The pension problem has festered so long and grown so large that an equally large cash infusion may be the only near-term solution.
State-budgeted programs have been under the knife for years. It’s very unlikely enough fat remains to solve the problem without imposing profound hardships on our citizens and impacting the lives of hundreds of state and regional-university retirees who don’t have the luxury of a do-over.
A temporary increase in the state sales tax is a solution that is not only viable but possibly even acceptable to voters.
About 80 percent of the state’s general fund comes from income and sales taxes. Tinkering with the other 20 percent is neither fair nor adequate, whereas a two-cent increase in sales tax would generate over $1 billion per year.
That’s enough to keep us from digging an even deeper hole while buying time to find a permanent solution through tax and retirement-program reforms.
I think most voters feel an obligation to honor promises made and are willing to accept a tax increase to meet that obligation if the tax is temporary.
A temporary tax might even be considered palatable to those legislators that feel voting for a tax increase is essentially the equivalent to political suicide.