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CLT UPDATE
Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Season's Greetings


Senate President Stanley Rosenberg hinted at 2017 agenda items Tuesday, highlighting climate change, housing, education funding, and economic issues for low- and middle-income families while not dismissing the possibility of raising taxes to help pay for those initiatives.

"We still have some huge needs around housing and homelessness, we haven't done a multi-year commitment to education funding in a long time, we did improve funding on transportation but there's still a big gap compared to what people want us to deliver, and let's not forget the opioid heroin crisis," he said....

Asked whether the Legislature might hike taxes to raise the revenue to pay for the litany of issues he laid out, Rosenberg said, "We have to think about what we need, what it's going to cost and do we have the revenue to support it." ...

Last week, House Speaker Robert DeLeo said he was "not ruling out" the possibility of raising taxes, while Gov. Charlie Baker said he would work to dissuade DeLeo and Rosenberg from pursuing tax hikes.

Rosenberg, when asked Tuesday about tax increases being "on the table" clarified that, "Taxes aren't quote on the table. They're just not off the table." ...

Lawmakers last raised taxes in 2013, hiking the cost of a gallon of gas by 3 cents and a pack of cigarettes by $1. Four years before that, at the nadir of the Great Recession, lawmakers increased the sales tax to 6.25 percent, up from 5 percent.

On the issue of taxes, Rosenberg said that his chamber is ready to pursue tax reform in Massachusetts, specifically related to the state's flat income tax.

"We are prepared to work on making our tax system more progressive," he said, specifically citing "a lot of pretty big tax loopholes" and the impact of the income tax on low- and middle-income families as problematic. "Basically we have a 19th and 20th century tax system for a 21st century economy. We could stand to take a hard look at it to see if we can make it fairer and more progressive."

State House News Service
Tuesday, December 13, 2016
Rosenberg ticks off focus areas for legislating in 2017


The fact that revenue growth remains slow at a time when more people are working than at possibly anytime in the state's history demonstrates, according to Baker, that he and lawmakers need to be careful about excessive spending.

Baker said numbers suggest to him an "underlying softness to what people are making and earning" and serve as a reminder that reaching for additional revenue through broad-based tax increases would be a mistake.

Baker's messaging on taxes, however, is sure to be read with a magnifying glass by legislative leaders, particularly those in the House like DeLeo who, for the first time in several years, have not yet reflexively ruled out tax hikes.

"If the Legislature wants to flatten the tax code or make other kinds of adjustments to close loopholes and do other stuff like that then I'm open to that," Baker said. "But if you're asking me if I would support an across-the-board tax increase on working families here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts the answer to that one is no, I would veto that."

So begins the guessing game of what kind of tax hikes he would support, or at least not fight (AirBnb?) and what he will oppose (gas tax?).

State House News Service
Friday, December 16, 2016
Weekly Roundup ó Recap and analysis of the week in state government
By Matt Murphy


The thought of state Rep. Paul Heroux running anything above the level of a lemonade stand is laughable ó unless, given his record, you don't mind higher taxes and spending...

In the four years he has been Attleboro's state representative, his legislative record on taxes has been abysmal. Over two biennial taxpayer ratings consisting of 40 votes on tax-related issues, the Attleboro Democrat has received a 20 percent rating according to Citizens for Limited Taxation....

The only thing Rep. Heroux could run is the city into the ground, if he ever got his hands on a municipal budget.

The Attleboro Sun-Chronicle
Saturday, December 17, 2016
Letter to the editor by Chip Faulkner
Communications Director
Citizens for Limited Taxation


Like most local elected officials, [State Rep. Denise] Garlickís world revolves around the Tís her constituents care about: Town. Trees. Teens. Troubles. Trains. So it didnít take her long to realize that these eight minutes were serious business.

But social media isnít what got her moving. Garlick says what she reacts to, what really sticks in her gut, is conversation. And in this case, it was the heartfelt phone chats and face-to-face interactions she had in the supermarket or at one of her favorite breakfast haunts in Needham, Fresco. Those, more than anything, set in motion the meetings she arranged that ultimately led to this note coming from her office a few months later: ďGreat News! Town of Needham Commuter Rail Riders! Starting November 21, 2016, the 8:02 am (Train #606) from Needham Heights will return!Ē ...

Over a grilled corn muffin at Fresco, Garlick explains. Itís simple, she says. Talk, donít just tweet. Call, donít just post. Join, donít ignore. Picking up the phone and sharing your story with your representative, introducing yourself at a public meeting and speaking out, organizing a 5K in support of a cause, all of those dwarf the impact any Facebook post, e-mail, or tweet will have....

That computer in your pocket is an amazing device. It tells you how to avoid a traffic jam, when the Red Sox traded for an ace, and it reminds you to pick up toothpaste on the way home. But itís most powerful as a telephone. So the next time youíre angry, go ahead, post it, tweet it, e-mail it. But after that, dial your rep, or better yet, buy her a corn muffin, so you can really be heard.

The Boston Globe
Thursday, December 15, 2016
The trick to getting politicians to listen is simple


Chip Ford's CLT Commentary

As we approach Christmas 2016 with a new year on the horizon I'd like to thank those of you who've made a generous end-of-year contribution to Citizens for Limited Taxation.  That gift has allowed CLT to keep plugging along for you and all taxpayers through year's end and into 2017.  If you haven't yet, you can still mail us a much-needed contribution from the package we sent you, or make one by credit card here, as CLT's financial situation is still touch-and-go.

As you can read in the news reports included in this Update and from those we included in previous recent Updates, the Democrat leadership on Beacon Hill already has tax increases up for consideration.  Such consideration this early ó before the next Legislature is even officially sworn in and seated next month ó does not bode well for us taxpayers.  It seems the discussion is not so much whether higher taxes are to be imposed but which ones they can get away with easiest.

That's our Legislature's holiday message.

The political trick is to quickly pass tax increases early in a new two-year legislative term with the hope that voters will forget the cause of their pain by the time legislators stand for re-election.

State revenue growth remains slow, despite more people working, because the income of working people is and has been stagnant if not lower.  Gov. Baker recognized this, pointing to an "underlying softness to what people are making and earning."  In light of this, he advised against raising additional revenue through broad-based tax increases, such as the income, sales, or gas taxes.

The Department of Revenue yesterday reported that tax collections over the first two weeks of December were up by $39 million over the same period last year, a 4 percent increase in over-the-year tax collections.  Still that is not enough for Bacon Hill spenders.  More Is Never Enough (MINE) and never will be.  No matter how much they take from us, they manage to spend more than comes in.  "There's always more where that came from" is the attitude.  That's just the nature of the beast, and what we're up against.

In closing, I'm passing on some good advice from the Boston Globe's Doug Most ("The trick to getting politicians to listen is simple") that you as activists will find useful and effective:

That computer in your pocket is an amazing device.  It tells you how to avoid a traffic jam, when the Red Sox traded for an ace, and it reminds you to pick up toothpaste on the way home.  But itís most powerful as a telephone.  So the next time youíre angry, go ahead, post it, tweet it, e-mail it.  But after that, dial your rep, or better yet, buy her a corn muffin, so you can really be heard.

If I don't get a chance again before the holidays arrive, we at Citizens for Limited Taxation wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah, and a Happy and Prosperous New Year.  At the very least, the coming new year promises much excitement!

P.S.  Barbara and I used the Christmas holly graphic (above) every Christmas in the heading of her Christmas letter to her family and closest friends.  Each year sheíd write her letter then Iíd format it, add graphics and photos, and get it printed; sheíd include it along with each card she sent.  I thought Iíd roll it out one more time for this.

Chip Ford
Executive Director


 
State House News Service
Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Rosenberg ticks off focus areas for legislating in 2017
By Colin A. Young


Senate President Stanley Rosenberg hinted at 2017 agenda items Tuesday, highlighting climate change, housing, education funding, and economic issues for low- and middle-income families while not dismissing the possibility of raising taxes to help pay for those initiatives.

"We still have some huge needs around housing and homelessness, we haven't done a multi-year commitment to education funding in a long time, we did improve funding on transportation but there's still a big gap compared to what people want us to deliver, and let's not forget the opioid heroin crisis," he said.

Rosenberg also added, "Of course, we're going to continue to work on economic issues for all folks, but particular for low- and moderate-income people."

Rosenberg said he also expects the Senate to focus in 2017 on an issue that held Beacon Hill's attention for much of the current session: energy. That work led to a law giving hydropower and offshore wind prominent roles in the state's energy mix, but Rosenberg said the legislative work on energy is not done.

"We made a lot of progress in this term but we have to continue to deal with greening our energy supply, dealing with climate change," Rosenberg said on Boston Herald Radio, adding that climate change "really threatens the stability of our economy if we can't deal effectively with sea rise and with severe weather conditions, so that's got to be one of the big focuses."

Asked whether the Legislature might hike taxes to raise the revenue to pay for the litany of issues he laid out, Rosenberg said, "We have to think about what we need, what it's going to cost and do we have the revenue to support it."

At a revenue outlook hearing held last week, estimates of state tax revenue growth provided by economists, analysts and others ranged from 2.65 percent to 5.2 percent for fiscal year 2018. Baker administration officials and legislative leaders need to agree on a consensus revenue estimate in January.

Last week, House Speaker Robert DeLeo said he was "not ruling out" the possibility of raising taxes, while Gov. Charlie Baker said he would work to dissuade DeLeo and Rosenberg from pursuing tax hikes.

Rosenberg, when asked Tuesday about tax increases being "on the table" clarified that, "Taxes aren't quote on the table. They're just not off the table."

"I know in your world that may mean the same," he told Morning Meeting hosts Hillary Chabot and Jaclyn Cashman, "but in our world it doesn't mean exactly the same thing."

Lawmakers last raised taxes in 2013, hiking the cost of a gallon of gas by 3 cents and a pack of cigarettes by $1. Four years before that, at the nadir of the Great Recession, lawmakers increased the sales tax to 6.25 percent, up from 5 percent.

On the issue of taxes, Rosenberg said that his chamber is ready to pursue tax reform in Massachusetts, specifically related to the state's flat income tax.

"We are prepared to work on making our tax system more progressive," he said, specifically citing "a lot of pretty big tax loopholes" and the impact of the income tax on low- and middle-income families as problematic. "Basically we have a 19th and 20th century tax system for a 21st century economy. We could stand to take a hard look at it to see if we can make it fairer and more progressive."
 

The Attleboro Sun-Chronicle
Saturday, December 17, 2016
Letters to the editor


To the editor:

The thought of state Rep. Paul Heroux running anything above the level of a lemonade stand is laughable ó unless, given his record, you don't mind higher taxes and spending ("Heroux mulls run for mayor," Dec. 12 ).

In the four years he has been Attleboro's state representative, his legislative record on taxes has been abysmal. Over two biennial taxpayer ratings consisting of 40 votes on tax-related issues, the Attleboro Democrat has received a 20 percent rating according to Citizens for Limited Taxation. In other words he has voted against the taxpayers 80 percent of the time - favoring them on only eight of 40 votes. One of Rep. Heroux's votes was in favor of the graduated income tax - a constitutional amendment likely headed for the 2018 statewide ballot. The last time the grad tax was on the ballot in 1994, Attleboro voters rejected it soundly by a 71-29 percent vote ó even higher than the statewide vote of 69-31 percent. This vote alone shows how out of touch he is with his own constituency ó yet he's thinking of a mayoral run?

The only thing Rep. Heroux could run is the city into the ground, if he ever got his hands on a municipal budget.

Chip Faulkner
Attleboro
Communications Director
Citizens for Limited Taxation


The Boston Globe
Thursday, December 15, 2016

The trick to getting politicians to listen is simple
Whether you need a pothole fix, or a champion for your deepest beliefs, give your grandparentsí method a try.
By Doug Most


Eight minutes. Itís not a long time. You can scramble up a couple of eggs and toast in eight minutes. You can read this essay in eight minutes. You can even have a meaningful conversation in eight minutes.

But when eight minutes gets lopped off your morning routine with no warning, thatís when you realize how important they are. Getting the kids to school is more rushed. The lines on the T or the expressway feel like they never move. That morning meeting downtown is harder to make.

Denise Garlick, a state representative for a trio of metrowest towns, learned this year just how important a lousy eight minutes can be to her constituents. That she helped restore those eight minutes to their lives is an example of how local government can, and should, work. But the fact that Garlick chose to act so swiftly on this particular issue, of all the items on her long to-do list, is an especially valuable civics lesson in todayís political climate.

So letís all learn from it.

Back in the spring, the MBTA and its commuter rail operator, Keolis, moved the 8:02 a.m. inbound train from Needham Heights to 8:10. Big whoop, right? Suck it up, suburbanites, and deal. Well, if you rely on that 8:02 to get downtown by 8:50 so you can attend a daily 9 a.m. meeting, and now you canít arrive till 9:10 or 9:15, that means you have to take the train a half-hour earlier. Except your kids canít be dropped off at school before 8. So now what? Or if you hop off the train at Ruggles to teach a 9 a.m. class at Northeastern, now you have to drive and pay for parking. Or if you normally see patients at Brigham and Womenís at 9, now you canít start till 9:15, which means your day ó and theirs ó has to start later.

When weíre angry about a delayed flight, or our cable companyís customer service, or a restaurantís failure to refill our water glass, we take to the Web and sound off, hoping for likes and retweets. And in Needham, I joined in that chorus in the days and weeks after the schedule change. Facebook and Twitter lit up with venom. E-mails were fired off to Keolis, the MBTA, and to Denise Garlick.

Like most local elected officials, Garlickís world revolves around the Tís her constituents care about: Town. Trees. Teens. Troubles. Trains. So it didnít take her long to realize that these eight minutes were serious business.

But social media isnít what got her moving. Garlick says what she reacts to, what really sticks in her gut, is conversation. And in this case, it was the heartfelt phone chats and face-to-face interactions she had in the supermarket or at one of her favorite breakfast haunts in Needham, Fresco. Those, more than anything, set in motion the meetings she arranged that ultimately led to this note coming from her office a few months later: ďGreat News! Town of Needham Commuter Rail Riders! Starting November 21, 2016, the 8:02 am (Train #606) from Needham Heights will return!Ē

I celebrated, I admit it. But after that I wanted to understand how government can seem useless and dismissive of public concerns one day and reverse a bungled decision so smartly and efficiently the next.

Over a grilled corn muffin at Fresco, Garlick explains. Itís simple, she says. Talk, donít just tweet. Call, donít just post. Join, donít ignore. Picking up the phone and sharing your story with your representative, introducing yourself at a public meeting and speaking out, organizing a 5K in support of a cause, all of those dwarf the impact any Facebook post, e-mail, or tweet will have.

ďPeople need to figure things out together,Ē she tells me, ďinstead of figuring them out in isolation.Ē

When Garlick wants to make a point about how governmentís working or, as it may be, not working, she has this little exercise she goes through: When speaking to a group about advocacy and citizen empowerment, sheíll ask everyone in her audience to stand up. And then sheíll begin a series of questions.

Are you a registered voter? Everyone remains standing.

Do you vote in every election ó local, state, federal? A big group sits.

Do you belong to a community group or local organization? Another group sits.

Do you know your state representative? Sheepish looks all around.

By now, Garlick, who was elected in 2010, can usually count on two hands those still standing. ďAnd those numbers are diminishing,Ē she says.

Somehow, the basics that used to be obligatory, just standard business in a democracy, began to be seen as all that is required of us. Voting, reading, and sounding off, we should be doing those things. Go ahead and post an Election Day selfie, but you canít stop there.

That computer in your pocket is an amazing device. It tells you how to avoid a traffic jam, when the Red Sox traded for an ace, and it reminds you to pick up toothpaste on the way home. But itís most powerful as a telephone. So the next time youíre angry, go ahead, post it, tweet it, e-mail it. But after that, dial your rep, or better yet, buy her a corn muffin, so you can really be heard.

Doug Most, a former editor of the Globe Magazine, is the Globeís director of strategic growth initiatives.

 

NOTE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml


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