CITIZENS
for
Limited Taxation
Post Office Box 408     Peabody, Massachusetts   01960     (508) 384-0100
E-Mail: 
cltg@cltg.org       Web-page:  http://cltg.org


CLT Update
Friday, August 20, 1999



"The Massachusetts Taxpayer Foundation, a trusted fiscal watchdog, has warned that such a high level of spending is not supported by revenues. ...

"Michael Widmer, executive director of the taxpayers foundation, said the way the Legislature handled the capital supplement may indicate a penchant for spending in the long-overdue regular state budget as well."

Worcester Telegram & Gazette
August 15, 1999


Well no kidding, Michael Widmer -- and how recently was it that you fell off the turnip truck?

Just why do you think we've been calling for our tax overpayment to be returned to us, while you've instead been stroking the Legislature's leadership and advocating that they "invest" more of our hard-earned money?

This is why we at Citizens for Limited Taxation find the name of Widmer's organization, "Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation," incredibly deceptive, downright foolish at best.

As always, we thank the Worcester Telegram & Gazette for its continued editorial support. But I would be remiss if I failed to point out that this time around it is Gov. Cellucci and the Republican state committee which are leading the tax rollback drive, with the backup assist of Citizens for Limited Taxation as a coalition partner.

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Chip Ford


The Telegram & Gazette
Worcester, Mass.
Sunday, August 8, 1999

A promise unkept
Voters to have last word on tax rollback

As legislative leaders attempt to thrash out the differences in the House and Senate budgets, one major sticking point -- income tax relief -- could become a moot point.

Citizens for Limited Taxation and Government, which championed Proposition 2, once again is taking an issue of equitable taxation to the voters.

The taxpayer advocacy group has filed an initiative petition calling for a rollback of the state income tax from 5.95 percent to the pre-1989 level of 5 percent.

The rate increase was a temporary, emergency measure to restore solvency after unsustainable spending programs ran collided with the recession of the late 1980s.

This week's filing with Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly is just the first step in a complicated process.

After the attorney general determines that it passes constitutional muster, it will be forwarded to Secretary of State William F. Galvin. The petitioning group must gather 57,100 valid signatures, to be verified by local registrars by Nov. 17 and filed with Galvin's office by Dec. 1.

Gov. Paul Cellucci has pledged to assist in the petition drive.

If the Legislature rejects a tax rollback, or fails to act on the issue, the petitioners must get 9,517 signatures to place the initiative on the Nov. 7 ballot.

We generally are skeptical of government by initiative petition, a process in which the complexities and nuances of law-making sometimes get short shrift.

But when lawmakers refuse repeatedly to act -- as they have on rolling back a tax rate imposed as a temporary measure 10 years ago -- the people have no other option.


The Telegram & Gazette
Worcester, Mass.
Sunday, August 15, 1999

Spend, spend, spend
Supplemental budget ignores fiscal realities

While the state's fiscal 2000 budget remains stuck in conference committee, likely to set a new record in foot-dragging, the Legislature has approved a supplemental capital spending bill and a transportation bond bill amounting to more than $1 billion.

The Massachusetts Taxpayer Foundation, a trusted fiscal watchdog, has warned that such a high level of spending is not supported by revenues.

That legislative leaders seem unable to come to grips with fiscal realities is cause for concern.

While using part of the surplus for infrastructure improvement is prudent, the size of the supplemental bill is disappointing.

Originally, the House called for $242 million package, and the Senate asked for $475 million. But by the time all the local pork was added, a $609 million measure emerged.

The prospect of a future budget crisis is clearly reflected in Big Dig finances.

The Legislature also has approved an additional $450 million of a total of $1.5 billion of "grant anticipation note financing" for the Central Artery. The new borrowing must be repaid from future federal money Washington will provide for all highway projects across the state. Thus the Big Dig will consume up to one-half of the state's entire federal highway assistance funding through 2015.

Michael Widmer, executive director of the taxpayer foundation, said the way the Legislature handled the capital supplement may indicate a penchant for spending in the long-overdue regular state budget as well.

The foundation warned that fiscal 2000 spending should not exceed the $20.8 billion that already has been approved by both chambers. Even that amount would represent a 7 percent increase -- way beyond the rate of inflation.

Gov. Paul Cellucci is expected to veto $140 million in the supplemental budget, mostly from local pork-barrel projects. Cutting excess fat would help.

But unless policy-makers learn to restrict their appetite for spending, Massachusetts will face an uncomfortably tight fiscal environment in 2000 and beyond.


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