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Saturday, September 9, 2017

Grad Tax Opposition Campaign Comes Together

"The proposed historic tax increase represents an unprecedented move to shelter elected politicians from accountability for taxation and spending policies," Massachusetts High Technology Council President Christopher Anderson said in a statement released immediately after the vote. "But before the special-interest backed measure, which would prove disastrous to our goals of economic growth and job creation, heads to the ballot - it must first pass constitutional muster. We believe it will fail that test."

State House News Service
June 14, 2017

"We are confident that after an inevitable review by the Supreme Judicial Court, it will be found to violate the longstanding constitutional limitations applicable to ballot initiatives of this type."

Statement by the Massachusetts High Technology Council
June 14, 2017

The proponents have set a tax trap built on false assumptions and misleading arguments. Consider:

1. Massachusetts state and local spending is the 7th highest (per capita) in America. The state budget will hit $40 billion this year and has more than doubled between FY 2001 and FY 2017, a growth rate that far outpaces inflation. Total state revenues in 2016 were $4.7 billion more than they were just 5 years earlier.

2. Claims that the new tax revenues will be dedicated to support education and infrastructure are patently false. Earmarking funds via ballot initiative is prohibited by the state constitution. Any funds raised by the new tax will be available for any purpose the legislature decides at any time, now or in the future.

3. The proposal sets a dangerous and divisive precedent. No other state permanently imposes a specific income tax rate on a specific group of taxpayers through its constitution. Using the popular vote for this purpose will encourage other special interest groups to pursue similar constitutional amendments in the future clearly eroding the legislature’s sole power to appropriate. The authors of our state constitution did not intend for ballot initiative process to be misused in this way.

The Massachusetts High Technology Council, Massachusetts Competitive Partnership, Associated Industries of Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, and other like-minded organizations and individuals are advancing a sound strategy to challenge this onerous proposal.

Massachusetts High Technology Council

Chip Ford's CLT Commentary

CLT invited leaders of a number of statewide organizations with an interest in defeating the Graduated Income Tax constitution amendment on the November 2018 ballot to meet with us yesterday.


Click on image to enlarge
MTF's Eileen McAnneny addressing the audience of activist group leaders

The conference was scheduled to convene following Chip Faulkner's 9:00 AM monthly Friday Morning Group (FMG) meeting of center-right activists and groups.  The FMG meeting featured Eileen McAnneny, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, who provided us with MTF's position on the Grad Tax and an update on the court challenge of its constitutionality being filed by the Massachusetts High Tech Council.  MTF has signed on as one of the plaintiffs opposing its legality.  The challenge will be filed with the court very soon, within weeks.

Following her presentation I spoke about the importance of defeating this Grad Tax assault for the sixth time.  (CLT led the campaigns to successfully defeat it on the ballot in 1976 then again in 1994.)  I explained how, since 1962, this has like clockwork become almost a twenty-year cycle, like a biblical plague of locust.


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MTF's Eileen McAnneny


"The Takers are a patient and relentless lot who have everything to gain and nothing to lose," I said.  They just keep coming back over and over for another bite out of us.  The last time — their fifth attempt — they gave up on a straightforward graduated income tax they'd failed to impose on their four previous assaults.  In 1994 they utilized a different ploy to divide-and-conquer taxpayers:  They would replace our flat income tax in the state constitution with a graduated income tax, and establish separate income tax brackets by statute, by their law that could be changed on their whim.  The voters recognized that deception and resoundingly defeated it, again.

"If this ever passes they'll be back again for more," I warned, "for it is they who decide the definition of 'tax fairness.'  Today it's 'millionaires' but next year they'll lower the bar, and lower it again and again."



Click on image to enlarge
CLT's executive director, Chip Ford

I pointed out that the Legislature is already scheming over how to spend that $2 billion windfall of "anticipated" new revenue and it's not on just the promised "transportation and education."  The lusting pols will have that slush fund squandered before it ever makes an appearance on the books.  And when it doesn't show up as "anticipated" well, they'll need to raise it from somewhere to "plug the budget hole."

Following the regular FMG meeting, at noon we opened the invitation-only Grad Tax opposition campaign forum.  In attendance were:

Citizens for Limited Taxation – Chip Faulkner and I represented CLT

Mass. Taxpayers Foundation, earlier represented by Eileen McAnneny (President)

National Federation of Independent Businesses, represented by Chris Carlozzi (State Director)

Massachusetts Competitive Partnership, represented by Nick Calabraro (Research Associate)

Mass. Republican Party, represented by Terry MacCormack (Communications Director)

Mass. Fiscal Alliance, represented by Paul Craney (Spokesman)

Worcester Tea Party, represented by Matt O’Brien, who brought along John LaRossa (media consultant)

Beacon Hill Institute, represented by David Tuerck (President)

Pioneer Institute, represented by Jim Stergios (Executive Director)

Gun Owners Action League, represented by Jim Wallace (Executive Director)

Greater Boston Tea Party, represented by Patrick Humphries (President)

Merrimac Valley Tea Party, represented by Ted Tripp

Click on images to enlarge
CLT forum with leaders of state organizations

It was a productive hour-and-a-half session during which much of the initial discussion was the need to have an opposition campaign in place if the court challenge of the ballot question's constitutionality does not prevail and the Grad Tax continues on to the ballot.  We decided that it is a good first step to insure we're all on the same page going forward, then discussed some initial strategy and tactics, and of course the need for fundraising and what we can expect from it.

We recognized that the constitutional amendment advocates the teachers unions, public employee unions, and the usual assortment of other Takers again will have unlimited finances to draw upon, and an army of zealous "progressive" campaigners who stand to benefit from higher taxes.  We agreed that we must prepare as best as we can and as soon as possible.  While we've always been outspent lopsidedly by The Takers, the voters have nonetheless always sided with us if we put up a good fight and get out a rational, sustained opposition message.

We agreed to continue holding these meetings regularly, the next one soon after the constitutional challenge is filed with the court.

The opposition campaign is coming together.  It's game on!

Chip Ford
Executive Director

Citizens for Limited Taxation    PO Box 1147    Marblehead, MA 01945    508-915-3665