Thursday, February 17, 2011

Massachusetts - a tax cap that works

According to this editorial in the Buffalo News, New York should look to the successful Massachusetts tax cap enacted in 1980.  In a state formerly known as "Taxachusetts", tax rate growth has been sharply curtailed without appreciably affecting government services.

This should be of particular interest to New York residents who believe that our small municipalities and "boutique" school districts could benefit from economies of scale:
The Massachusetts cap also appears to have sparked fire agencies and school districts to merge, and assorted local governments to consolidate or share services. In New York, local governments only nibble around the edges when it comes to sharing services, and outright mergers are rare.
I wonder if Massachusetts had to implement mandate relief when it imposed its tax cap?


  1. I lived in MA when the tax cap was passed, and again in the 90's. We lived with a level of services (or lack thereof) which would be unacceptable in Westchester County. We had no trash pickup, so we had to contract with private haulers, who were all totally corrupt, to haul our trash every two weeks. The libraries in our area (Worcester) were shut much of the week due to lack of funds. I was always impressed that they kept their quality of K12 education up in the face of the tax cap, but I think that may have more to do with a relatively well educated population, and lack of extreme poverty. If you look at California, a state which is more like New York, you can see that education is a complete disaster there. Most of my friends in California send their kids to private school because the public schools are so overcrowded.

  2. I have no doubt that services will suffer if a tax cap is enacted. That wouldn't be so horrible for us because I think we currently get gold-plated (for the most part) municipal services, but I don't know about other places.