and the
Citizens Economic Research Foundation

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Supplemental Budget and income tax rollback

To:  Members of the House Ways & Means Committee
cc:   Members of the General Court
         June 15, 2004

With apologies, and a dedication of the income tax rollback project, to Ronald Reagan:

"Mr. Speaker, Tear Down This Rate!"

It is time.

In 1989, during a state fiscal crisis, the Legislature passed an income tax rate hike that it promised would be "temporary."

When the crisis was over, and state spending began to increase $1 billion a year, with giant surpluses, the "temporary" income tax rate stubbornly remained.

In 2000, when the "temporary" income tax rate was eleven years old, Massachusetts voters reasonably mandated that it finally be rolled back over three years. The vote was 59-41 percent.

But before we taxpayers could once again pay our traditional 5 percent rate, in 2002 the voters’ rollback was "frozen" because of yet another state fiscal crisis, which followed a budget that had doubled since the last one.

In 2004 the latest crisis is over. It is time to continue with the voters’ mandate before the Legislature spends us into another "emergency."

We applaud Governor Romney for his respect for the voters and the initiative petition process. We support his proposal to at last reduce the rate to its historic 5 percent for tax year 2005.

In 2005 the voter-mandated 5 percent rate will be two years overdue.

Still, once again we are being reasonable. We are not asking for a retroactive rate cut. We are however, not interested in a continuing "gradual reduction." The voters said 5 percent by 2003. The least you can do is abide by their 5 percent mandate by 2005.

The slogan of our winning 2000 ballot campaign was "A Promise to Keep: 5%." This year’s slogan is "A Promise to Keep: Five by Five."

Just do it, finally. At long last. Thank you for your attention to the taxpayers who fund all state services and spending. For far too long, we’ve deserved more respect than we’ve been getting on this "temporary tax" issue.

Let this year be different at last.

– 30 –

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