Congressional Candidates on Ballot Question 3
Candidates running for 9th District seat in Congress discuss their opinions whether the state sales tax should be reduced.
In this series, Dedham Patch asks the three 9th District Congressional Candidates about certain issues of the day. The November 2 election will be between Congressman Stephen Lynch (D), Vernon Harrison (R) and Phil Dunkelbarger (I).
Do you support Ballot Question 3, which, if passed, would reduce the state sales and use tax rates (which were 6.25 percent as of Sept. 2009) to 3 percent as of January 1, 2011. If so why? If not, why not?
Vernon Harrison: I am in favor of any tax decrease. I think our government needs to learn how to spend less. Some solutions can be temporary. Tax increases right now with the way Americans are suffering would increase the burden and that is wrong and part of the problem with the economy.
Massachusetts is a microcosm of the federal government. We have out-of-control spending, multiple agencies (that do the same things) like the Turnpike Authority and the Massachusetts Highway Department, and then they turn to public after their behavior is so bad and outrageous, but we need you to pay for it. It is wrong they should be ashamed of themselves.
You and I both, the taxpayer pays for the mistakes that these guys make. This outrageous treatment is ridiculous. The government needs to learn to be more flexible and fluid. We implement these broad changes and put them in place and expect them to be timeless and they're not. We should do things in quarterly and year periods. The Bush tax cuts had a real end, and right now we should extend them. But there are times to not extend them.
Phil Dunkelbarger: No. The government is getting starved to death as it is. I'm talking about the state government, and a lot of that has to do with the federal government. Local governments are the least wasteful, and they're the ones that are getting starved the most. It's absurd that we're spending $7 billion a month in Afghanistan and laying off 40 teachers in Brockton. Granted, those are federal tax dollars going to Afghanistan, but it all comes back to the fact that it's not going back to the state. All that stuff is getting dried up and putting lower levels of government under tremendous pressure.
We have a slogan in this campaign – that nation building begins at home. We're going to have to start paying attention to our own citizens first. And people are hurting. The bottom line is that until we get the federal government act together, which is what I'm interested in doing, all of this business about trying to cut state and local government expenses is the wrong focus. It's the Federal Government that needs to be disciplined.
People are saving because they're scared. The extent to which they're not going out and buying things is because they're saving every cent they have, not because there's 1 percent or so more on the sales tax. People want to keep as much money as they can. Until we get our act together, that's the way it's going to be. It's a lot deeper of a structural problem in the economy than most people originally thought.