and the
Citizens Economic Research Foundation

October 15, 2004

Senate Bill 2221
October Surprise Sneak-Attack on Proposition 2

How cute. A bill to prevent the use of taxpayer dollars to influence a Yes vote on Proposition 2 override. Who knew they cared?

Since the court decision in "Anderson vs. City of Boston," taxpayer dollars cannot be used to influence a Yes vote on any ballot question. All we need now is a stiff penalty for violation.

This bill contains such a penalty. That one paragraph would be enough.

But what is the rest of the bill? Aha, an exclusion from the law for local officials, who would now be allowed to send out taxpayer-funded information supporting an override! Sort of like the Secretary of State does with his voter information booklet on statewide ballot questions. But the difference is that the SoS isn't usually the entity that created the ballot question. Even if he were, there are checks and balances that are missing or delayed in this bill. The city/town solicitor controls the entire process, and decides who in town is a "proper" adversary entitled to put forth opposing arguments. An ad-hoc taxpayer group would not necessarily be invited to apply.

According to Ted Tripp, president of the North Andover Taxpayers Association, "This is insidious legislation. The big difference between the state and local process is that on the state level, binding ballot questions are brought forward not by government but by citizens through the initiative petition process. At the municipal level, the ballot question is most likely put forward by the local government looking for more money. Thus, this provision unfairly aids well-organized local governments, some with paid administrators and staff, at the expense of their volunteer citizens who struggle to oppose overrides."

Citizens for Limited Taxation is strongly opposed to this bill, and urges Governor Romney to veto it. We will file legislation in December creating the penalty for violating existing law, and that is all that is needed. We will then look forward to a formal session and a roll call vote on real reform legislation.


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