and the
Citizens Economic Research Foundation

Monday, April 1, 2008

What fools some legislators must think we citizens be!

To:  Members of the General Court
        April 1, 2008
Re:  What fools some legislators must think we citizens be!

, to prohibit compensating people for signatures obtained on initiative and referendum petitions. First of all, this has been tried elsewhere and judged unconstitutional. Second, though second isn’t necessary when something is unconstitutional, CLT has never paid petitioners, mostly because we don’t have the money, but so what if we did? The point is to place an issue before the voters, who can then hear debate on both sides and make a decision to create or repeal a law.

S.436, to strengthen petition anti-fraud safeguards, which recognizes it cannot prohibit compensating people for signatures, but tries to address "fraud." While a few petitioners may try to mislead signers, all the latter have to do is read the top of the petition, where the Secretary of State prints an official summary. As CLT’s Chip Faulkner has noted, you have to have the IQ of an eggplant to sign the wrong petition. Most of us petition signers know exactly what we are doing: placing a controversial issue on the ballot for voters to decide after much debate.

If everyone is concerned about fraud, how about a bill preventing a candidate for governor from telling voters he will create property tax relief, and he won’t support a gas tax because gas is over $2 a gallon – without telling voters that "property tax relief" will be a meals tax and casinos, and he will consider a gas tax when gas is over $3 a gallon?

Speaking of property taxes: H.4534, the bill exempting senior citizens from paying Prop 2˝ overrides that was passed by the House is bad enough. Now, with many Senators balking at making families pay the seniors’ share, some proponents want to expand the bill to exempt even more voters from the tax increase! We say "No representation without taxation." And are happy that legislative leaders are considering vital reforms instead of broad tax hikes.

CLT applauds the DiMasi proposal for a Municipal Audit Bureau to oversee local aid, and hopes this bureau will be controlled by the Division of Local Services. We applaud proposals to limit police details; as CLT’s Chip Ford predicts, "Once the first flagman plants his flag in the soil of Massachusetts, the iron grip of police union intimidation will have been finally broken." Then perhaps you can also remove the union veto from community decision-making on health insurance and pensions.

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