and the
Citizens Economic Research Foundation

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

"Hell Yes!  Question 1"
Because opposition logo gives the finger to taxpayers again

Hi Massachusetts Media.  Now that we are in campaign season, we want you to have background on CLT’s support for Question One.

Since we have been the leading grassroots taxpayer organization for limited taxation for over thirty years, some assume that we are the force behind Question 1.  In fact, we learned about it when you did, when the petition was filed. Though CLT staffers signed the petition and some CLT activists collected signatures, the credit for getting this question on the ballot belongs entirely to Carla Howell and her Committee for Small Government.

Official statements and campaign material are theirs.  CLT has a slightly different perspective, best expressed by the bumper sticker we have created for our own activists:  "Hell Yes! Question 1" (the idea courtesy of Peter Blute on WCRN-AM).  Our reasons for supporting Question 1 are listed at the end of this advisory in a memo we sent to CLT members this month.

There is also the argument that "the enemy of our enemy is our friend."  We note that the "No on 1" logo, a thumbs down sign, uses the wrong digit pointing the wrong way.  We taxpayers have often seen a finger from the public employee unions flashed at us.  As usual, they are spending big money to defeat a ballot question, as they did with CLT’s Proposition 2˝ and 2000 state income tax rollback.


CLT’s Number One enemy, the Massachusetts Teachers Association, has a quote from me [Barbara Anderson] on its website, implying that I am opposed to Question 1 because I recognize that the commonwealth is already heading for fiscal crisis.  "She told Commonwealth magazine last fall:  ‘[It’s] not just the usual ‘the sky is falling’ that you hear all the time.  This time I think the sky really is going to fall’."

So far, accurately quoted.  However, the MTA for some reason neglected to continue my thought.  Commonwealth further wrote, "Anderson sees it as a spending problem, with communities unable or unwilling to get a handle on things like public employee salaries and benefits."  I would now add: maybe a yes vote on Carla’s income tax repeal will help communities, and Beacon Hill, get that handle.  Without it, duck! -- here comes the sky.

Union leader Bobby Haynes says that "elimination of the state income tax would be the end of the commonwealth of Massachusetts as we know it".  (Worcester T&G, 9/1, 2008)

Yes, with any luck.  The commonwealth of Massachusetts "as we know it" needs to be ended, so a better commonwealth can take its place.

Memo to Citizens for Limited Taxation members
From Barbara Anderson

Question One on the ballot in November is an initiative petition to repeal the state income tax over two years.  It is not a CLT initiative:  it was created by Carla Howell and her Committee for Small Government.  If it passes on November 4th, it becomes law:  The income tax rate for Tax Year 2009 will be 2.65%, and for 2010 -- 0%.  This new law can be repealed only by a majority vote in both the House and Senate, then the governor’s signature.

If anyone asks you why CLT supports Question One:

1. We have tried everything else to make the Commonwealth a better place for taxpayers to live.  We have lobbied, petitioned, campaigned, formed a PAC to support better legislative candidates, created a website, issued news releases, done talk radio, and written letters and columns.  We have supported campaigns for tax limits, tax cuts, term limits, a part-time Legislature, legislative rules reform, prevailing wage repeal, and education choice.  We have attacked, cajoled, praised when possible, and pleaded for fiscal responsibility.  We have held it all together for over thirty years but government in Massachusetts has reached the point of no accountability.  The system exists not to provide services but to serve itself.  Something has to be done and Question One is the only game in town:  the only way to save the Commonwealth from its corrupt and irresponsible politics.  We deserve better and Question 1 will demand that.

2. We are angry.  Since the "temporary" income tax increase in 1989, we worked very hard to restore the 5% income tax rate – and finally succeeded with a "responsible" three year phased-in rollback passed by the voters in 2000.  The Legislature repealed our roll-back in 2002, leaving the rate again "temporarily" at 5.3%.  If the politicians won’t keep their promise of 5%, then let’s go for zero.

3. We envy New Hampshire with its very different political culture, its part-time Legislature – due to the absence of not only an income tax, but a sales tax as well.  Though NH property taxes are 3rd highest per household in the nation, MA is also high at 8th; and our total per capita state and local revenues are 5th compared to NH at 47th.  Yet NH services seem to be as good as ours or better.  Eight other states also do not have a personal income tax:  Alaska, Florida, Nevada, S. Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and Wyoming.  Yet they provide public safety, education, infrastructure.

4. We can use the money.  If there is no income tax, we will have more for ourselves and our families.  We can apply our income tax money to our health insurance and pensions plans, instead of supporting extraordinary benefits for government workers.  We can choose to support charities that do a better, more efficient job than the state in helping others.  We can apply our savings to our property taxes, thereby helping Gov. Deval Patrick keep his pledge of "property tax relief."  Check your personal 2007 state tax return to estimate your savings.  If Question 1 passes, you won’t see that form after 2010.

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