and the
Citizens Economic Research Foundation

Barbara's Column
October #5

Don't believe the No-on-Question-1 propaganda
by Barbara Anderson

The Salem News
Thursday, October 30, 2008

I am waiting by my mailbox for one more anti-Question 1 giant postcard. If I have my immediate family to dinner, we need six of them, laminated, for place-mats.

I have the teacher; the nurse; the working mother; a young woman holding, for some reason, a pink plastic pig; and the so-called "Fact flyer." I'm waiting for the ones with a frightened senior citizen or handicapped kid; then my collection will be complete.

I guess if you have over $5 million of union money to spend, there's no limit to the place-settings or the paid media ads telling voters that if Question 1 repeals the income tax, property taxes will go up. Note that the groups using this scare tactic are the same public employee unions, along with the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, who have always opposed Proposition 2 and would love to see higher property taxes.

My young friend Garrett Quinn has a video on Red Mass Group that shows a blind kitten begging people to vote no or he and four other blind kitties will die. Nice to see that not all Gen Y's have been brainwashed by the Massachusetts Teachers Association. Garrett also has a video with zombies lurching through the streets, screaming that if Question 1 passes we are all "gonna die!"

Happy Halloween, voters.

Question 1 opponents believe that voters will be tricked by the words "risky" and "reckless" if they are repeated often enough. I have been signing my name "Barbara Anderson, risky reckless racist" because I'm voting for Question 1 and against Obama.

I'm actually a thoughtful voter. Even though George Carney, owner of Raynham Park, ran an ad against banning greyhound racing with the tag "Vote No on 1, 2, 3," I am not getting even by recommending that everyone vote yes on 1, 2, 3. I carefully researched the two other ballot issues and am voting yes on 1 and 2, no on 3 because I like greyhounds more than I dislike Carney. With the right to vote comes the responsibility to decide not just on personalities, but to learn as much as possible about issues and candidates.

This is why it seems odd to me that the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce invited me to debate Question 1 with MTF's Michael Widmer at its Oct. 31 meeting, then took a public position against Question 1 before hearing both sides!

Also odd: The argument that instead of voting for ballot questions, voters should just vote out the politicians who don't address their concerns. If there's a level playing field, sure. But incumbents have the built-in visibility, the fundraising advantage, the ability to buy votes with our money and do favors with their incumbent power, and all the paid time off in the world, to campaign. Most incumbents limit debates with their opponents, if they'll debate at all.

At the federal level, there are no initiative petitions. Sen. John Kerry has an excellent opponent in Jeff Beatty, a national security specialist who has a great personality. All Kerry has is the power and funding of incumbency; and to make sure that voters don't notice his personality deficit, he agreed to only two debates during the senatorial campaign. This is an insult to voters, for which he will almost certainly be rewarded with editorial endorsements and re-election, again.

Here in Massachusetts, four incumbents who have repeatedly shown contempt for voters have viable challengers this year. Sen. Susan Fargo and Reps. Barbara L'Italien, Paul Kujawski and Bill Greene all voted to freeze the income tax rollback that was passed in 2000, holding the income tax rate at 5.3 percent despite the will of the voters in their districts. Sandi Martinez of Chelmsford is running against Fargo; the House challengers are, in L'Italien's district, Lonnie Brennen, Georgetown; in Kujawski's, Kevin Kuros, Uxbridge; and in Greene's, Tony Lucacio, Billerica. Let's see how they do.

I must tell you something about Question 1, in case you haven't figured it out for yourself: The Massachusetts Legislature, which refuses to honor the earlier income-tax rollback, worth roughly $700 million to state taxpayers, is highly unlikely to allow voters to cut $12 billion from the state budget. Speaker DiMasi has publicly stated that he wouldn't implement the income-tax repeal.

So forget about the place-mat people and their dramatic fears. The public employee unions are afraid that if Question 1 passes, the governor and the Legislature, before repealing it, may address citizens' concerns about out-of-control union benefits.

It's becoming clear that the overtime games, fake disability and pension benefits, extra pay for working on Sept. 11 and learning to use computers, early retirements, and health-insurance-for-life benefits, will lead our communities into real trouble. Note Vallejo, Calif., which is declaring bankruptcy because its union benefit outlays are more than its revenues.

Who knows? If Question 1 passes, maybe the Legislature will apologize to the voters for its previous lack of respect and return the income tax rate to 5 percent, just like we ordered. Since Deval Patrick didn't ever get around to the "property tax relief" that he promised, I would apply my income-tax savings to my property tax bill, every year.

The comments made and opinions expressed in her columns are those of Barbara Anderson's
and do not necessarily reflect those of Citizens for Limited Taxation.

Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. Her column appears weekly in the Salem News and other Eagle Tribune newspapers; bi-weekly in the Tinytown Gazette; and occasionally in the Lowell Sun, Providence (RI) Journal and other newspapers.