Wednesday, March 21, 2001
Contact: Barbara Anderson - (508) 384-0100
"People who live in glass
houses" (and senates) ...
According to the State House News Service,
senate budget leaders are accusing the Cellucci administration of
"hypocrisy" because it proposes to spend more tobacco
settlement "trust fund" money. State Sen. Mark Montigny said
that "if Cellucci had been more forthcoming when he promoted
Question 4, it would not be necessary to spend 70 percent of the tobacco
trust money." Montigny also accused the administration of going out
"for political gain" when it told the public it "could
live with Question 4, without any effort."
Let's see if we have this right. Certain members of
the Legislature -- that was not "forthcoming" either when it
"temporarily" raised the income tax rate in 1989-90 or when it
supported a taxpayer-funded lawsuit against the tobacco companies and
which, by definition, lives for political gain -- are accusing the
Cellucci administration of ... hypocrisy?
And what is this "effort" that is required
to spend the tobacco settlement "trust money"? If Beacon Hill
leaders were "forthcoming," they would admit that the lawsuit
was specifically justified to reimburse taxpayers for money they
already had paid in Medicaid bills. Instead, legislators want to hold
the reimbursement money until they can spend it for their own
"political gain" on whatever their particular supporters want.
Massachusetts taxpayers should be getting their
Question 4 income tax rollback and a tax cut reflecting the
entire $8.3 billion reimbursement. We know better than to expect the
latter. We wish Sen. Montigny and his budget leaders would stop whining
about the former. We and the governor won fair and square. Let's move
P.S. On the subject of hypocrisy, let Sen. Montigny
and "budget leaders" support S. 1734 -- the Voluntary Tax
check-off -- so they can choose to pay the higher, pre-Question 4 rate
State House News Service
Monday, March 19, 2001
Tobacco $$$, budget riders, IG plan
at budget hearing
By Michael C. Levenson
STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, MAR. 19, 2001… Senate budget
leaders accused the Cellucci administration of "hypocrisy" by
proposing to spend more tobacco trust fund money, reduce budget riders,
and eliminate the office of the Inspector General.
Sen. Mark Montigny (D-New Bedford), chair of the
Senate Ways and Means Committee, said if Cellucci had been "more
forthcoming" when he promoted Question 4, the $1.2 billion income
tax rollback approved by voters in November, it would not be necessary
to spend 70 percent of the tobacco trust money. Current law stipulates
30 percent of the funds be spent and 70 percent put in an endowment.
"You've put us in this spot, you as an
administration went out for political gain and told the public that we
could live with Question 4, without any effort," Montigny said.
As the Senate prepares its budget, Montigny said he
might eventually agree to commit more tobacco trust fund money to
operating expenses because of reduced tax revenue caused by the tax cut.
"Unfortunately, they've now put us in the spot, where we are going
to have a real difficult time" funding programs, he said. "The
administration should have been much more forthcoming in the Question 4
While Cellucci and his lieutenant governor, Jane
Swift, are no longer calling for new tax cuts, they have joined the
Democrat-controlled Legislature in enacting more than 40 tax cuts over
the past ten years. During that time, tax revenues and state spending
soared but with the economy slowing and the major income tax cut kicking
in, Democrats and Republicans are now worried about making fiscal ends
Massachusetts is due to receive more than $8 billion
over the next 25 years as part of a national settlement concerning
Medicaid-related costs of treating smokers. Administration and Finance
Secretary Stephen Crosby, said spending tobacco settlement money to aid
urgent health care needs is prudent, regardless of the status of tax
"There is a very serious misimpression that you
are conveying," Crosby said at a Monday morning budget hearing.
"We feel that it's our job to spend as little public money as we
can, and when there's this great big pot of money sitting there that was
meant to solve health care crises, this seemed to us the right thing to
Montigny also scoffed at Cellucci's proposal to
reduce budget riders because, he said, the governor has relied on riders
as much as lawmakers in recent years. Riders, also called outside
sections, are non-budgetary items tacked onto the budget, often without
debate or much public disclosure.
"They've submitted hundreds of them over the
years, so it was ironic to see the posturing," Montigny said.
"I think it's wrong to be a hypocrite."
"We're not looking to lay blame, we're looking
to solve a problem," said Administration and Finance spokesperson
Crosby acknowledged the administration has used
outside sections but said it's time for all Beacon Hill budget writers
to stop the practice. He said outside sections are "an odd way to
do business" that "have become abused over time, and have
allowed laws to pass underneath the radar of public scrutiny."
Eliminating them, he said, is part of an overall
campaign, along with a voter-approved public campaign financing law, to
make government more open and accessible.