Talking with WBZ's Jon Keller about the Governor's proposal to raise big dollars by expanding the so-called bottle bill, DeLeo was unequivocal in his opposition to the proposal - and more broadly to any tax increase whatsoever. As quoted by the State House News:
"That's just another form of taxation and as I stated before it's my feeling of what will happen in the House budget anyways is there's going to be no discussion about any new taxes, no new fees, anything that looks like a tax will not be in the House budget," DeLeo told host Jon Keller.Now, there really can be no question about whether expansion of the bottle bill constitutes "anything that looks like a tax" increase. If the Gov gets his way, we'll pay thirty cents more for a six pack of Gatorade, or water, or juice, or any number of other beverages not already covered by the bottle bill. That money will go to the state coffers, unless we then collect up our empties and take them to a redemption center - something fewer and fewer people actually do with the ubiquity of curbside recycling.
So the bottle bill proposal is a tax increase proposal, giving lie (surprise!) to Governor Patrick's repeated assurances that he "has no plans" to increase taxes in the short term. Oh and don't go thinking Governor Patrick does not realize what he is up to, or that the bottle bill is an isolated exception to an otherwise solid promise. Again from the SHNS:
Asked whether the inclusion in his budget proposal of the bottle bill expansion as well as fees on auto insurance policies and a lifting of the telecommunication equipment property tax exemption violated his no-new-taxes pledge, Patrick called the initiatives necessary.Oh, well. So long as the initiatives are "necessary," never mind about that silly old campaign promise thing. At least he didn't say (yet) that the increases are the equivalent of a "cup of coffee" (you can bet if the debate continues, he will). "Modest assessments" seems to be the Governor's new buzz phrase of choice. Listen for it in the days ahead...
"We have a serious need to fund a cadet class in the state police and to do police training and the way we do that on the fire side is a modest assessment on property insurance," he said. "The way we're proposing to do that on the state police side is a modest assessment on auto insurance. It amounts to two bucks, $2.50 per policy."
Of course nobody who pays even the tiniest amount of attention believes Governor Patrick's periodic assurances about new taxes. When he says "I have no plans to raise taxes," there is always an unspoken clause: "... right now, at this precise moment in time." Most willing to change his plans, that Governor of ours. So it is not at all surprising that buried in a budget that Patrick assured us would contain no new taxes are at least three (and counting) tax hikes.
Even Patrick's comrades in the Beacon Hill Big Three understand that Patrick's "no plans" pledge is a laugh line. More SHNS:
Asked whether they thought there were provisions in Patrick’s budget that violated his no-new-taxes pledge, both DeLeo and Murray nervously looked at each other before erupting in laughter as they tried to decide who would field the question. “I’m not so sure of that,” DeLeo finally responded. “I think we’ll have an idea once we take a more thorough analysis of the whole budget. But again, I will say this. As far as the House is concerned anyway, the budget that will come out will not have any new taxes, no additional fees, or any other gimmicks in terms of raising additional revenue.”Erupting in laughter. High comedy, the notion of a Patrick budget without new taxes (he's never filed such a budget, by the way. Never). So nobody should be surprised that "no plans" morphed so quickly into "plans" (or maybe "modest plans"?)
The Speaker's words today are a different story. "No discussion" about "any new taxes." Or "new fees." Or even "anything that looks like a tax." Not even any "other gimmicks in terms of raising additional revenue"! None of those things, the Speaker assures us, will "be in the House budget.
Make a note of it, and check back in a couple of months (probably April) when the House produces its cut at the 2012 budget.