To: Members of the General Court
February 6, 2008
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Ruth Balser, was noted in this
week’s State House News Service stating that “the plan was
hatched after both sides of a contentious, successful
override vote in Newton got together and brainstormed about
ways to help elderly homeowners. ‘We can give municipalities
certain options that give them certain flexibility over how
they raise revenue,’” she said.
What a coincidence, that Newton will probably be looking for
another override this year for its $186 million (for
starters) new high school, and needs another “hatched plan”
(scheme) to get it to pass – giving seniors a reason to stay
home because they won’t have to pay for it. How schemey, how
cynical, how cute –as is Mayor Cohen’s insistence that the
override isn’t for the school, but for unrelated city
operating expenses while Newton builds the most expensive
public school edifice in the commonwealth if not the world.
Citizens for Limited Taxation takes second place to no one
in its concern for senior citizens facing unaffordable
property taxes. When we placed Proposition 2½ on the 1980
ballot, we were especially aware of the relief it would
provide seniors and others on fixed incomes.
But some communities are passing overrides without regard to
lower- or fixed-income people, of all ages, who cannot
afford them. When we created an override provision, we
anticipated that it would be used for emergencies and
unusual circumstances, not for operating budgets year after
year. We did not envision local officials giving their
unions extraordinary pension and health insurance benefits
that would become “fixed costs,” paid for by taxpayers with
high fixed costs of their own.
Though focused on senior citizens, we intended to limit
property taxes for all citizens. We are opposed to new bills
that give a break to seniors at the expense of young
families with mortgages, family healthcare expenses, future
college tuition and their own retirement savings. This is
clearly meant to encourage seniors to stay home, thereby
helping overrides pass – at which time the other burdened
taxpayers would have to pick up the seniors’ share of the
new higher taxes.
Governor Patrick ran on property tax relief, not higher
taxes for everyone but seniors. If this passes, an honorable
governor would veto it. But just in case, we appreciate the
ongoing support that the Legislature in general has shown
for Prop 2½, the senior citizens’ best friend, and hope that
you will vote “No” on H.2840.