The Fiscal Problem in Massachusetts

The Fiscal Problem in Massachusetts

The Fiscal Problem in Massachusetts

The Fiscal Problem in Massachusetts

Excerpt

The problem of living within their means is today a pressing one for both individuals and governments. In both cases a reduction of income has occurred or is feared; at the same time there is a manifest reluctance to reduce expenditures. While adjustment of expenditure to income can theoretically be made on either side of the account, the urge to curtail, or not to increase, expenditure is far less strong with governments than with individuals. Governments have greater ability than individuals to increase income through the power of taxation and are constantly being importuned to levy more or heavier taxes. Taxes cannot, however, be increased indefinitely. Always a burden on enterprise, taxation may become an intolerable load, destroying initiative and producing stagnation in the economic activities of the people.

These conditions make the fiscal situation of the federal and state governments one of serious import. To determine what it is best to do at a given time or in a given community cannot be decided alone by an appeal to general principles, but must rest in the first instance on a careful study of actual conditions and a thorough understanding of the circumstances of the situation in question. To furnish a basis for intelligent, constructive action has been the purpose of the National Industrial Conference Board in preparing studies of the fiscal problems of a number of states-- Wisconsin, West Virginia, Delaware, Illinois, New York, and Missouri--, to which it now adds the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. These studies give for each state a comprehensive survey of present conditions and of those of the recent past, in respect to public expenditures, public revenues, and public debt, as well as the needs of government.

Massachusetts presents both analogies and contrasts with other states. As elsewhere, there has been a growth in public expenditure in recent years, but not relatively so large as elsewhere, since Massachusetts, as a predominantly industrial commonwealth with a large urban population, had already in earlier years considerably expanded its public expenditure. The traditions of the state and its greater age have brought about a multiplication of educational . . .

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