that December tax collections came in $527 million above what they had estimated. For the whole month, the Commonwealth collected more than $3 billion in taxes – in other words, over $100 million a day.

Six months into the fiscal year, state tax collections are running $728 million above estimates for the year.

But grabbing $100 million a day is not enough, apparently. It never is. Because these hacks have a disease. They are taxaholics, and they need a 12-step program of their very own. They could have meetings, but they would need a big room, probably Gardner Auditorium.

“One tax is too many,” the payroll patriots could all chant together, “and a thousand are not enough.”

So they’re not ruling out more tax increases, and this is even before the scheduled referendum question on the statewide ballot in November asking the voters to impose a graduated income tax on themselves.

In the hackerama, this proposal is described as a “millionaires’ tax. But rest assured, if it passes, by 2021 at the latest you will be defined as a “millionaire,” at least for the purposes of paying state taxes, even if you only make $40,000 a year.

Five times in the past the hacks have tried to bamboozle the taxpayers into picking their own pockets. Five times they have failed. But it’s never over until the hacks win, and this time could be the charm. They’re not making voters as smart as they used to, in case you haven’t noticed.

If the hacks succeed in jacking up the state income tax from 5 to 9 percent, do you suppose a lot of the “millionaires” of Massachusetts have some contingency plan?

Like, say, moving?

Consider the strange case of Connecticut. The Nutmeg State’s politicians can’t help themselves either. They’ve been jacking up taxes right and left for years, and the darnedest thing has happened.

The supply of “millionaires” is failing. Go figure.

Last week, the Hartford Courant reported that last year alone 7,944 Connecticut tax-filers fled to Florida. Their average income: $253,187 a year.

Connecticut’s top tax rate is 7 percent. Florida’s is zero. Hmmm, why would all these Connecticut residents suddenly pick the same state to move to?

New Jersey has an even higher top tax rate – 8.97 percent. Meet David Tepper, a hedge-fund billionaire, who lives in the Garden State, or did, until he realized that when you make $3.5 billion a year, which he did in 2013, it might be prudent to relocate to a state with no income tax.

As the Republican leader of the NJ legislature said, “Who can blame him?”

This one guy Tepper moves to Miami Beach, and The New York Times estimates he may have put a $300 million hole in the New Jersey state budget.

But these are just “anecdotes,” as Deval Patrick used to say. Just because they’re voting with their feet in NJ and CT, our “millionaires” won’t dare leave the, uh, Hub of the Universe.

Gov. Charlie “Tall Deval” Baker basks in his allegedly high favorability ratings. Apparently, they never poll any MBTA commuters, who are suffering through yet another winter from hell. The new revenues will be spent wisely, on education and transportation. The money will be earmarked, wink wink nudge nudge.

Just ask Senate President Stanley Rosenberg – oh that’s right, he’s not the president anymore. He’s been banished to the State House basement, that bourne from which no traveler does return. Because this is the way it always ends on Beacon Hill.

They can’t help themselves.

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