In their joint press release, Lyons defended the proposal as a matter of equality:
“This is an issue of fundamental fairness,” Lyons emphasized. “The hard working citizens who follow the rules and pay their taxes do not qualify for benefits like this. If we provide extravagant benefits like this to a vicious murderer, then why deny them to the law abiding citizenry? It’s a simple matter of fairness and justice.”
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts had an estimated population of 6,587,536 in 2011. Assuming that the vast majority of these are law-abiding citizens, a $700,000 entitlement could cost the state more than $4.6 trillion if every resident became a party to a lawsuit.
According to the Massachusetts Department of Revenue, the state took in about $18.5 billion in revenue in 2010. If that amount held constant, it would take the Massachusetts about 250 years to pay that amount — assuming every penny of state revenue was dedicated only to paying the potential legal fees for those alive today. If more law-abiding people moved into the state or new ones were born, the potential liability could skyrocket even more.
Making matters worse, Reps. Lyons and Lombardo have actually proposed significant income tax, sales tax, and meals tax rollbacks, with a Herman Cain-like “5-5-5 plan”. Passage of these would further erode the state’s ability to pay the legal bills he seeks to cover.
Given that the state spent more than twice as much on its own legal fees than it would have cost to pay for the surgery the inmate’s doctors recommended, real fiscal conservatives would question the state’s refusal to comply with the law — rather than push to compound the wasteful spending exponentially.
Both Lyons and Lombardo voted against the state’s 2011 gender identity rights law, which protects transgender citizens against discrimination in employment, housing, K-12 public education, and credit.