and the
Citizens Economic Research Foundation

September 8, 2004

CLT’s quest for the "unfolding strategy"
on income tax rollback

July 1989 – The Legislature passed a "temporary" income tax hike, raising the rate above the traditional 5 percent.

November 2000 – Voters passed the income tax rollback ballot question by 59-41 percent, mandating that the rate be finally phased back down to 5 percent by 2003.

Summer 2002 – The rate was frozen at 5.3 percent by the Legislature because of the latest "fiscal crisis."

Spring 2004 – The "fiscal crisis" was over, the state is running a multi-million dollar surplus. Governor Romney proposed defrosting the freeze as the Senate began debate on the FY’05 state budget. Republicans suddenly withdrew the governor’s amendment. Senator Lees said that vote will be taken during the FY’04 supplemental budget debate. Senator Knapik wrote to a constituent that he wishes folks would "check with their legislators as to how the strategies unfold" before criticizing senate Republicans."

Summer 2004 – Governor Romney filed his supplemental budget with the income tax rollback. The House Ways & Means Committee removed his rollback language. CLT contacted senate Republicans in search of the "unfolding strategy." They can’t find it. Senate Minority Leader Lees said the rollback will have to wait until next year.

CLT’s strategy would be for any one legislator to object to voting on a supplemental budget in an informal session. This would require legislators to return from their extended vacation for a formal session, during which the Ways & Means Committee budget would be amended, as promised, by Senators Lees, Knapik and others, to include the rollback. Then the rollback language would return some of the state surplus to taxpayers, or legislative challengers would have a roll call vote to use against incumbents who do not respect the democratic decision of voters on ballot questions.

Since no one on Beacon Hill seems to want to advance this strategy, we must assume that all incumbents lack respect for the voters: they won’t rollback the "temporary" income tax rate as mandated by their constituents the voters, they won’t show up for work though the taxpayers are paying their salaries and perks, and they don’t want their constituents to see a roll call vote on this issue.

CLT’s 2½ PAC has endorsed 60 challengers so far who have taken the "No New Taxes" Taxpayer Protection Pledge and are running on respect for the voters. We anticipate that they will use the cowardly avoidance of a roll call vote on the tax rollback against their opponents this fall.

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