Post Office Box 408
Peabody, Massachusetts 01960 (508) 384-0100
Friday, January 29, 1999
Now we really do know who's in charge on Beacon Hill, and it isn't the senate president.
This legislative session, instead of House Speaker Tom Finneran futilely trying to play us
for suckers, it's Tom Birmingham's turn to be the dummy. This time it's Birmingham who
insists that there never was a promise made that the income tax rate hike would be only
Whether it's a ridiculous claim of "fiscal restaint" while introducing
an exploding state budget or denying the obvious in the face of exposure, the Beacon Hill
Cabal is playing us for suckers and fools.
Chip Ford --
Thanks to those who contacted Rep. Brian Cresta to "clamor" for the
income tax rollback. Between the e-mail messages and the phone calls generated by our
mailing to his constituents, he called to tell me that he can now honestly say that he has
heard a clamor, and will be fighting hard for the tax cut.
He then asked if we could see to it if other legislators hear the clamor too. We
must be prepared to generate calls when the issue comes up on the Hill, but this week we
saw a media item that gives us someone else to practice on.
The following AP report states:
"House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Haley, D-Weymouth, wasn't very
enthusiastic about tax cuts, either.
"'I am increasingly concerned about how we would be able to support a $1.4
billion tax cut over three years,' he said.
"'I don't know that the public is clamoring for a tax cut right now,' he also
Barbara Anderson --
|Click to Send State Rep. Haley an Email Message:
State House Office Phone Number:
Wednesday, January 27, 1999
Momentum slowing for tax cuts on Beacon Hill
By Martin Finucane
BOSTON (AP) - Tax cut proposals appear to be losing momentum on
Beacon Hill this year.
Republican Gov. Paul Cellucci proposed a $1.4 billion tax cut in his
budget unveiled Wednesday, but Democratic legislative leaders were decidedly cool to the
"One of the sticking points will be the income tax bit,"
Cellucci acknowledged at the news conference where he summarized his phone-book-sized
Senate President Thomas Birmingham, D-Chelsea, first of all, disputed
Cellucci's assertion that lawmakers promised to lower the 5.95 percent income tax rate to
a 5 percent after the tough fiscal times of the early 1990s were over.
"No such promise was made. ... No such representation was made," Birmingham said
at a news conference called to respond to the budget.
Read the promises made
right from the mouths of the policitians making them!
Birmingham also said he preferred to cut taxes through increases in
exemptions, rather than through rate cuts.
Asked how big a tax cut the state could afford, he said, "We're a long way from being
able to give you any number, if there's a number at all."
Asked if there was a chance there would be no tax cut ultimately
produced by the Democratic-dominated Legislature, Birmingham said, "Sure, there's
always that possibility."
Birmingham's statements were a far cry from last year when he had
already said by early January that he could envision "hundreds of millions" of
dollars of tax cuts.
By early February of last year, Birmingham had stepped forward with a
proposal for $443 million in tax cuts. It doesn't seem likely this February.
House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Haley, D-Weymouth, wasn't very
enthusiastic about tax cuts, either.
"I am increasingly concerned about how we would be able to
support a $1.4 billion tax cut over three years," he said.
"I don't know that the public is clamoring for a tax cut right
now," he also observed.
To contribute to the bipartisan
you can reach Rep. Paul Haley (D-Weymouth)
by clicking below.
or by calling: (617) 722-2990
The state enacted major tax cuts last year, both temporary and
permanent, that totaled up to $1 billion and were trumpeted by Cellucci on the campaign
Cellucci had urged the cuts, but they were ultimately designed to the
liking of the Legislature, which has a veto-proof Democratic majority.
What's different this year?
The lawmakers say they're worried about the possibility the economy
will go bad, they point out that last year's cuts haven't hit fully yet, they point out
that the state is seeing major cuts in the federal contribution to the mammoth Central
Artery-Third Harbor Tunnel project.
Haley, particularly, argued that the state should prepare for tough
economic times like a ship battening down before the storm.
Michael Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation,
a business-backed budget watchdog group, said he felt the prospects were "slim"
for a significant tax cut.
Still, Cellucci said, he believes he can fund the budget, adding some
new programs and, at the same time, begin to cut taxes.
Past estimates have put the value of such a tax cut at $600 to the
average family with two working parents.
The tax cut is "right for Massachusetts, right for our economy,
and right for our families," Cellucci said.
State House News Service
January 27, 1999
Gov's Buget Based on Unrealistic Expectations
JAN. 27, 1999 ... EJB ... Political leaders charged Gov. Paul
Cellucci with "budgetary sleight of hand" this afternoon following his release
of the largest budget proposal in the state's history. The $20.56 billion budget drew a
sharp rebuke from House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Haley, who warned that instead of
trying to meet "unrealistic expectations," the state should deal with deferred
capital needs and begin preparing for an economic downturn.
"My initial reaction when they suggested they are vicious fiscal
watchdogs was - I don't see the bite," Haley said. "In fact, as you cut through
the wrapping of the spin that this budget was presented, on clear analysis, I think you
can see there are some real concerns as to how, without the stock market continuing to set
records for the foreseeable future, that we can sustain all this."
Haley said the governor "wants to have it both ways" by
promising an across-the-board tax cut, while proposing dozens of spending increases,
absorbing a huge cut in federal highway funding, and paying for the most intensive phases
of the $10.8 billion Big Dig.
"I'm increasingly concerned about how we would be able to
sustain a $1.4 billion tax cut over three years when there's a suggestion that we can
improve education, afford better health care access for all of our citizens, and provide a
day care benefit for all those we are forcing off welfare," Haley said. "These
have enormous spiraling costs into the future, and to suggest we can do all that and cut
taxes and still absorb the hit we've taken from the federal government is just
Senate President Thomas Birmingham and his Ways and Means Chairman
Mark Montigny joined the budget-bashing, claiming Cellucci "raided" the tobacco
settlement fund for about $100 million to free up enough money for an income tax cut. The
$100 million, they claim, was put toward programs that have historically been paid for out
of the general fund.
"They (the public) expect the tobacco settlement to be ... a
huge windfall that will be used exclusively to expand health programs," Montigny
said. "The numbers that we've looked at, at least to date, show that a major portion
of that is supplanted and used elsewhere."
Cellucci says the tobacco settlement money will be used only for
health care programs.
Birmingham disputed Cellucci's claim that he fully funded the final
installment of the Education Reform Act. The Senate president said the budget siphons off
$30 million by using reform funds to pay for programs that have been funded separately in
the past - such as MCAS remediation and charter school reimbursement.
For instance, Birmingham said, "His claim that he's got a $20
million expansion for MCAS remediation is not true. What the governor has done is take $20
million that otherwise would go to education reform and pushed it over to MCAS. I think
you can make a case that that (and moving charter school reimbursements) represents a $30
million diversion of Chapter 70 Education Reform money."
Barbara Anderson, executive director
for Citizens for Limited Taxation and Government - typically a Cellucci fan - was livid
this morning minutes after seeing the new budget plan. She called it "out of
control" state spending and blasted Cellucci for talking about fiscal restraint,
while proposing a budget that's $900 million fatter than last year.
"The governor's budget shows the
need for the governor's tax cut," she said. "The only way to restrain state
spending is to cut back on taxes - to not give them the money in the first place. The
income tax rate should have been rolled back years ago, and they should roll it back now
immediately to keep themselves from spending again."
Anderson darkly alluded to the days of
former Gov. Michael Dukakis' "Massachusetts Miracle," when economic good times
prompted spending frenzies which then could not be sustained when the recession of the
early 90s hit. Politicians are "addicted" to spending, she said, and can't be
trusted to control themselves.
"All politicians are like the
person writing on the bathroom wall - 'stop me, stop me, before I kill again,'" she
said. "They're begging us to stop them before they spend it all because they
know they're going to be in trouble, and yet the Legislature can't bear to give up even
the tiny amount of money that would come from the income tax rollback. And even the
governor can't bear to give up the reimbursements from the tobacco companies, which should
be returned to the taxpayers who pay the Medicaid bills in the first place."
Michael Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation,
said the foundation supports the fiscal safeguards the budget proposes, but he echoed
Haley's concerns about unsustainable budgetary growth, coupled with deferred maintenance
and capital spending.
"The budget appears to not take advantage of the strong economy
and revenues to address the capital problem - far and away our number one problem,"
he said. "The state doesn't have enough money to both live within its $1 billion bond
cap, pay for the Central Artery with major federal cutbacks, and, at the same time, invest
in a long list of important capital initiatives."
In contrast to the quick round of denunciations from political types,
the constituencies that stand to get the goodies appeared to be pleased with Cellucci's
Massachusetts Teachers Association - Spokesperson
Laura Barrett said, "Our preliminary analysis is we give a thumbs-up to his education
spending priorities. Many of them mirror our education spending priorities, with an
emphasis on reducing class size, early child education and school modernization." The
teachers union is concerned, however, about the proposed income tax cut, the plan to
eliminate the cap on charter schools, and an outside budget section calling for a study on
establishing charter-type schools within the public higher education system.
Coalition to Adequately Fund and Improve Human Services
- Michael Weekes, executive director of the Massachusetts Council of Human Service
Providers, said, "The $15 million salary reserve continues the commitment of the
Cellucci administration to address the unprecedented hiring and retention issues that the
industry faces in this strong economy. This is an initial positive step to begin the
budget process and debate."
Environmental League of Massachusetts - Amy Lucky,
director of the Massachusetts Environmental Collaborative, said, "We commend the
governor for the increases for a variety of land use and protection programs. We
particularly applaud the funding included for the biodiversity protection and the
agricultural preservation programs."
Home Health Care Association of Massachusetts -
Patricia Kelleher, executive director of the association, said, "(We) are pleased the
governor has recognized the crisis and stepped up to the plate and committed state funding
to compensate for the federal Medicare policy changes. The additional $20 million included
in the budget will allow home health agencies to continue to provide services to the frail
elder population in Massachusetts who are no longer covered under Medicare."
AIDS Action - Larry Kessler, executive director,
applauded the expansion of Medicaid coverage and said, "This state has done an
outstanding job of reducing AIDS mortality well below the national average. With Medicaid
expansion, we'll be able to bring comprehensive health care and life-extending drugs to
poor people with HIV before they get deathly ill."
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
Return to CLT