and the
Citizens Economic Research Foundation

Barbara's Column
September #1

Trying to choose Democrat who has the right stand on taxes
by Barbara Anderson

The Salem News
Friday, September 8, 2006

There are still summer days remaining until the fall equinox; and, if we aren't directly involved in a campaign, still an occasional weekend afternoon with time to spend in the hammock or garden.

But for those of us who love an election-year autumn, the phones are ringing again as the excitement of the political battle surges through our veins.

So there I was on Labor Day morning in Marlborough with Kerry Healey; her running mate, Reed Hillman; and their cheering supporters, as the pair enthusiastically signed a large cardboard version of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge: "I (Kerry Healey, Reed Hillman), pledge to the taxpayers of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts that I will oppose and veto any and all efforts to increase taxes."

Good news for laboring people, for whom a tax increase is a pay cut.

Suddenly, voters are paying attention to at least the gubernatorial campaign, noticing the radio and TV ads, reading newspaper articles about tax plans and education proposals, and watching televised interviews and debates as we approach the Sept. 19 primary.

As an independent I can vote in either primary. Since there is only one contest on the Republican ballot, and either Ken Chase or Kevin Scott is fine with me against Ted Kennedy, I'll be taking the Democratic ballot.

I will be voting for incumbent Secretary of State Bill Galvin, who has been supportive of the initiative petition process. And then I must choose the best Democratic candidates for governor and lieutenant governor. I'm working on it, starting with tax issues.

Of course I will vote for Healey and Hillman in the general election. Besides signing the pledge, they have both supported the income-tax rollback over several years.

Independent candidate Christy Mihos, who just turned in his signatures to qualify for the November ballot, is expected to sign the pledge too; but he no longer supports an immediate income-tax rollback as the Republicans do, but rather has some vague plan to do it later.

I know sometimes people choose the candidate they judge as weakest against the person they want to win. I can't do that; I take my vote seriously and won't play games with it. When I'm supporting a Republican or Libertarian, I vote in the primary against the Democrat I really, really, do NOT want to win.

I loathe Tom Reilly. I wouldn't vote for him for the same reason I voted against Scott Harshbarger in the 1998 Democratic primary.

As Middlesex County district attorney, and then attorney general, they were the persecutors of the Amirault family in the infamous Fells Acre Day Care case. Because they refused to look at the real evidence and admit the state made a mistake when it convicted Violet, Cheryl and Gerald Amirault, innocent people spent many years in jail until enlightened judges and a decent parole board freed them.

If Patrick really cares about property taxes, let him propose a direct property tax cut or at least endorse Healey's proposal to control local "fixed costs."

I don't know which annoys me more, Reilly's sudden and unbelievable conversion, or Gabrieli's never-gonna-happen "plan."

And despite what Patrick says, the Taxpayer Protection Pledge is not a gimmick. It's a message sent by candidates to the Legislature, cities and towns: Don't spend yourselves into another fiscal crisis. Control yourselves, set priorities, do systemic reforms -- because in the next recession, you'll need a two-thirds roll-call vote to override the governor's veto of the new taxes that provide an easy way out at taxpayers' expense.

Gabrieli or Patrick? I still have more than a week to decide.

Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. Her syndicated columns appear weekly in the Salem News, Newburyport Times, Gloucester Times, (Lawrence) Eagle-Tribune, and Lowell Sun; bi-weekly in the Tinytown Gazette; and occasionally in the Providence Journal and other newspapers.