In the centuries since its capital was dubbed the Cradle of Liberty, Massachusetts has decayed into a nest of Puritanism brimming with monarchical arrogance and colonial pretensions. Its corrupted culture breeds scolds, meddlers and progressive tyrants with a boundless evangelical zeal to reform — and tax — the great, unwoke masses. And every time they look north to New Hampshire, they see land ripe for colonization.

In 1976, Massachusetts sent tax agents onto New Hampshire’s sovereign (and sacred) territory — our liquor store parking lots — to intimidate its own residents into paying taxes on the “use” of N.H.-bought liquor. 

In 2009, Massachusetts tried to force Town Fair Tire stores located in New Hampshire to collect and remit Massachusetts sales tax on tires bought by residents of the Bay State.

In 2018, the U.S. Supreme ruled in Wayfair v. South Dakota that states could collect sales taxes on purchases made remotely in other states, a practice Massachusetts had been striving to pioneer. 

Now, in 2020, Massachusetts has determined that it can and will collect income taxes on New Hampshire residents who work from home for Massachusetts-based employers, provided they are working from home to comply with the Bay State’s own coronavirus emergency order. 

In each of the cases before 2020, New Hampshire officials fought back. 

Gov. Mel Thomson sent state troopers to the liquor stores to harass Massachusetts tax collectors. 

Gov. John Lynch declared that Massachusetts wouldn’t turn our businesses into its tax agents, and legislators passed a law to that effect. 

Gov. Chris Sununu said in 2018: “If they think we are just going to take this without a fight, well then they have another thing coming” and called a special legislative session to protect New Hampshire businesses. Legislators failed to act, only later passing a watered down law, sadly. 

But now, the reaction is not nearly so bold. Gov. Sununu announced an investigation, and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Dan Feltes issued a joint statement with Senate Finance Committee Chairman Lou D’Allesandro that reads like a petition to the king from two submissive courtiers. 

Feltes and D’Allesandro write that “we respectfully encourage you to withdraw the tax rule change penalizing New Hampshire residents who now work remotely due to COVID-19.”

Respectfully encourage? Massachusetts is reaching over our border to tax our residents’ income. For a state with no income tax, that cannot stand. Things that cannot stand must be stopped, not asked politely to please consider no longer standing.

As tax attorney Bill Ardinger told New Hampshire Journal this week, Massachusetts is on shaky legal ground here. Even if Massachusetts revenue officials had a stronger legal case, New Hampshire should challenge it immediately on the elementary grounds that New Hampshire residents working in New Hampshire owe not one red cent to the Colonial Empire of Massachusetts.

And any Massachusetts pooh bah who says otherwise can take a swim in the Charles. 

Massachusetts’ long history of aggression against New Hampshire’s sovereign territory leaves no doubt about the proper action. New Hampshire needs to punch it in the face and tell it to scram. (Metaphorically, of course.) 

No one will defend New Hampshire but New Hampshire. And there’s only one way to do it: swiftly and forcefully. 

After 45 days of study, the governor’s Commission on Law Enforcement Accountability, Community and Transparency on Friday recommended that New Hampshire spend a lot more time studying police practices and accountability. 

The anti-climactic report did contain some immediate action items, including:

  • Increase the N.H. Police Standards Training Council staff 
  • Abolish the part-time police academy; 
  • Create memoranda of understanding between school districts and law enforcement agencies that would guide the behavior of school resource officers;
  • Standardize the state’s required annual police training;
  • Double the minimum hours of annual training and including issues such as bias and diversity and use of force training;
  • Increase scenario-based training;
  • Provide the Ethical Policing is Courageous (EPIC) and Active Bystandership Law Enforcement (ABLE) training developed by the New Orleans Police Department;
  • Adopt uniform training for SWAT teams that includes mental health and de-escalation training;
  • Adopt nationally accepted standards for school resource officer training.

However, the report stopped short of recommending broader reforms such as repealing laws that grant police immunity from civil lawsuits, barring union contracts from including procedural protections not afforded average citizens accused of crimes, making police discipline files public, and mandating the use of body cameras. 

It’s surprising and disappointing that such relatively obvious and uncomplicated fixes, some of which we recommended in our police reform proposal this month, were left out.

The commission recommended further study of six issues, including the collection of non-biased data during police interactions, the use of qualified immunity, the use of choke holds, and the provision of mental health service responders instead of law enforcement for 911 calls.

To pursue the ongoing study of these important issues, it’s critical that the state lean heavily on community members who do not have law enforcement backgrounds. There’s a real risk that study committees peopled largely with law enforcement professionals would lack the outside perspective necessary to conduct impartial and unbiased reviews. Law enforcement input is essential, but it should not dominate the process. 

The published record of the commission’s work reveals that members affiliated with law enforcement offered informed and insightful proposals for improving training and standards. Without their input, these positive reforms might have been overlooked. Yet many of the more aggressive proposals for achieving large gains in accountability were made by members not affiliated with law enforcement. Unfortunately, a lot of those proposals were not included in the commission’s final report. That leaves a large opening for lawmakers in next year’s session and for local governments starting this summer.  

If you want to become a police officer in New Hampshire, you have to undergo 684 hours of training at the N.H. Police Academy. That’s less than it takes to become a licensed barber, and less than half as long as to become a cosmetologist. 

Most people probably don’t think of police as being subject to occupational licensing, but that’s what the training and certification process amount to. And the level of training required to become a police officer is much less than is required for people entering many other occupations, none of which carry a gun and have the authority to use lethal force.

State law requires barbers to have 800 hours of training at barber school or 1,600 under the supervision of a licensed barber. We could be wrong, but we’re pretty sure no one’s ever been gunned down on the street by a hair dryer.

To become a cosmetologist requires “1,500 hours of training in a school of cosmetology” or 3,000 hours over two years under a licensed cosmetologist. 

That is, it takes 220% more hours of training to become a licensed cosmetologist in New Hampshire than it does to become a police officer. 

It takes a bachelor’s degree and 900 internship hours to become a licensed dietician.

It takes a four-year degree and three years of supervised professional experience to become a landscape architect. 

It takes 600 hours to become an esthetician, just 88 percent of a police officer’s required hours.

Either the required training period for police officers is low, or that of many other licensed occupations is far too high. Or both. 

One prospective to keep in mind when thinking about these requirements is that the state has an interest in maintaining a relative low barrier to entry for police officers. It’s hard enough to recruit officers in some communities. Raise the bar too high and artificial shortages will result.

Established and licensed occupations, on the other hand, have a strong incentive to erect high barriers to entry to reduce competition and artificially inflate wages. They regularly petition the Legislature to increase licensing requirements to produce these two effects. 

Additional hours of police training may or may not be needed. But when those hours are compared to training requirements in other occupations, it’s obvious that the discrepancy cannot be explained by the relative danger to the public posed by the particular occupation. The state needs to do more than rethink police training requirements. It needs to rethink the way it approaches all occupational license requirements.

Gov. Chris Sununu signed a bill this week to make permanent the emergency changes expanding telemedicine services. The restrictions on telemedicine were not primarily to protect patients. They were to protect medical providers from competition. When the state makes it illegal to see a Boston doctor via video, patients have to see their local physicians. 

Prohibitions on the practice of telemedicine are an extension of occupational licensing laws. Everyone knows you have to have a state medical license to practice medicine. But licensing laws also have prevented people from consulting online with doctors who are licensed in other states, even though technology makes this easy.

The percentage of occupations that require a state license has exploded, going from about 5% in the early 1950s to about 20% today. Economists have suspected that the growth in state occupational licensing laws has contributed to the decline in American mobility. If you’re licensed in one state, moving to another state can mean starting the licensing process all over again, as many states don’t recognize other state licenses. 

A study published this week by the National Bureau of Economic Research supports that theory, concluding that licensing could account for about 8 percent of the decline in mobility. 

Researchers Morris Kleiner of the University of Minnesota and Ming Xu of Queens University studied occupational license requirements in U.S. states from the 1980s through 2016. They found that “licensed workers are 24% less likely to switch occupations and 3% less likely to become unemployed in the following year.”

As they wrote, “occupational licensing has a strong and negative effect on worker labor market flows, but is associated with higher wage growth, whether a worker is staying in a licensed occupation or switching into a licensed occupation.”

The connection to higher wages has been well established. When the state erects a large barrier to entry for an occupation, thus restricting the supply of practitioners, compensation for that occupation rises. Who pays for that? Consumers do. And the costs outweigh the benefits.

“Existing studies have yet to find a definitive link between licensing restrictions and their stated purpose of improving service quality,” Utah State University researchers concluded in 2018. 

Though improved quality is not evident, the barrier to entry created by licensing laws is significant. Kleiner and Xu find that “occupational licensing represents a barrier to entry for both unemployed workers (1.2% lower entrance rate) and workers who enter from other occupations (24.1% lower entrance rate).”

So not only are occupational licensing laws increasing consumer costs without demonstrating improvements in service quality, they’re also harming the broader economy by reducing economic mobility. 

This hurts New Hampshire, which relies on migration for economic and population growth. New Hampshire has the second-lowest fertility rate in the nation (behind only Vermont). A UNH Carsey Institute analysis of Census data earlier this year showed that New Hampshire would have lost population in recent years were it not for people moving here from other states. 

Occupational licensing laws, both in New Hampshire and elsewhere, make it harder for people to move here and to find work if they do. That has a negative effect on our economic growth. 

We can add this to the long list of reasons why lawmakers should reform the state’s occupational licensing laws. 

Cigarette smokers and flavored tobacco scavengers from Massachusetts produced a surge of New Hampshire tobacco tax revenue that almost single-handedly prevented a business tax increase, preliminary, unaudited state figures suggest.

State tobacco tax collections rose significantly in March, April and June, putting tobacco tax revenue $14.5 million (7.3%) higher than budgeted and $13.7 million (6.9%) higher than last year, according to the Department of Administrative Services’ June revenue report. 

Revenue from the federal tobacco settlement was $2.9 million above plan, for a total tobacco-related increase over budget projections of $17.4 million. Preliminary, cash figures suggest that the state missed triggering an automatic business tax hike by $15.35 million. 

In the last state budget, lawmakers included a provision that would trigger automatic business tax hikes if state general and education fund revenue fell at least 6% below projections. Based on June’s cash figures, revenues appear to have fallen 5.4% below projections. These are preliminary figures, however, and are subject to revision when adjustments are made based on the state’s later, more thorough accounting of the year’s revenues.

If these figures hold, business owners could reasonably thank smokers and Massachusetts lawmakers for helping to prevent those automatic tax hikes. Tobacco tax revenue was 34.6% above budget in June, 34.9% above budget in April, and 10% above budget in March.

Department of Revenue Administration staff say those increases are most likely caused by smokers stocking up for the first lockdown and in anticipation of a second lockdown, combined with Massachusetts residents crossing the border to buy flavored tobacco. 

Massachusetts banned the sale of flavored tobacco products, including flavored snuff and chewing tobacco, effective June 1. In addition to a cigarette sales surge, state tobacco tax data show a large increase in smokeless tobacco sales, particularly snuff, in June. 

Sales of what the state classifies as “other tobacco products,” meaning everything excluding cigarettes and premium cigars, have spiked in recent months, surpassing 7% of all tobacco sales in June. 

A sizable portion of that is likely related to the Massachusetts ban on flavored tobacco products. In addition to flavored smokeless tobacco, the ban also includes menthol and other flavored cigarettes as well as flavored vaping products. 

New Hampshire budget writers expected to supplement state revenues this year by applying the tobacco tax to electronic cigarettes. Last year, legislators expanded the tobacco tax to cover e-cigarettes, even though there is no tobacco in e-cigarettes. 

The tax went into effect on January 1, but it has produced less revenue than expected. By the end of the state’s 2020 fiscal year on June 30, taxes on e-cigarettes had generated just $1.2 million. 

Legislators budgeted $5.7 million in revenue from e-cigarette sales for Fiscal Year 2021, which began on July 1. Based on the first six months of collections this year (covering the final half of Fiscal Year 2020), that projection seems unrealistic. Collections so far suggest that the state could expect to bring in less than half what it projected to take from e-cigarette sales in FY 2021.  

On June 30, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue that states cannot exclude religious institutions from participating in school choice programs. New Hampshire has a similar scholarship program and a similar constitutional provision to the ones that were under discussion in the Espinoza case.

On July 8, the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy presented an online discussion of the case and its impact on New Hampshire, featuring two experts on the question of religious liberty and alternative education.

Tim Keller, senior attorney for the Institute for Justice, was a co-counsel for the plaintiff in the case.

Kate Baker is executive director of the Children’s Scholarship Fund N.H., which administers a New Hampshire tax-credit scholarship program.

In a webinar for the Josiah Bartlett Center, they explained the Espinoza ruling and its effect on New Hampshire.

We posted the video of that discussion on our newly resurrected YouTube channel here.

 

On Monday, the Josiah Bartlett Center reported on our website (which you should read religiously because you’re smart and you want to drop impressive knowledge on unsuspecting strangers at cocktail parties, whenever we can have those again) that preliminary state revenue figures suggest there won’t be automatic business tax hikes for the 2021 fiscal year. 

The key word there is “suggest.” A business tax increase is still a possibility, if a remote one.

Last year’s state budget contained a provision that would trigger a Business Profits Tax increase of 2.6% and a Business Enterprise Tax increase of $12.5 percent if state General and Education Fund revenue fell at least 6% below projections. 

State collections for June, the final month of the fiscal year, show that General and Education Fund revenues fell below plan for the year by 5.4%. But the June report is based on cash collections as of the end of June. The numbers are always adjusted later, and the totals are not final and official until the audited financial report is released in December. 

We looked back at state revenue reports through 2007 (the last year for which reports are posted online) and found five years between 2007 and 2019 in which there was at least a $20 million difference between the June cash report and the final audited revenue figures.

The differences are as follows:

2008: $20.4 million

2010: $78.5 million

2012: $27.2 million

2016: $67 million

2019: $-25.1 million

Only in 2019 was the audited figure lower than the June cash figure, and most of that change (more than $16 million) was attributable to business tax refunds. But there was a drop of about $9 million not related to tax refunds. 

If the final, audited General and Education Fund revenues for FY 2020 are lower than June’s reported revenues by $15.35 million, the tax increases would be triggered. 

That would be an unusually large drop, but it’s not unprecedented. Businesses face the prospect of spending the next six months in tax-rate limbo, which can affect hiring and other spending plans. 

If you’re uncertain whether your taxes are going to go up, you’re more likely to save cash and avoid hiring, especially since payroll makes up the largest share of the Business Enterprise Tax, which is scheduled to rise by 12.5% if the revenue trigger is met. 

Legislators had the chance to remove this uncertainty and repeal the tax-hike trigger. But, hoping for a tax increase, they refused. 

We’ll have a better idea of the situation in a few weeks, when the state releases June preliminary accrual report. That’s a follow-up report to the June cash report. It includes a fuller financial picture and tends to be much closer to the final, audited report released in December.

For now, business owners and managers should keep the celebrations on hold.  

New Hampshire businesses will not suffer automatic tax hikes early next year, new figures released by the Department of Revenue Administration suggest.

A provision in last year’s state budget would have triggered automatic business tax increases if general and education fund revenue fell at least 6% below projections for the 2020 fiscal year. The newly released numbers for the end of the 2020 fiscal year show a 5.4% decline.

Had revenue fallen another $15.35 million, the tax hikes would have been triggered. But higher-than-anticipated collections from the tobacco tax ($14.5 million), insurance taxes ($9 million, the lottery ($2.9 million) and the tobacco settlement ($2.9 million) slowed the decline and kept revenue from hitting the -6% trigger. 

Though interest and dividends revenue for the year was 6.8% less than projected, an $11.7 million increase this June vs. last June helped slow the overall revenue slide.

The numbers are not final until audited at the end of the calendar year. Still, these official but unaudited numbers offer some much-needed good news for New Hampshire employers.

“If this holds true after the audited figures have been released, every business in New Hampshire will have dodged a bullet.” Jim Roche, president of the Business and Industry Association, New Hampshire’s statewide chamber of commerce, told the Josiah Bartlett Center. “With all the struggles businesses are experiencing as they come back from the COVID-19 pandemic, higher taxes are the last thing they need.”

“Legislators should have taken this tax-hike trigger off the books when employers asked,” Andrew Cline, president of the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy, said. “Instead, legislators gambled with the livelihoods of many small business owners and their employees. Though employers seem to have gotten lucky, they should’ve been able to rely on their legislators, not Lady Luck.” 

The numbers are contained in the Department of Revenue Administration’s June Monthly Revenue Focus report, which tallies the state’s revenue for June and for the entire fiscal year, which ended June 30th. 

The report shows business tax revenue to be 14.6% lower than projected. The Business Profits Tax was down 14.7% and the Business Enterprise Tax 14.3%. 

The Meals and Rentals Tax was 11.6% below projections, and the Interest and Dividends Tax 6.8% below. 

The Tobacco Tax posted a 7.3% gain over projections, and the Insurance Tax a 7.2% gain.

A surge in Tobacco Tax revenue is particularly notable. The June report notes a 56% increase in tobacco stamp sales (which means cigarettes) in June 2020 vs. June 2019. The state saw a similar spike, of 50%, in March. 

When compared to the 2019 fiscal year, 2020 general and education fund revenues fell by 7 percent, with business taxes leading the decline.

The state experienced a 19.3 percent drop in business tax revenue from 2019, with Business Profits Tax revenue falling by 16.5% and Business Enterprise Tax revenue falling by 23.6%. 

Meals and Rentals Tax revenue was down 6.5% from 2019, and proceeds from the Interest and Dividends tax were down 4.6%. 

The Tobacco Tax posted the biggest increase year-over-year, showing a 6.9% gain.

Amid all of the gloomy figures, the monthly numbers for June offer some encouraging news. June revenues — led by tobacco, interest & dividends, liquor, utility property and business profits — were higher than last June’s by a total of $1.4 million.

Independence Day, 2020, will come without parades or fireworks shows in many communities. They are canceled for the coronavirus. Some Americans seem to want them canceled for good. They’re ashamed of the flag and the nation it represents. 

Six years from America’s 250th birthday, her citizens should be preparing for the party to end all parties. Instead, many of us are questioning the idea that the country is worth celebrating at all.

It is. Joyfully and unashamedly. 

As all other nations before it, ours was founded and built by flawed human beings, many of whom did terrible things. As James Madison observed, men are not angels. If they were, there would be no need of government. 

Unlike all other nations before it, however, ours was dedicated to a principle so radical that it transformed human culture on a global scale. 

Throughout human history, inequality based on strictly enforced social rank was universally accepted. From East to West, cultures were based upon the unchallenged belief that there were “better” and “worse” classes of people. 

This system accepted slavery as merely the lowest of the many rigid and brutally enforced social ranks. Slavery was an accepted and thoroughly entrenched part of societies around the world, including ancient Athens and Egypt, medieval Ghana, 19th-century Brazil, and China and India throughout most of recorded history. 

Everywhere humans settled, they tended to build societies with largely unchangeable social and economic strata. The pre-1776 world, aristocratic and rigidly hierarchical, would be unrecognizable to today’s Americans, whose vocabulary of human rights would sound insane to most people throughout human history. 

Whether they know it or not, today’s young Americans are the direct intellectual descendants of the American colonists who, after enjoying more than a century of self-government, started to question their assigned status within the British colonial system. 

The Americans openly questioned their social superiors, including the king. If they were to be taxed, then they demanded representation in Parliament, a dramatic elevation of their social status. When the king and Parliament told them to shut up and submit to the rightful rule of their superiors, they loaded their muskets. 

The American Founders were not saints. But most of what they are reviled for today was the cultural residue of the aristocratic age they destroyed. Their insistence that they had the right to govern themselves, and that “all men” enjoyed the same right by virtue of being “created equal” flipped the global human social order upside down. 

Legend has it that General Cornwallis ordered the band to play “The World Turned Upside Down” during his surrender ceremony at Yorktown. It would’ve been a fitting tune, for the American Revolution rendered the old world order obsolete and invented a new one in which any individual, no matter the circumstances of his or her birth, was presumed to have the same value, the same rights, and the same claim to self-government as any other. 

In his Pulitzer-winning book “The Radicalism of the American Revolution,” historian Gordon Wood explained that “the Revolution suddenly and effectively ended the cultural climate that had allowed black slavery, as well as other forms of bondage and unfreedom, to exist throughout the colonial period without serious challenge. With the revolutionary movement, black slavery became excruciatingly conspicuous in a way that it had not been in the older monarchical society with its many calibrations and degrees of unfreedom; and Americans in 1775-76 began attacking it with a vehemence that was inconceivable earlier.”  

The Society for the Relief of Free Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage, the first anti-slavery society, was founded in Philadelphia on April 14, 1775 — four days before the battles of Lexington and Concord. The revolutionary ideas engulfing the American colonies were sparking change before they sparked the war itself.

The Americans were coming to believe every person to be sovereign unto himself. When sovereignty is removed from the king and nestled inside each individual, any claim that one person, one group of persons or one class of persons has a right to rule the masses evaporates.

“Popular consent now became the exclusive justification for the exercise of authority by all parts of the government — not just the houses of representatives, but senates, governors, and even judges,” Wood wrote. 

Thomas Jefferson’s words, quoted above, did more than set patriotic hearts afire. They burned down the old order. Not instantly. Not easily. But permanently. 

Even Americans who think they loathe Washington, Jefferson and Madison do not attack them with the ideas that prevailed before the American Revolution. They attack America’s Founders with the Founders’ own words and ideas. That’s how thoroughly the American Revolution changed the world. 

For modern Western politics, 1776 is Year One. The ideas that prevailed before are but the ancient fragments of a defeated civilization. That civilization destroyed with an idea expressed in just five words. “All men are created equal.” 

Celebrate the United States of America? 

Without hesitation. Every year. Every day.  

Sometimes, the bills everyone is afraid to vote against are the ones we should worry about the most. The PFAS bill passed 23-1 in the Senate last week is a great example. 

If you haven’t followed the Saga of the State PFAS Standards,* well, you’re probably a normal human being with a happy life, and we’re sorry to bring it up. Just know that it’s less complicated than the plot of Twin Peaks, but more complicated than Bulgaria’s relationship with Turkish soap operas.

Because we know you’re rushing out the door to enjoy in-person restaurant dining before Shutdown II: Corona Boogaloo starts, we’ll try to keep this as short as a Looney Toons episode with all the violence removed. 

The state Senate recently bundled into House Bill 1246 a bunch of PFAS-related bills for rapid passage in the coronavirus-shortened legislative session. We’ll focus on just one section of this bill: the part that writes PFAS maximum contamination levels (MCLs) into law.

The bill adopts the MCLs issued by the state Department of Environmental Services last year. These standards are, to be diplomatic, of questionable scientific legitimacy. 

The allowed parts per trillion (yes, trillion) are many times lower than the Environmental Protection Agency’s guideline levels and are based on animal tests and a questionable model adopted by one state (Minnesota).

Moreover, the costs are enormous and the benefits unknown — despite the fact that the department was required by law to conduct a cost-benefit analysis. 

The department estimated the costs at $190 million. That’s a gigantic sum. Though the point of a cost-benefit analysis is to determine whether the benefits are worth the costs, the department offered only a qualitative, not a quantitative, analysis of the benefits. That is, it couldn’t put a price tag on the benefits it claimed would result from these lower levels. 

“Any rational interpretation of the statute requires more,” a judge ruled last November in a lawsuit challenging the inadequacy of the cost-benefit analysis. That lawsuit is pending before the state Supreme Court. 

In the absence of a quality state analysis, the New England Ratepayers Association hired an economist to do one. It estimated the benefits to range between $2.6 million and $8.0 million per year, far lower than the estimated costs of $11.6 million to $23.2 million per year.

Usually, legislators will wait for a court ruling before moving forward with legislation in situations like this. Not this time. 

Writing these incredibly low and costly MCLs into law now, before the Supreme Court has determined whether their adoption was done legally, is foolhardy. 

Writing them into law without having any evidence that the benefits will outweigh the costs is reckless. 

Writing them into law without really knowing whether levels that low and that expensive are absolutely necessary to protect public health is sloppy.

These are only some of the problems with one section of this PFAS bill.

Given the poor state of municipal and business budgets this year, adding these additional costs now will only push local governments further into the red. There’s a very real possibility that the cleanup costs associated with these mandates will combine with other budget difficulties to trigger property tax increases. 

Waiting six months for the economy to recover further and the Supreme Court to act would be the prudent move. (But this is politics. If you want prudence, buy The White Album.) 

Legislation this foolhardy, reckless and sloppy usually meets more than token opposition. But this bill is expected to pass easily next week. 

Maybe, a few years after it passes and municipalities have spent tens of millions of dollars to meet its mandates, triggering property tax increases, we’ll finally get that complete and legally required cost-benefit analysis from the department.

*Rumored to be the title of Bob Dylan’s new 37-minute-long single.