CITIZENS   FOR  LIMITED  TAXATION
and the
Citizens Economic Research Foundation

 

CLT UPDATE
Saturday, January 24, 2004

The primal scream is everywhere


Question 3 contains a very simple concept. Marblehead voters either accept the entire additional property tax for school pay raises and, in future years, anything at all that the selectmen and town meeting want higher taxes for -- or -- we lose our trash collection.

Considering that we are paying property taxes to get our trash collected, itís a rather clever form of blackmail....

If we give in to the blackmail this year, it will just get worse in future years. We might as well say No on 3 and stop it now....

Vote No on 3 or prepare to vote for a multi-purpose general override every year for the rest of your life to keep your trash collection.

The Marblehead Reporter
Thursday, June 12, 2003
Letter to the Editor by Barbara Anderson
No on Question 3


In an effort to close the projected $2.8 million gap for the Fiscal Year 2005 budget...

Committee members also discussed various articles to include in the warrant that could positively impact the town's financial future. Such articles include one that would establish a trash fee...

Committee members also discussed how best to handle the approximately $800,000 in raises approved by Town Meeting last year as part of a three-year collective bargaining agreement that would become part of this year's budget.

The Marblehead Reporter
Thursday, January 22, 2004
Town departments asked to slash 10 percent from budgets


The state has quietly increased the fee for cremations by 50 percent to raise money for the embattled Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, prompting outrage among funeral providers over a "new hidden tax on the dead." ...

"This is another rip-off," said Byron E. Blanchard, treasurer of the Funeral Consumers Alliance of Eastern Massachusetts. "It represents a sizable portion of the cost of a cremation. It's a boondoggle." ...

Under the new law, passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Mitt Romney, the current fee of $50 - which was being paid directly to medical examiners when they approved bodies for cremation - will go up to $75. The fee could go up again at the discretion of the Romney administration....

In a 1995 article in the Boston Globe, controversial Chief M.E. Richard F. Evans, who is facing an ethics probe into his handling of the office over the past decade, derided the cremation fees as "ridiculous" and "unnecessary."

The Boston Herald
Wednesday, January 21, 2004
Cremation fee increase called 'tax on the dead'


Gov. Mitt Romney is coming perilously close to deserving the reputation of a politician who'll slap a fee on anything that moves - and sometimes that which doesn't move. Such is the case with the administration's new higher fee for cremation.

A Boston Herald editorial
Friday, January 23, 2004
Here a fee, there a fee


Jobs for Massachusetts, with 33 members from the top echelons of finance, law, business, and government, may well be the most influential coalition of business, labor and government leaders that no one wants to discuss publicly.

Like the Vault, the group of Boston business and government officials who organized in secret in the late 1950s to steer the city out of financial straits, members of Jobs for Massachusetts turn down interviews, decline to acknowledge their membership, and leave phone messages unanswered....

Nowadays, members - or directors as they are known in the Jobs for Mass parlance - include the most powerful names in the state who meet once a month behind closed doors in the Fed, hashing out the major economic and public policy debates of the day: tax policies, unemployment insurance, Medicaid costs, and education funding are a few recent examples.

State House News Service
Friday, January 23, 2004
Important and silent,
Jobs for Mass. Inc lets state's elite speak freely


Making good on a December pledge to shower donations on the first 100 Republicans who commit to running against incumbents, Romney and his wife, Ann, dashed off checks, mostly for $250 apiece, to 67 GOP challengers and sitting lawmakers last year, records show....

The trio of wealthy Republican families dished a total of $43,350 out of their pockets - and there's more where that came from....

But Democratic Party spokeswoman Jane Lane called the "pots of gold" for GOP candidate "abhorrent." ...

Meanwhile, Finneran's House Victory Fund lavished $46,555 on 58 potentially vulnerable House lawmakers and dropped another $5,000 on the struggling Democratic Party.

The Boston Herald
Saturday, January 24, 2004
Gov antes up donations for state GOP challengers


Membership has its privileges, and in the Massachusetts House, membership on the Democratic leadership team often translates into a boost in campaign donations.

Nine of the top 10 House lawmakers with the heftiest campaign warchests at the beginning of the 2004 election year are also members of House Speaker Thomas Finneran's leadership team, according to a review of campaign finance reports by The Associated Press....

Lawmakers who can raise large sums of money and bankroll impressive warchests effectively squelch democracy by discouraging challengers from even attempting to run against them, [Galen Nelson, director of the nonpartisan Money and Politics Project] said.

Associated Press 
Friday, January 23, 2004
Political power translates into campaign dollars for House


Chip Ford's CLT Commentary

"If we give in to the blackmail this year, it will just get worse in future years," Barbara warned the citizens of Marblehead seven months ago. But they chose to ignore her and other override opponents and voted to hike their property tax to keep doorstep trash pickup.

"Vote No on 3 or prepare to vote for a multi-purpose general override every year for the rest of your life to keep your trash collection," she predicted.

I don't even hate to say "I told you so" anymore -- I'm inured to rubbing it in, to always being right. We told you so!!! Through the usual scare tactics our town fathers and mothers got their override vote to "maintain trash pickup" as well as increase teachers' salaries and a sustain a plethora of other spending.

Result? The "Pay As You Throw" controversy has returned to Marblehead ... a mere seven months after Barbara warned that it would.

Let this be fair warning to you in other communities.

*                    *                    *

What in God's name is with all these Romney fee increases? First a Republican (Swift) administration and a more-than-willing Legislature went after bed-ridden nursing-home patients -- the "Granny Tax" -- on those who are paying the cost for their own final days instead of depending on taxpayer-funded handouts, and unconscionably charged them additionally for their personal responsibility. Now the Republican Romney administration has targeted those whose deathbed wish is to be cremated? Meanwhile,  Washington Republicans complain about a "Death Tax."

As one CLT activist told me, it's going to be hard enough to find a victim with "court standing" to challenge the nursing-home bed tax before the courts as we hope to do this year; finding a cremated victim to challenge the new "'From Ashes to Ashes' Tax" will be even more difficult. Here in "compassionate" and "progressive" Massachusetts, we now have a new class of "the most vulnerable among us":  truly, the dead and dying. They've already nailed the blind ("sight-impaired") with a new "fee" burden for their licenses to prove it; the halt and lame can only be next.

Who will speak for them? The answer surely won't be found on Bacon Hill, where increased revenue at any cost under any guise reigns king.

Governor Romney vowed, "I'll propose a balanced budget. I will not propose raising taxes. I will propose no broad-based fee increases," according to the Worcester Telegram & Gazette report on Jan. 12 -- less than two weeks ago.

What is a "broad-based" fee? There's no such creature under the law. There are "broad-based" taxes that most if not everyone pays; but fees can only be charged for not more than the government's cost of providing a specific service to an individual who voluntarily seeks it.

It seems over and over again that when it comes to "fees," we're dealing with what the definition of "is" is.

"Gov. Mitt Romney is coming perilously close ..."?

His administration's gone way over the edge. We're being fee'd to death ... and now then some.

*                    *                    *

-- Barbara's Commentary --

Re: Important and silent,
Jobs for Mass. Inc lets state's elite speak freely

Well, if all these powerful people getting together "makes enormous contributions to the Commonwealth," how come weíre in such a mess?

So Jobs for Mass has been "outed." I didnít realize it was such a secret. My recollection is that the original group was created by our friend (and now CLT member) Howard Foley, with another present CLT member, Heinz Muehlmann, as its economist. The idea was to get all factions together to do something about the state economy in the late '70s, after the first Dukakis administration. Jobs worked with Gov. King (who also became a CLT member later) and "Make it in Massachusetts" was born.

But the group was made up such disparate factions that it didnít get much done except talking. So Heinz went to AIM and Howard founded the Mass. High Tech Council (MHTC) and worked with CLT for Proposition 2Ĺ in 1980. Most Jobs people were part of our opposition Ė- and still are. Jimmy Coughlin is a nice guy, though. And I think some of them helped Howard raise money when CLT and MHTC were all fighting the graduated income tax in 1994. So this is not a "secret society" that we need to fear, except to the degree that it supports the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation.

Besides, as you know, we have our own group of people representing different conservative/libertarian organizations and politicians (Grover Norquist's "leave us alone coalition") that get together at Chip Faulknerís monthly Friday Morning Group (FMG) meetings to keep in touch and share information.

*                    *                    *

You've simply got to admire shameless Massachusetts Democratic Party chutzpah if nothing else.

"But Democratic Party spokeswoman Jane Lane called the 'pots of gold' for GOP candidates 'abhorrent,'" according to today's Boston Herald report by Elisabeth Beardsley.

So if $43,350 from a trio of Republican families is "abhorrent," according to Democratic Party spokeswoman Jane Lane ... just how does she define the $46,555 "lavished" from Finneran's "House Victory Fund"? Finneran's "campaign warchest" topped the state's fund-raising list reported this week at $477,388. That's none too shabby for the unchallenged "Speaker for Life."

Aren't you just waiting to hear Jane Lane mimic Howard Dean's "Yeeeeeaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh" primal scream of ultimate desperation next?

It's coming, I assure you, as Republican competition for Democrat "birth-right" seats intensifies.

Howard played Tarzan, and Jane will be Jane.

Chip Ford


The Marblehead Reporter
Thursday, June 12, 2003
Letter to the Editor by Barbara Anderson
No on Question 3


Question 3 contains a very simple concept. Marblehead voters either accept the entire additional property tax for school pay raises and, in future years, anything at all that the selectmen and town meeting want higher taxes for -- or -- we lose our trash collection.

Considering that we are paying property taxes to get our trash collected, itís a rather clever form of blackmail. Remove trash collections from the budget, offering no alternative to your trash left forever on the curb, then say it will be collected only if you support an override for other town departments.

The imagination has no bounds. Eventually, the annual override will require additional taxes for all town departments, plus perhaps some fun things like a trip for selectmen to DisneyWorld or, trash collection will end. When that gets old, they can throw in some other losses, eg., vote for another general override or snow will not be plowed, no alternative, and donít forget, the trash wonít be collected either.

If we give in to the blackmail this year, it will just get worse in future years. We might as well say No on 3 and stop it now. Let all those citizens who donít read the papers so donít even know there is an override call the Board of Health The Day the Trash Remains. When they canít get through, they will call the selectmen. I figure it will take twenty minutes per call for the selectman to explain the above blackmail concept. After a few weeks of this they might come up with a better plan than letting the trash pile up on the curb or sending the whole town to the dump on Saturday morning.

Vote No on 3 or prepare to vote for a multi-purpose general override every year for the rest of your life to keep your trash collection.

Barbara Anderson

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The Marblehead Reporter
Thursday, January 22, 2004

Town departments asked to slash 10 percent from budgets
By William Henderson / Correspondent

In an effort to close the projected $2.8 million gap for the Fiscal Year 2005 budget, the Finance Committee have asked town departments to prepare budgets with flat 10-percent reductions, instead of asking committee and department heads to submit first a level-funded budget and then a budget reflecting a 5-percent cut, as has been done in previous years. 

Departments now have until approximately "the end of January" to make these cuts and submit individual budgets to their Finance Committee liaisons. However, the school department, which accounts for 64 percent of the town's annual budget, is not required to follow this timetable. School Committee members are slated to present their budget projections at their Feb. 5 meeting. 

"Tony Sasso is working with the departments that are under the selectmen," Finance Committee Chairman Ken Taylor said. "We have liaison meetings scheduled for February and March, but we like to review the budgets before then." 

This 10-percent reduction request is by no means what town departments can expect their budgets to ultimately reflect, the FinCom stressed. Taylor said a number of changes will occur between now and Town Meeting, as seen last year when changes were made just hours before Town Meeting began. 

"It's a starting point," Taylor said. "It's not a great one, but it's a starting point." 

Committee members discussed how such a large cut in department budgets could shift the burden of closing the anticipated budget shortfall primarily to the school department, but they remain optimistic. Many believe Gov. Mitt Romney's "state of the state" address last week bodes well for this year's budget cycle. 

"It's at least more optimistic than what we heard last year," Taylor said. 

Committee Vice Chairman David Harris is hopeful that the current fiscal year will end with a slightly better financial outlook than initially anticipated, especially as cost-cutting measures are implemented into already appropriated monies. 

"If we can come up with an idea where the money can be saved now, we don't have to wait until 2005 to realize those savings," Harris said. "Then we can chip away at the deficit." 

Committee members also discussed various articles to include in the warrant that could positively impact the town's financial future. Such articles include one that would establish a trash fee as well as one that suggests merging some areas of town business to effectively and perhaps more efficiently offer services to residents. 

"At this time, we're looking at all options to close the projected $3 million dollar deficit," said committee member Susan Patoski. Such options, if taken, while not necessarily adding to the town's coffers, may in the long run offset resident response to predicted cuts, she said. 

Newly appointed member Jack Buba suggested a winter-parking-permit program that he had mentioned to selectmen during his interview. He said such a program would create a continuing revenue source that would also add a much-needed service or capability to residents. This suggestion, too, may find its way onto the warrant. 

According to Selectman Judy Jacobi, "The going rate for parking is $500," and as a result such a plan could prove financially beneficial to both residents and the town. However, would residents be willing to pay for winter-parking privileges, and if so, how much would they be willing to pay? 

"Nothing is going to be easy to get through to get more revenue," Buba said. 

Committee members also discussed how best to handle the approximately $800,000 in raises approved by Town Meeting last year as part of a three-year collective bargaining agreement that would become part of this year's budget. Town Meeting must still approve this year's raises, and if it does, the raises cannot hinge on an override vote. 

However, Town Meeting could vote against the raises, an issue that committee members discussed. 

Last year, town employee raises were also an issue at Town Meeting. Taylor recommended then, as he said he would again, that Town Meeting adopt an all-or-none attitude on the raises. 

Exhibiting a little levity, committee members seemed ready to hurdle what can only be another difficult fiscal year. 

"We're charged with bringing a balanced budget to Town Meeting members," Harris said. "And then they will give their approval or disapproval."

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The Boston Herald
Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Cremation fee increase called 'tax on the dead'
By Tom Mashberg


The state has quietly increased the fee for cremations by 50 percent to raise money for the embattled Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, prompting outrage among funeral providers over a "new hidden tax on the dead."

"This is another rip-off," said Byron E. Blanchard, treasurer of the Funeral Consumers Alliance of Eastern Massachusetts. "It represents a sizable portion of the cost of a cremation. It's a boondoggle."

The increase is part of a complex and some say questionable effort by the Executive Office of Public Safety to raise the salaries of staff pathologists, who have not received pay hikes in 10 years.

Under the new law, passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Mitt Romney, the current fee of $50 - which was being paid directly to medical examiners when they approved bodies for cremation - will go up to $75. The fee could go up again at the discretion of the Romney administration.

The crematories will be asked to collect the added money and send it directly to the M.E.'s Office. The state expects the income from the fees, reflecting some 14,000 cremations a year, to reach $1 million.

The state has said it will use the revenue to increase pay to pathologists. But Blanchard and others question the value of any cremation "viewing" fee altogether. They call it a tax on the poor because it boosts the price of an affordable cremation from about $200 to $275.

"Since when does the government care about poor families?" said Peter Steffan of the Graham Putnam Funeral Home. "They could raise the fee to $100 and the cost would just be passed along.

In a letter mailed Jan. 14, Public Safety czar Edward A. Flynn told state medical examiners the new fee must be in place by Feb. 16.

But at least one veteran examiner from Central Massachusetts, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the new fee and paperwork could prompt pathologists to decline doing cremations, raising the specter of bodies being left to await available medical examiners. 

"They've put a new fee on the backs of the public without even consulting with the medical examiners first about whether it makes sense," the examiner said. 

In a 1995 article in the Boston Globe, controversial Chief M.E. Richard F. Evans, who is facing an ethics probe into his handling of the office over the past decade, derided the cremation fees as "ridiculous" and "unnecessary."

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The Boston Herald
Friday, January 23, 2004

A Boston Herald editorial
Here a fee, there a fee


Gov. Mitt Romney is coming perilously close to deserving the reputation of a politician who'll slap a fee on anything that moves - and sometimes that which doesn't move. Such is the case with the administration's new higher fee for cremation.

Increasing the state's cremation fee from $50 to $75 to raise needed funds for the medical examiner's office is not, in and of itself, bad. The embattled agency needs the money. And while funeral directors correctly point out that it's a burden on families unable to afford it, that could be said of many user fees. The real issue is whether the charge reflects the cost of the service, or whether the fee is imposed simply to raise revenue.

The cremation fee increase, coming on top of some $500 million in fees supported by the governor and Legislature last year, makes the disguised tax argument ever easier to make. We hope Romney's budget proposal released next week doesn't add fuel to this fire.

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State House News Service
Friday, January 23, 2004

Important and silent,
Jobs for Mass. Inc lets state's elite speak freely
By Michael C. Levenson


House Speaker Thomas Finneran rarely misses an opportunity to warmly praise bridge-building between the state's political and corporate establishments.

But Finneran turned frosty recently when asked about a powerful alliance of business executives and government officials who meet regularly under the auspices of a private non-profit organization called Jobs for Massachusetts Inc.

"It's not anything that I talk about," said Finneran, a member of the group. "So that's the extent of my response. No further comment."

Jobs for Massachusetts, with 33 members from the top echelons of finance, law, business, and government, may well be the most influential coalition of business, labor and government leaders that no one wants to discuss publicly.

Like the Vault, the group of Boston business and government officials who organized in secret in the late 1950s to steer the city out of financial straits, members of Jobs for Massachusetts turn down interviews, decline to acknowledge their membership, and leave phone messages unanswered.

Finneran - who regularly attends the organization's meetings with Senate President Robert Travaglini and occasionally Gov. Mitt Romney - said the silence that governs the organization's business and membership is a "custom." 

"There's really no reason to talk about it. It just is what it is," said James Coughlin, one of two full-time staff members who oversees Jobs for Massachusetts' affairs and its $400,000 budget from a tiny office on the third floor of the Federal Reserve Building. "That's just the way it's evolved."

The group is dedicated to bringing lawmakers and executives together to foster business-friendly policymaking. John Crosier, the president of the Business and Industry Association of New Hampshire, who was executive vice president of Jobs for Massachusetts from 1978 to 1980, said, "The ground rules were, if you didn't have unanimity, you didn't take the divisions outside the room. The understanding was you could speak your peace and wouldn't read about it on the front page the next day."

The organization's reticence dates to 1972 when Jobs for Massachusetts was founded by the chairmen of the state's four major banks: Bank of Boston, Shawmut, Bank of New England and State Street. The executives were determined to steer public policy in a more business friendly direction. At the time, membership consisted mostly of banking and insurance executives who hoped to lure out-of-state companies to Massachusetts.

"We were the first, I think, in the country that talked about packaging Massachusetts as a product and going around and looking at what are the advantages and disadvantages of your product," Coughlin said. 

Nowadays, members - or directors as they are known in the Jobs for Mass parlance - include the most powerful names in the state who meet once a month behind closed doors in the Fed, hashing out the major economic and public policy debates of the day: tax policies, unemployment insurance, Medicaid costs, and education funding are a few recent examples.

Besides the governor and House and Senate leaders, directors include the chief executives of the state's leading health care, advertising, insurance, energy, communications and financial institutions. They includes executives from Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Hill Holiday, Citizens Financial, FleetBoston Financial, Blue Cross Blue Shield, KeySpan Energy, Liberty Mutual Insurance, Sovereign Bank, National Grid USA, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and officials from Verizon, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, EMC Corporation, Mellon Financial, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, the chairman of the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education. John Silber, the chancellor of Boston University, and Gloria Larson, chairwoman of the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority, are also directors.

Thomas May, chief executive of NSTAR, is serving a two-year term as the group's chairman and two directors represent organized labor: the Massachusetts Alliance of Utility Workers and the Professional Firefighters of Massachusetts.

The Vault, which formed in 1959 and met in a secret boardroom with a succession of Boston mayors, battled the perception that it was the city's shadow government on financial affairs. Ralph Lowell, of the Boston Safe Deposit and Trust Company, who was the group's chairman in the 1950s, defended the association as a group of "men interested in the welfare of Boston."

Officials who run Jobs for Mass characterize their group in similar terms. "This is a wonderful organization that makes enormous contributions to the Commonwealth," Coughlin said. "We're not looking for publicity. There's no reason to because at this point it really is doing what it's supposed to do. And we're not in the credit game. If somebody else's efforts are supported - great."

The group has also become a mainstay for governors from Dukakis to Romney. During his second term, when he was trying to wrest the state from its fiscal crisis, Dukakis attended "all the time," Coughlin said. William Weld attended 50 to 60 percent of the monthly meetings, Paul Cellucci 70 to 80 percent, Jane Swift, 30 percent. Romney has been more sporadic, although his economic affairs officials make appearances, Coughlin said. 

"They were often very helpful to me particularly as we dug our way out of the mess we were in the mid-1970s and again in the 1980s," Dukakis said, although he added that he didn't always agree with the business advice he received and believed organized labor was underrepresented in the organization.

Still, Dukakis said, "I'm a fan. The idea behind this thing is that this would basically be a conversation between business, labor and government folks that would not be making headlines, would not be making press conferences but would try essentially to establish a common meeting ground, without attracting a bunch of television cameras out front."

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The Boston Herald
Saturday, January 24, 2004

Gov antes up donations for state GOP challengers
By Elisabeth J. Beardsley


Gov. Mitt Romney pumped nearly $17,000 of his personal money into the campaign coffers of dozens of Republicans last year - giving an early boost to challengers who are facing off this fall against cash-starved Democratic lawmakers.

Making good on a December pledge to shower donations on the first 100 Republicans who commit to running against incumbents, Romney and his wife, Ann, dashed off checks, mostly for $250 apiece, to 67 GOP challengers and sitting lawmakers last year, records show.

Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey and her husband, Sean, kicked in 47 donations totaling $11,350, and Republican Party Chairman Darrell Crate and his wife, Nancy, anted up $15,500 to 62 candidates.

The trio of wealthy Republican families dished a total of $43,350 out of their pockets - and there's more where that came from.

Republican Party Director Dominick Ianno said the contributions show "the strongest personal commitment" by GOP leaders. But Democratic Party spokeswoman Jane Lane called the "pots of gold" for GOP candidates "abhorrent."

With about $600,000 cash on hand, the GOP has twice as much money as the combined $227,672 that's in the three main Democratic accounts - the State Committee, the Committee for a Democratic Senate, and Speaker Thomas Finneran's House Victory Fund.

Democrats say cash is less important than campaign workers and door-knocking by candidates, but Senate President Robert E. Travaglini said he's keenly aware the GOP threat is "real" this year - and Democratic senators are in the cross hairs as Romney seeks enough seats to sustain a veto.

Democrats now outnumber Republicans in the Senate, 32 to 7. Travaglini said he is "prepared to defend the record of my members."

Meanwhile, Finneran's House Victory Fund lavished $46,555 on 58 potentially vulnerable House lawmakers and dropped another $5,000 on the struggling Democratic Party.

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The Associated Press
Friday, January 23, 2004

Political power translates into campaign dollars for House
By Steve LeBlanc


Membership has its privileges, and in the Massachusetts House, membership on the Democratic leadership team often translates into a boost in campaign donations.

Nine of the top 10 House lawmakers with the heftiest campaign warchests at the beginning of the 2004 election year are also members of House Speaker Thomas Finneran's leadership team, according to a review of campaign finance reports by The Associated Press.

They include Finneran, Majority Leader Salvatore DiMasi, D-Boston, Ways and Means Chairman John Rogers, D-Norwood, and the chairs of other power House panels including the Health Care, Insurance, and Banks and Banking committees.

Finneran topped the list with $477,388, followed by Energy Committee Chairman Rep. John Binienda, D-Worcester ($220,668), Rogers ($215,704) and DiMasi ($195,312).

Critics say the donations show that political power attracts money from those hoping to curry favor with top Beacon Hill lawmakers.

Finneran's district includes parts of Boston and Milton, but the vast number of contributors to his campaign last year hailed from outside his district. They include hospital CEO's, insurance company executives and presidents of top energy corporations.

"Serious political players in the state understand they must pay to play. They contribute heavily to legislative leaders who largely control the outcome of legislation," said Galen Nelson, director of the nonpartisan Money and Politics Project. "It disenfranchises and disempowers voters of average means."

A spokesman for Finneran declined to comment.

Lawmakers are quick to defend their fund-raising efforts. They say the fact that someone writes a check does not guarantee access or votes. Often, lawmakers say, they receive contributions from people who support their views.

"There isn't a person up here that you can buy access to," said Binienda, who credits his impressive campaign warchest to his frugality. He pulled in about $56,000 last year and spent just $16,500, boosting his overall total.

"I've just been blessed to raise some money and I haven't had to spend a lot over the last few years because I haven't had an opponent since 1996," he said.

That's part of the problem, according to Nelson.

Lawmakers who can raise large sums of money and bankroll impressive warchests effectively squelch democracy by discouraging challengers from even attempting to run against them, he said.

"Incumbents who enter a race with a significant financial advantage win 9 times out of 10 and often discourage competition altogether," he said.

The only House member in the top 10 who doesn't hold a leadership position is five-term Watertown Democrat Rachel Kaprielian.

In the Senate, Senate President Robert Travaglini, D-Boston, placed third with $239,565, behind Sen. Guy Glodis, D-Worcester with $332,068, and former Ways and Means Chairman Mark Montigny, who easily outpaced his fellow senators with a hefty $933,066 in the bank. Senate Majority Leader Frederick Berry, D-Peabody, placed eighth with $130,663.

The year-end campaign finance reports of a handful of House members and one senator, Dianne Wilkerson, D-Boston, did not appear on the web site of the Office of Campaign and Political Finance yesterday. The deadline for filing the reports was Tuesday.

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