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The Hiller Instinct

State of the State preview

Don't waste your time wondering which tax--or fee--the governor wants to increase. Because you already know he'll call for hiking one, or more, of them. And they all mean the same thing. Less money for you, more money for the state government.

So the words that keep going through my mind as I wait for the governor's speech are Bill Clinton's: "It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is."

Because tonight, it depends on what your meaning of the word "fair" is. How you define fair will define your reaction to the governor. Consider our commonwealth. What does that mean? How much of your personal wealth is it fair for Beacon Hill to take and spend for what it says is the common good?

Yesterday, as the governor was outlining his billion dollar education plan at a school in Boston, he asked, "To those who say we cannot afford that, I challenge you to show me which one of these four-year-olds we should leave behind."

That's a powerful, emotional argument that seems to have just one answer: No one should be left behind. So morally, we must spend what's necessary.

But what about finanically? According to the governor, his plans will create growth. But there's no evidence a state, or a nation, can tax its way to prosperity. There are limits on what government can do, so limiting its revenue is not immoral, it's logical.