Editorial: Beacon Hill spending sprees must stop

Spending other people’s money is addictive, and unfortunately for Massachusetts, our state Legislature is hooked.

It’s with this understanding that we both applaud the business leaders calling on Beacon Hill to dial back expenditures, and fear that it won’t make any difference.

“The drastic increase in government spending over the past five years is a growing concern for our future competitiveness and may detrimentally impact the long-term fiscal health of Massachusetts,” the heads of nine business groups said in a letter to Gov. Maura Healey and legislative leaders released Tuesday by the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce.

As business leaders, they know that the actions of today affect tomorrow’s outcomes – the future of their companies and their workers depend on it. But for Bay State pols, today’s massive spending is but a precursor to tomorrow’s cash outlays meant to offset the damage.

State officials are ramping up the fiscal year 2025 budget process, and as State House News reported, the biz leaders are asking them to limit spending growth to the inflation rate and to revisit tax reforms if they determine that projected revenues will outpace inflationary growth.

Sound, responsible fiscal thinking. Good luck with that.

Total spending out of the state’s General Fund increased by 26.7% between fiscal 2018 and fiscal 2022, while the Boston area consumer price index grew at 14.7% over the same period, according to the letter.

“Massachusetts consistently is among the top 10 of states in per capita state and local expenditures. Yet the greater Boston area has some of the worst traffic congestion in the world, a failing public transit system, and ranks 43rd in the nation for fiscal stability according to U.S. News. Meanwhile, Massachusetts now ranks 46 in the country for its tax climate and 50th in the country for its Unemployment Insurance System.”

Those are not encouraging statistics, especially if you want the state to grow and thrive.

As the Herald reported, Massachusetts’s 12-spot drop to 46 for overall taxation was the steepest in the country.

“That means we are overtaxing our employers and our residents, both,” said Jon Hurst, president of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts. “To be in the bottom five states, it’s not a good sign to either our tax-paying families or to employers, current or prospective. We’ve got to work on this.”

Federal pandemic funding helped fuel the state’s bloated budgets, but the party’s over.

The revenue spike was an “historical aberration,” the business leaders said. Spending like the checks are still rolling in from Washington “is not sustainable and not responsible.”

We were warned before.  As the Herald reported, The Pioneer Institute crunched 2021 data from the IRS, and its analysis revealed that net out-migration from Massachusetts was speeding up and greatest among affluent residents paying the most in state taxes.

Beacon Hill is now wrestling with $250 million in funding for the state shelter system amid the state’s migrant influx, which continues to surge.

Gov. Maura Healey said it best, though she was referencing immigrants coming in to Massachusetts: “There are a lot of places in the country where people can go.”

Businesses, too.

Editorial cartoon by Chip Bok (Creators Syndicate)


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