and the
Citizens Economic Research Foundation

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

H.2840, Higher Property Taxes
instead of Deval Patrick’s “Property tax relief”

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.

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