CITIZENS   FOR  LIMITED  TAXATION
and the
Citizens Economic Research Foundation

CLT UPDATE
Saturday, June 26, 2004

Gov. Romney vetoes and the band plays on


Thank you for the veto on a new senior exclusion that isn't approved by a local referendum. CLT appreciates your respect for the voters.

We support 100 percent your veto of the disgraceful moratorium on charter schools.

We would also like to see a veto of Outside Section 32, in-state tuition for illegal aliens. We assume you see the conflict with federal law, but on the merits, somebody has to step up to demand citizenship before benefits on many issues. This is a good start.

CLT Memo to Governor Romney on Vetoes
Friday, June 25, 2004


Governor Mitt Romney vetoed $108.5 million yesterday for healthcare contractors, the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, courts, and alcohol- and tobacco-control programs, as he signed a new $24.5 billion state spending plan....

In addition to striking the $108.5 million, which amounts to less than one-half of 1 percent of the overall budget, Romney also rejected a proposal to allow undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition rates at state colleges and universities and another that would prohibit outsourcing by vendors doing business with the state. He also followed through on his pledge to veto a moratorium on the opening of new charter schools.

Democratic lawmakers, who form a supermajority in the House and Senate that is able to override the governor's veto, vowed to begin the process of overturning most of Romney's vetoes immediately ...

Similarly, the Massachusetts Teachers Association criticized Romney's veto of a moratorium on creation of new charter schools, which public education advocates say divert badly needed funds from the neediest school districts.

"It is absurd to continue to expand the number of charter schools at the expense of the rest of the state's public schools," said association president Catherine A. Boudreau....

Romney expressed reluctance in making some of his vetoes, especially one that nullified a plan to let about 400 undocumented immigrants pay in-state tuition rates at state colleges and universities. Supporters argue that it isn't right to punish students who may have been brought here illegally when they were toddlers, but Romney said he doesn't want to encourage illegal immigration.

"I hate the idea of in any way making it more difficult for kids, even those who are illegal aliens, to afford college in our state," Romney said. "But equally, perhaps a little more than equally, I do not want to create an incentive to do something which is illegal."

The Boston Globe
Saturday, June 26, 2004
Romney vetoes $108.5m in budget
He signs $24.5b state spending plan


Governor Mitt Romney, as promised, vetoed a freeze yesterday on the opening of new charter schools, leaving lawmakers to decide whether to override his action or accept his suggested overhaul of charter school funding.

Several members of the House Education Committee said yesterday that they were seriously studying the governor's proposed changes, but could not predict whether enough representatives wanted to override the veto so they would have more time to consider his proposal....

The Boston Globe
Saturday, June 26, 2004
Romney vetoes freeze on new charter schools
Lawmakers considering an override


If children and teenagers represent the future of a country, why do adults refuse to pave the way for a better tomorrow?

Gov. Mitt Romney disappointed plenty of people yesterday when he vetoed the bill to allow eligible immigrant youth to attend colleges paying in-state tuition. He also disappointed many more as he vetoed MassHealth for elderly and disabled immigrants.

The MetroWest Daily News
Saturday, June 26, 2004
In America: Governor's pen strikes out dreams
By Miryam Wiley


I can't decide if this column was written out of ignorance or intentional deceit, but it doesn't stand up to even a passing scrutiny on any number of points. Perhaps you'd consider all of your readers stupid if none called you on this absurdly twisted advocacy. I for one am not stupid; you did not gull me if that was your intent.

If it was written from ignorance, please allow me to point out the plethora of inconsistencies, inaccuracies and illogic ...

To: Miryam Wiley
A response by Chip Ford
In America: Governor's pen strikes out dreams


Things must be getting back to normal on Beacon Hill. Lawmakers are holding discussions on how to spend a projected $500 million to $1 billion budget surplus that is likely to be on hand when fiscal year 2004 ends on June 30.

Democrats controlling the pursestrings are leaning toward fattening up government programs hit hard by three years of reductions. Translation: it's time to grow government again.

No wonder Gov. Mitt Romney, a Republican, is girding for a fight....

He also believes it would be a good time for the Legislature to abide by voters' wishes and roll back the income tax to 5 percent. Two years ago, lawmakers put a hold on the roll back because of the poor economy, and it is stuck at 5.3 percent. 

Well, if there's a surplus, shouldn't lawmakers first live up to a promise made to voters and taxpayers before they go ahead and spend it away?

A Lowell Sun editorial
Thursday, June 24, 2004
Give back the surplus


But whether in Upton or some other town, whether for a fire truck, a new school or some other purpose, scheduling an election and hoping only one side turns out is a tactic that undermines local democracy and community trust.

It's a tactic Citizens for Limited Taxation, the group that brought Proposition 2 to Massachusetts 24 years ago, would like to curtail. CLT has filed legislation restricting Proposition 2 overrides to the next scheduled municipal or state election. While this page rarely agrees with CLT, we're with them on this one. Special elections -- especially ones designed to reverse a decision the electorate has already made -- are bad for the political process.

A MetroWest Daily News editorial
Thursday, June 24, 2004
'Secret' elections erode trust


Sen. Joyce said ... The only testimony in opposition was from CLT and we don't put much stock in anything they say, I agree with that....

State House News Service
Senate Session - Wednesday, June 23, 2004
U.S. SENATE VACANCY - SPECIAL ORDER


Chip Ford's CLT Commentary

How about a "moratorium" on the billions of taxpayer dollars being spent on "Education Reform" -- which includes charter schools? The teachers union -- the Massachusetts Teachers Association -- has always opposed the burden of responsibility and accountability under the Act and has vehemently opposed the competition of charter schools. Now that it has so much of our money, why hasn't it called for a halt in further taxpayer funds too? It only opposes its end of the quid pro quo deal.

If we can't afford charter schools for our citizens' children, then how can we possibly afford to subsidize college educations for the children of illegal aliens?

*                    *                    *

According to a May 4 Boston Globe report ("Romney seeks $225m in tax cuts ..."), John McDonough of Health Care for All doesn't believe the voters' mandated tax rollback should be honored as "the state needs to meet its obligations to its needy citizens." Where do he and others of his ilk stand on the Legislature's plan to subsidize state college system tuition payments for illegal aliens, creating an entirely new taxpayer-funded entitlement program; a violation of federal law that could add on tens of millions of dollars?

"A 1996 US law prohibits states from charging undocumented immigrants the lower rate, which in Massachusetts is about $6,800, as opposed to $12,000," the Boston Globe reported on June 16 ("Health is winner in budget talks Funds revive human services"). If Massachusetts opens this Pandora's box, it can't discriminate against out-of-state citizens either: it must charge the same tuition. Do the math!

*                    *                    *

Two endorsements on two issues in one day from two newspapers is pretty good. The Lowell Sun editorialized in favor of the governor's and our call for "unfreezing" the voters' tax rollback. And, the MetroWest Daily News has joined the ranks in support of our "Act to Limit the Financial Burden of Special Elections." Despite what state Sen. "Multiple Choice" Joyce may think to the contrary, we are being heard across the state!

*                    *                    *

Sen. Brian "Multiple Choice" Joyce finally has come clean, for once was honest, when this week while referring to Citizens for Limited Taxation he stated: "We don't put much stock in anything they say, I agree with that."

You might recall the former state rep from Milton, now his district's state senator. Rep. Brian Joyce sought our PAC endorsement as a champion for taxpayers in 1997 when he was "movin' on up to the big time," running for state senator -- and we gave it to him.

Then, he voted against our tax rollback -- and we very publicly yanked it from under him on May 21, 1998. Then, when he took his "Movin' on up" show on road in an unsuccessful run for a U.S, Congress seat, on Jul. 30, 2001 we again reminded the world how he'd earned the monicker "Multiple Choice Joyce" in a news advisory: "Who will the self-proclaimed 'Tax Dragon-Slayer' betray next?" Apparently Brian is suffering from a terminal case of Irish Alzheimers' -- he doesn't forget a grudge!

We don't either, must be the Irishman in Barbara and me too! (With Chip Faulkner, a Republican, it must be simply that "elephants never forget"!)

Chip Ford


The Boston Globe
Saturday, June 26, 2004

Romney vetoes $108.5m in budget
He signs $24.5b state spending plan
By Scott S. Greenberger and Raphael Lewis, Globe Staff


Governor Mitt Romney vetoed $108.5 million yesterday for healthcare contractors, the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, courts, and alcohol- and tobacco-control programs, as he signed a new $24.5 billion state spending plan.

"In scope or scale, they're pretty modest," Romney said of the vetoes, which totaled roughly half of the money he excised from last year's budget. "The areas of consensus among the executive and the legislative branch with regard to the budget are a great deal greater than areas where we disagree."

In addition to striking the $108.5 million, which amounts to less than one-half of 1 percent of the overall budget, Romney also rejected a proposal to allow undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition rates at state colleges and universities and another that would prohibit outsourcing by vendors doing business with the state. He also followed through on his pledge to veto a moratorium on the opening of new charter schools.

Democratic lawmakers, who form a supermajority in the House and Senate that is able to override the governor's veto, vowed to begin the process of overturning most of Romney's vetoes immediately, saying that they "unfairly target the poor" and "restrict economic development."

"Upon first impression, these vetoes are frivolous and harmful," said House Ways and Means chairman John H. Rogers, a Norwood Democrat. "I think the initial reaction will be to override most of these vetoes" before the Legislature breaks at the end of July.

Although Romney vetoed scores of individual line items, he struck only a few big-ticket items. The largest cuts included:

$20 million in additional payments to private contractors working for the state to increase the salaries of so-called "direct care" workers. Romney said increasing wages is important, but that he felt that the budget failed to ensure that the workers, not the companies employing them, would receive the funds.

$10 million for the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, which Romney denounced as an increase that should have been avoided by cost-cutting and reform initiatives.

$7.4 million for the trial court system, including $1.6 million for additional security jobs that Romney has criticized for being earmarked for friends and relatives of Democratic lawmakers.

$5 million in subsidies to eliminate prescription drug copayments for low-income residents. Romney said that all residents, regardless of income, should pay something for prescriptions.

$1.3 million for the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission, which Romney has accused of being a haven for political patronage.

Despite those cuts, Romney was careful yesterday to minimize his differences with Democrats in the House and Senate, saying that the two branches of government had more in common with him than the vetoes make it seem.

"The leadership of both houses and I have the same priorities, I think," Romney said, pointing to budget plans that would stimulate teacher recruitment and increased residential development in town centers.

While many advocacy groups praised Romney for leaving most of the budget untouched, some chafed at the cuts.

Geoffrey W. Wilkinson, executive director of the Massachusetts Public Health Association, called Romney's veto of $1.2 million to implement the new statewide smoking ban "inexplicable" because Romney signed the ban into law only days ago.

"Why would the governor stand up with tobacco advocates last week and support smoke-free workplaces and turn around a week later and veto one-third of the money left to make sure teenagers can't go into the local variety store and buy cigarettes?" Wilkinson asked. "This is a no-brainer for the Legislature."

Similarly, the Massachusetts Teachers Association criticized Romney's veto of a moratorium on creation of new charter schools, which public education advocates say divert badly needed funds from the neediest school districts.

"It is absurd to continue to expand the number of charter schools at the expense of the rest of the state's public schools," said association president Catherine A. Boudreau.

A two-thirds majority in both the House and Senate is needed to overturn vetoes, but the Democrats easily nullified Romney's vetoes last year, in several cases with votes from Republican lawmakers. Because overrides have to originate in the House, Speaker Thomas M. Finneran will play a key role in determining the fate of Romney's objections.

The budget blueprint for fiscal 2005, which begins July 1, is the first in several years that doesn't include severe cuts in popular programs and services or dramatic increases in fees. With state revenues on the rise after a three-year slump, legislative budget writers are proposing modest spending increases in areas such as K-12 education, criminal justice, and various healthcare programs.

That was welcome news to communities still reeling from the cuts of the past.

"This is a good day for the Greater Boston community," said Paul Guzzi, president of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce. "Affordable housing, workforce education, and reasonably priced heathcare matter to everybody, and we applaud the governor and the Legislature for what they have accomplished."

But the spending plan is still a far cry from the heady days of the 1990s. Most agencies will receive no increase in funding, even though costs are soaring, and some individual programs will be cut. Furthermore, the budget does not restore most of the $3 billion in spending cut over the past three fiscal years.

Signs of the state's financial weakness still show in the budget, especially the reliance on about $670 million from "reserves and other money that does not regularly flow into state coffers. Romney said he cut the $108.5 million in part to minimize the amount required to take from reserves.

Romney expressed reluctance in making some of his vetoes, especially one that nullified a plan to let about 400 undocumented immigrants pay in-state tuition rates at state colleges and universities. Supporters argue that it isn't right to punish students who may have been brought here illegally when they were toddlers, but Romney said he doesn't want to encourage illegal immigration.

"I hate the idea of in any way making it more difficult for kids, even those who are illegal aliens, to afford college in our state," Romney said. "But equally, perhaps a little more than equally, I do not want to create an incentive to do something which is illegal."

Ali Noorani, executive director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, blasted Romney for that veto and for cutting benefits and access to health insurance for undocumented immigrants, saying that the cuts would undermine efforts of immigrants to join mainstream society.

"Everybody else sees the immigrant community as an asset to their states and their economies," Noorani said, pointing out that Republican and Democratic governors in Texas, Utah, California, and New York have approved laws enabling undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition rates

In a surprise move, Romney also vetoed a provision barring overseas outsourcing by vendors doing business with the state, even though in March he proposed a $29 million package of incentives designed to discourage Massachusetts companies from moving jobs out of state. Romney said that the plan included in the budget was hastily crafted and would drive away some businesses while failing to create jobs here.

Romney said he would continue his effort to merge the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority with the state Highway Department, even though the Legislature for has dismissed the idea as unworkable and a power grab.

"It's never done," Romney said. "You fight until you win."

Globe correspondent Elise Castelli contributed to this report.

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The Boston Globe
Saturday, June 26, 2004

Romney vetoes freeze on new charter schools
Lawmakers considering an override
By Suzanne Sataline, Globe Correspondent

Governor Mitt Romney, as promised, vetoed a freeze yesterday on the opening of new charter schools, leaving lawmakers to decide whether to override his action or accept his suggested overhaul of charter school funding.

Several members of the House Education Committee said yesterday that they were seriously studying the governor's proposed changes, but could not predict whether enough representatives wanted to override the veto so they would have more time to consider his proposal.

"What they're concerned about is the [funding] formula," said Representative Marie P. St. Fleur, Democrat of Dorchester and chairwoman of the House Education Committee. "The majority of the House is not anticharter. They want equity in the funding."

Romney said yesterday that the moratorium was inconsistent with the Legislature's budget, which included $37 million to reimburse local districts for the money they now send to educate charter school students. The allotment reimburses school systems for the first three years after each student transfers to a charter school. The state had promised in the past that they would be reimbursed, but that has not occurred consistently. The money was cut in the 2004 budget.

Many legislators said that the governor's proposed changes were a good first step, but the lawmakers were divided about the practicality of pushing through changes with one month remaining in the legislative session.

The House originally voted for the moratorium by voice vote, and it would be the first chamber to vote on an override.

The Senate voted 26 to 13 last month to prevent new charter schools from being created or opened through July 2005, until the state overhauls the funding of charter schools.

Romney's proposal, first drafted by Worcester school officials, seeks to address local complaints that charter schools, which operate free of district control, siphon too much money from school system budgets. His plan would save local school districts an estimated $10.5 million in a year by changing the way charter school costs are calculated. The most expensive public school students, including those who need intensive English classes or special education, no longer would be included in the funding formula.

Representative Alice K. Wolf, Democrat of Cambridge, said she wanted to override the governor's veto. "Look. We have maybe a once in 10-year opportunity to fix the financing for charter schools, and we should take a little time to do that," she said.

Other House members said they wanted to work with Romney on his idea.

"The governor has weighed in with a serious proposal, and since there is a potential meeting of the minds right now, we're going to attempt to ... seize the moment," said Representative Brian Golden, Democrat of Allston.

The Massachusetts Association of School Committees urged legislators to keep the moratorium and overhaul the charter school law. Among other objections, the group opposes allowing out-of-state companies to start charter schools.

"We need to get back to where it was an incubator program," where new educational methods were tried, said Paul Schlichtman, the association's president.

Boyce Slayman, a consultant to the five charter schools that would be shut down in the Legislature's budget, said the schools feel that they're hostages. But the governor's plan does not address each local community's concerns, he said.

"What's on the table is not enough," he said. "The school districts feel they are giving up too much money. There's nothing in there to address [the issues of] rural communities."

Representative Stephen P. LeDuc, Republican of Marlborough, said Romney's proposal would not necessarily save all districts money, but would throw $9 million in federal money for charter school buildings into the mix.

"What the governor has done is neutralize a lot of people in favor of a moratorium," he said. "I personally believe we still need a moratorium."

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The MetroWest Daily News
Saturday, June 26, 2004

In America: Governor's pen strikes out dreams
By Miryam Wiley


If children and teenagers represent the future of a country, why do adults refuse to pave the way for a better tomorrow?

Gov. Mitt Romney disappointed plenty of people yesterday when he vetoed the bill to allow eligible immigrant youth to attend colleges paying in-state tuition. He also disappointed many more as he vetoed MassHealth for elderly and disabled immigrants.

"It's really interesting that the governor is turning his back on the immigrant community," said Ali Noorani, executive director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition.

I am upset, and I am outraged. The governor is condemning another generation to wash dishes and clean houses like their hard-working parents instead of having professional jobs. It makes no sense.

Ali Noorani, the son of immigrants from Pakistan, said that states such as Texas, Utah, California, New York, Illinois, Washington, Oklahoma and Kansas have approved bills to allow immigrants access to higher education.

"Those are in many ways Republican states," said Noorani, adding that it is difficult to understand why Romney is turning his back on his constituents.

A student who joined some 200 other immigrant students in Washington to lobby for the bill, couldn't be more shocked at the decision.

"After all we did," said J.B., who asked that her name not be used. She is taking classes at a college in Massachusetts and has made the dean's list with a 3.75 G.P.A. "I am thinking of racism, prejudice and fear of giving an opportunity to people he knows will advance."

It is unfortunate Romney cannot see the advantages of including these students who are ready and willing, especially because some of them don't even know life anywhere outside of the United States. Throughout their many years of school they heard talks of equality and the need to include all people. They were taught to respect the sacrifices of heroes like Martin Luther King Jr. and believed that passing the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System exams was an important ticket to graduation. Suddenly, they are indeed outsiders.

"What country is this that sends its 17-year-olds to die in an unjust war and doesn't support the other ones who are back here?" asks Heloisa Souza, of the High Education Task Force.

"I believe the governor has made an enormous mistake," said Cileine de Lourenco, assistant professor of Latin American Studies at Rhode Island's Bryant College and a board member of the Brazilian Immigrant Center in Allston.

"First of all, the bill is not asking for free tuition. The students would pay for their schooling. Second, the issue of appropriateness appears to be absolutely irrational. These students are undocumented not because they want to be here without papers. Their parents brought them to this country, and they themselves have not violated immigration laws."

According to the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Coalition, known as MIRA, 400 immigrant students graduate from high school every year in the state. Considering tuition costs between $3,000 and $5,000, their college payments could add conservatively $1.2 million dollars to the state's coffers each year, Noorani said.

"Even if you are a businessman and you are thinking the bottom line, this would make business sense," said Noorani.

According to MIRA, in vetoing access to health, the governor guarantees that some 3,000 people in poor health will go to emergency rooms for basic care. In making the choice to exclude students, he is sure to do more than shatter dreams.

"I will not forget this," said Souza, "The governor had a choice, pass or veto. I will make my choice when it's time for elections."

Some 20 million immigrants became American citizens nationwide in 2002. In Massachusetts, some 15,000 of those new citizens were Brazilians, according to data from the immigration department.

Disappointments and all, everyone who worked for this is thinking of the next move. At MIRA, a meeting on Monday will define the next steps. The American way has caught these fighters, and there is a short-lived sense of despair.

"I don't want to fall into the mistake of seeing only the negative," said Souza. "We must look at our achievement."

Lourenco hopes Romney may come to his senses.

"These students want to be productive members of our society," she said. "Giving them a chance is good for all of us. Who knows, by vetoing this bill the governor may be denying us all the chance of having a future scientist who will find the cure for AIDS or cancer. Among immigrant students there might be economists and ethical businessmen and women who will help maintain our economy fair and strong. There might be teachers who will educate our children and guide them through the path of success. There are so many good reasons to pass this law that I can't list them all. Frankly, I don't see how Massachusetts could lose if the governor were to have a change of heart."

To reach Miryam Wiley, e-mail inamericacolumn@yahoo.com

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-- Response by Chip Ford --

To:  inamericacolumn@yahoo.com
From:  Chip Ford
Sent:  Sat 6/26/2004 8:00 AM
Subject:  RE: In America: Governor's pen strikes out dreams

I can't decide if this column was written out of ignorance or intentional deceit, but it doesn't stand up to even a passing scrutiny on any number of points. Perhaps you'd consider all of your readers stupid if none called you on this absurdly twisted advocacy. I for one am not stupid; you did not gull me if that was your intent.

If it was written from ignorance, please allow me to point out the plethora of inconsistencies, inaccuracies and illogic:

Gov. Mitt Romney disappointed plenty of people yesterday when he vetoed the bill to allow eligible immigrant youth to attend colleges paying in-state tuition....

"Eligible" illegal aliens is an oxymoron.


"After all we did," said J.B., who asked that her name not be used. She is taking classes at a college in Massachusetts and has made the dean's list with a 3.75 G.P.A. "I am thinking of racism, prejudice and fear of giving an opportunity to people he knows will advance." ...

Would this example be an anonymous illegal alien already scamming the system? (Unnamed sources always run the risk of being suspect.) With an apology to Dr. Samuel Johnson, the label "racism" is the last resort of the scoundrel, not patriotism.


"What country is this that sends its 17-year-olds to die in an unjust war and doesn't support the other ones who are back here?" asks Heloisa Souza, of the High Education Task Force.

First, you must be 18-years-old to join the U.S. armed services. If illegal aliens or non-citizens join the armed services, they are then eligible for citizenship -- so let them sign up, serve, then come home and enjoy the G.I. Bill and education benefits provided at taxpayer expense like many of us citizens did. Why should they be illegally "back here" complaining about "an unjust war" while U.S. citizens are off fighting and dying in it?


"First of all, the bill is not asking for free tuition. The students would pay for their schooling ..."

Then what's the complaint? They'll simply keep paying for it. That's what the governor's veto provides.


... 400 immigrant students graduate from high school every year in the state....

This is another area that should be explored, this burden of illegal aliens on local and state taxpayers.


Considering tuition costs between $3,000 and $5,000, their college payments could add conservatively $1.2 million dollars to the state's coffers each year, Noorani said.

Again, we're talking about taxpayer subsidy of illegal aliens vs. "the students would pay for their schooling." If illegal aliens are not subsidized, if they "pay for their schooling," the additional burden on taxpayers and state coffers would not be sought. This is not about paying their own way.

This disingenuous column failed to address why illegal aliens should have a financial advantage over out-of-state American citizens; financial advantage is the only thing it's all about -- if honesty had been a consideration.

Your advocacy might have better legs if it were opposing illegal aliens being barred from enrolling in the subsidized state college system -- e.g.., U.S. citizens who fail to sign up for the draft upon turning 18-years-old. (These children of illegal aliens of course have signed up, I must assume.)

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The Lowell Sun
Thursday, June 24, 2004

A Lowell Sun editorial
Give back the surplus


Things must be getting back to normal on Beacon Hill. Lawmakers are holding discussions on how to spend a projected $500 million to $1 billion budget surplus that is likely to be on hand when fiscal year 2004 ends on June 30.

Democrats controlling the pursestrings are leaning toward fattening up government programs hit hard by three years of reductions. Translation: it's time to grow government again.

No wonder Gov. Mitt Romney, a Republican, is girding for a fight.

Romney wants to keep a lid on government expenses, so the mistakes of Massachusetts' free-spending past aren't repeated.

He's got the right idea. A lean-and-mean government is a lot closer to reality today than it was four years ago. But the work isn't done.

Certainly, both the governor and the Legislature deserve credit for setting the right fiscal priorities and policies.

So why blow it now?

Could election year politics be the reason?

If it is, Romney's got the upper hand.

The governor believes a significant portion of the state's budget surplus should be returned to cities and towns.

He also believes it would be a good time for the Legislature to abide by voters' wishes and roll back the income tax to 5 percent. Two years ago, lawmakers put a hold on the roll back because of the poor economy, and it is stuck at 5.3 percent. 

Well, if there's a surplus, shouldn't lawmakers first live up to a promise made to voters and taxpayers before they go ahead and spend it away?

To residents of Dracut, Tyngsboro, and Lowell, Romney's windfall would take the sting out of deep budget cuts that have wreacked havoc on schools and other public services.

Last week, Dracut was forced to strip $1 million in programs from its 2005 school budget. Two days ago, Tyngsboro eliminated $70,000 in school sports and extra-curricular programs as part of a total $435,000 budget cutback. A year ago, Lowell schools cut $3.5 million in programs that haven't been recovered.

The scenario is the same across the state. All municipalities could use a little extra dough heading into the new fiscal year. And taxpayers could use a boost too.

Lawmakers shouldn't turn the surplus into a political football. They should work with Gov. Romney to return the unanticipated gains to the rightful recipients the people.

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The MetroWest Daily News
Thursday, June 24, 2004

A MetroWest Daily News editorial
'Secret' elections erode trust

Six weeks ago, Upton voters at the annual town election rejected a property tax override to buy a new fire truck. Town officials wouldn't take "no" for an answer, and scheduled a special election for this week.

With a single question on the ballot, it was a quiet day at the polls. Just 313 voters came out, and it's a wonder that even that many bothered. It's the first week of school vacation, a time people aren't used to voting. There were no lawn signs, no mass mailings encouraging people either for or against the override. Newspapers announced the election in small stories on inside pages if at all.

You might call it a secret election, which something Massachusetts is seeing far too much.

Low turnout in any election is a sign of an unhealthy civic democracy, and low turnout in a special -- meaning unscheduled -- election is not unusual. What's insidious about some special elections we've seen is when officials and activists encourage a low turnout. The strategy, we fear, is to hold an election only those favoring the single question on the ballot will know about -- and hope the opponents don't find out about it until the polls have closed.

As it turns out, the Upton voters who managed to come out to the polls said "no" again to raising taxes to borrow money for a $348,000 fire truck. They may have felt the just-opened $3.5 million fire station should be enough to satisfy the firefighters for awhile, or maybe they were irritated that town officials had tried to slip a secret election by them.

But whether in Upton or some other town, whether for a fire truck, a new school or some other purpose, scheduling an election and hoping only one side turns out is a tactic that undermines local democracy and community trust.

It's a tactic Citizens for Limited Taxation, the group that brought Proposition 2 to Massachusetts 24 years ago, would like to curtail. CLT has filed legislation restricting Proposition 2 overrides to the next scheduled municipal or state election. While this page rarely agrees with CLT, we're with them on this one. Special elections -- especially ones designed to reverse a decision the electorate has already made -- are bad for the political process.

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State House News Service
Senate Session - Wednesday, June 23, 2004


CONVENES: The Senate convened at 11:01 am, Sen. Robert Havern of Arlington presiding.

RECESSES: The Senate immediately recessed, intending to return at 11:15 am.

RETURNS: The Senate returned at 11:37 am, Sen. Travaglini presiding.

PLEDGE: Senators and guests rose and recited the Pledge of Allegiance.

US SENATE VACANCY - SPECIAL ORDER: Question came on an order pursuant to rules 13a and 63 offered by the Committee on Ethics and Rules calling for consideration forthwith of S 2404 filling of US senator and representative vacancies. The order also calls for the suspension of several rules, for the matter to reach final conclusion in the same session and for debate to be limited to two hours....

Sen. Lees said: The senator called what happened with Gov. Furcolo and Sen. Kennedy shenanigans. I think that is a slam on Ted Kennedy and I am outraged by it. You always jump up when I say things about people and he is saying Ted Kennedy is a fraud. He talks about 1913. We are changing that back so that we choose the person. They are all falling over each other to run. John Kennedy appointed his brother as AG. Sen. Joyce I am sure would have thought that was a good move. Sen. Lees requested a roll call and there was support.

BY A ROLL CALL VOTE OF 7-32, ORDER NOT LAID ON THE TABLE

Sen. Joyce said: To the distinguished minority leader for life, I was speaking to the Republican administration of 1944 as shenanigans. Clearly there are politics at play no matter which side of the aisle you sit on. Clearly if we had a Democratic governor, the situation would be different. It is clear and unequivocal that it is more democratic to let the people vote rather than have one person make the appointment. The only testimony in opposition was from CLT and we don't put much stock in anything they say, I agree with that....

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