CITIZENS   FOR  LIMITED  TAXATION
and the
Citizens Economic Research Foundation

CLT UPDATE
Thursday, May 26, 2005

Taxpayers on hook for vicious cons' sex-changes -- what?!?


Hard core criminals in our state prisons. You pay for their food, clothing and general medical care. Now, you may end up paying for their sex change surgery. I-Team reporter Joe Bergantino investigates what critics are calling a massive waste of taxpayer dollars....

The I-Team has learned there are twelve prisoners in our correction system who have either been diagnosed with or are being diagnosed for gender identity disorder. Four prisoners are receiving hormone treatments. So far, their medical care and lawsuits have cost you tens of thousands of dollars. Sex changes for all of them would cost you at least a quarter of a million dollars....

Barbara Anderson, Citizens for Limited Taxation: "What bothers me about that? What doesnít bother me about that? I canít even imagine seriously considering this. Never mind doing this. Never mind paying for it."

So why is state funding for prisoner sex changes -- something insurance companies wonít pay for -- even a possibility?

Blame it on the federal court. Thatís where Michelle, once Robert, Kosilek took her case....

Later this week, the state will tell the federal court that sex surgery for Michelle Kosilek would result in a security nightmare. When that happens, expect Kosilek to pursue her lawsuit. Then a federal judge will eventually decide whether you will pay the bill for Kosilekís operation and beyond that, sex surgeries for other convicts serving times for horrendous crimes.

WBZ-TV4
May 25, 2005 11:00 pm
Sex Changes Behind Bars
By Joe Bergantino - CBS4 I-Team


A coalition of religious and community groups will launch a drive today to put universal healthcare on the 2006 state ballot, in a proposal that would raise the cigarette tax to buy coverage for more people and would require all but the smallest Massachusetts businesses to cover their workers....

Under [Uxbridge Democrat state Sen. Richard] Moore's similar proposal, the state would add 50 cents to the $1.51 per pack cigarette tax, a move that might raise as much as $150 million a year. Much of that money would be used to expand MassHealth, the Bay State's Medicaid program....

Nevertheless, the leaders of the healthcare campaign say there is a moral and religious imperative to make sure that every citizen is covered. Eddly Benoit, a church elder at Dorchester's Temple Salem Seventh Day Adventist Church, said that up to a fourth of the members of that congregation lack health insurance.

The Boston Globe
Thursday, May 26, 2005
Mass. group set to push for universal healthcare


A new report that advocates privatizing the Massachusetts Turnpike deserves further study, a transportation spokesman for Governor Mitt Romney said yesterday....

The release of the study yesterday by the Pioneer Institute, a Boston think tank, triggered more political salvos between the authority and the Commonwealth, which wants to merge the Turnpike Authority with the Massachusetts Highway Department....

The new study asserts that a private company could raise and lower tolls without political fallout and operate more efficiently. The study cites privatized roads in Chicago, Texas, and Indiana, and admits other efforts have failed.

The author of the private, unsolicited study, Ted Bunker, writes that privatizing the turnpike, including the Big Dig, could provide as much as $5 billion to the state.

The Boston Globe
Thursday, May 26, 2005
New report touts privatizing Mass. Turnpike


Chip Ford's CLT Commentary

The world has finally gone truly and completely mad!

We taxpayers are now ordered by the federal court to pay for elective sex-change operations of "convicts serving time" -- many sentenced to life behind bars -- "for horrendous crimes"!

If you didn't catch the CBSNews4 at 11:00 last night and sit stunned by Joe Bergantino's I-Team report, I've included a transcript of it today. I swear I could hear taxpayers' groans and screams reverberating throughout the state despite even the raging nor'easter outside. I'm still dumbfounded. What more can be added?

The tax-and-spenders keep lecturing us that "taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society." I'm sorry but we're far beyond the tipping point. The corollary has now kicked in, the level of taxation is literally destroying what remains of our society.

"At least quarter of a million" of our bucks, so vicious murderers behind bars can change from hes to shes. I don't dare ask, even rhetorically, what can possibly come next.


State Sen. Richard "Moore Taxes" Moore [D-Uxbridge]  is at it again, proposing another tax increase. You'll recall that he just proposed a 20 percent "temporary" hike in the sales tax. (CLT Update, May 13 - Anyone buying another "temporary" tax hike?) Now he wants to add yet another 50Ę to the $1.51 per-pack cigarette tax, already one of, if not the, highest in the nation. This is reported as "a move that might raise as much as $150 million a year" and would be used "to expand MassHealth, the Bay State's Medicaid program."

How much more big government can a diminishing band of beleaguered smokers honestly be expected to finance single-handedly?

"Might" is the operative word, and the next question should be, "for how long?" What will the Legislature do differently than it always does, once a new or expanded "entitlement program" is firmly rooted but inevitably becomes unsustainable? We all know the answer to that rhetorical question.

Now that "Universal Health Care" has become a "religious imperative to make sure that every citizen is covered," how quickly will the ACLU race to its rabid defense of "the separation of church and state"? Surely we can count on its consistent advocacy, even against this Utopian liberal crusade. Don't hold your breath.


The next time a liberal demands higher taxes, more money to care for "the most vulnerable among us" and "the children," point them to an available $5 Billion bonanza. Tell them to take the MassPike out of the hands of hackarama and privatize it, then come talk about how to best spend the proceeds.

Chip Ford


WBZ TV-4
May 25, 2005 - 11:00 pm

Sex Changes Behind Bars
By Joe Bergantino - CBS4 I-Team


(WBZ-TV) Hard core criminals in our state prisons. You pay for their food, clothing and general medical care. Now, you may end up paying for their sex change surgery. I-Team reporter Joe Bergantino investigates what critics are calling a massive waste of taxpayer dollars.

Kenneth Catheena Hunt, serving a life sentence for first degree murder.

Sandy Jo Battista, child rapist, behind bars twenty-one years.

Michelle Kosilek, in prison for life for strangling his wife.

All three are violent criminals.

All three believe they are women trapped in menís bodies.

And all three want you to pay for their sex change operations.

The I-Team has learned there are twelve prisoners in our correction system who have either been diagnosed with or are being diagnosed for gender identity disorder. Four prisoners are receiving hormone treatments. So far, their medical care and lawsuits have cost you tens of thousands of dollars. Sex changes for all of them would cost you at least a quarter of a million dollars.

Taxpayer advocate Barbara Anderson.

Barbara Anderson, Citizens for Limited Taxation: "What bothers me about that? What doesnít bother me about that? I canít even imagine seriously considering this. Never mind doing this. Never mind paying for it."

So why is state funding for prisoner sex changes -- something insurance companies wonít pay for -- even a possibility?

Blame it on the federal court. Thatís where Michelle, once Robert, Kosilek took her case.

Before Kosilek sued, the stateís policy was this: Individuals receiving hormone treatment before imprisonment could continue it behind bars but no sex change operations allowed.

But two years ago, Judge Mark Wolf handed down this decision saying Kosilek has a "rare, medically recognized, major mental illness" and that the state must follow doctors prescribed treatment.

Correction Commissioner Kathleen Dennehy.

Kathleen Dennehy, DOC Commissioner: "The courts are telling us that medical professionals make medical recommendations and correctional administrators assess the safety and security concerns."

Now, a doctor hired by the state is recommending that Kosilek, who has twice attempted suicide, undergo a sex change operation as treatment for her disorder.

If the state refuses to do it, Kosilek will ask the federal court to order the surgery, at your expense.

Senator Scott Brown: "I think itís unconscionable that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the citizens of the Commonwealth would have to pay for any type of elective sex change operations for any prisoners."

But is sex change surgery elective?

Most doctors and psychotherapists, include Diane Ellaborn, say in some cases itís medically necessary.

Joe Bergantino: "What are the consequences for these men if the state says forget about it, youíre on your own, live with it, get over it?"

Diane Ellaborn: "I think the psychological consequences are severe. I think people have severe depression, severe anxiety. These could be highly suicidal prisoners usually and also prisoners that are at very high risk for self mutilation."

Denise Leclair, who once was a man, heads up the International Foundation for Gender Education.

Denise Leclair: "We should rely on what doctors say the proper course of treatment is, not subject peopleís medical treatment to popular vote. That seems grossly unfair."

Because of our investigation, Senator Scott Brown has filed legislation prohibiting the state from paying for prisoner sex changes.

Senator Scott Brown: "When you go to prison, you lose some rights. You also lose your rights to get a sex change operation."

Later this week, the state will tell the federal court that sex surgery for Michelle Kosilek would result in a security nightmare. When that happens, expect Kosilek to pursue her lawsuit. Then a federal judge will eventually decide whether you will pay the bill for Kosilekís operation and beyond that, sex surgeries for other convicts serving times for horrendous crimes.

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The Boston Globe
Thursday, May 26, 2005

Mass. group set to push for universal healthcare
By Scott S. Greenberger, Globe Staff


A coalition of religious and community groups will launch a drive today to put universal healthcare on the 2006 state ballot, in a proposal that would raise the cigarette tax to buy coverage for more people and would require all but the smallest Massachusetts businesses to cover their workers.

The Greater Boston Interfaith Organization argues that its approach would go further to reduce the ranks of the state's 500,000 uninsured than the alternatives under consideration on Beacon Hill that are backed by Governor Mitt Romney and Senate President Robert E. Travaglini. The Greater Boston Interfaith Organization, which includes 65 religious congregations and community groups in Eastern Massachusetts, says its plan would cover everybody by expanding the state's insurance program for the needy and by forcing businesses to provide coverage.

Romney and Travaglini want to make private insurance more affordable by allowing insurance companies to offer lower-cost policies with scaled-back benefits. Neither of their plans includes a tax increase or an ironclad employer mandate, an approach that the business community strongly opposes.

"We think the Senate president is off to a great start, but we want to do two-thirds more than what the Senate president wants," said Rabbi Jonah Pesner of Temple Israel, one of the leaders of the effort. "We're happy to work this out with the Legislature in the next two months. But we're prepared to go to the ballot initiative, and we're prepared to raise the thousands of signatures to get it on the ballot if necessary."

The group would have to collect approximately 40,000 certified signatures to put the proposal before the voters. Even if backers achieve victory at the ballot box, they may not get what they want: In recent years, the Legislature has ignored two measures that voters approved, scuttling a campaign finance measure and indefinitely delaying an income tax reduction.

Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom said the governor is committed to expanding healthcare coverage, but rejects the strategy backed by the religious leaders.

"Both the governor and the Senate president have made it clear that tax increases and employer mandates are off the table," Fehrnstrom said.

Travaglini and his aides could not be reached for comment. While avoiding a direct employer mandate, the Senate president's plan would force companies that employ 50 or more people and don't provide healthcare coverage to reimburse the state when their employees seek treatment from the public free-care pool.

A fourth healthcare proposal is also in the mix, though it would travel a different path. Last July, lawmakers approved a proposed constitutional amendment requiring the Legislature to come up with a plan for universal healthcare coverage. Under that proposal, the Legislature would have to "enact and implement such laws as will ensure that no Massachusetts resident lacks comprehensive, affordable" health insurance coverage.

Legislators would need to approve the measure again in a Constitutional Convention this year or in 2006, to put the proposal on the November 2006 ballot.

By contrast, the ballot initiative being proposed today by the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization does not seek to amend the state Constitution, and it is far more specific. Though they might maneuver to block it, legislators would not have to approve the measure for it to become law.

The plan hews closely to a bill authored by Senator Richard T. Moore, the Uxbridge Democrat who cochairs the Legislature's healthcare finance panel. That plan stakes out ground held by many healthcare advocates, who say that covering everybody in Massachusetts is impossible without spending more money and requiring employers to provide health coverage. But so far, Moore's proposal has gained little traction on Beacon Hill because of political opposition to new taxes or mandates on businesses.

Ari Lipman, a spokesman for the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization, said the ballot initiative would not contain all of Moore's proposals, but it almost certainly would include an expansion of MassHealth, the state coverage program for the poor; subsidies for small business and the self-employed to help them pay for coverage; and surcharges on businesses that can provide insurance to their workers but do not.

Under Moore's similar proposal, the state would add 50 cents to the $1.51 per pack cigarette tax, a move that might raise as much as $150 million a year. Much of that money would be used to expand MassHealth, the Bay State's Medicaid program.

To push businesses to provide coverage, Moore would levy what he calls a "health access assessment" on employers who do not offer health plans to their workers. The payment would be calculated as a percentage of payroll, and firms paying total salaries of $50,000 or less would be exempt.

Moore's proposal also would provide state subsidies to small business and certain low-income individuals to help them purchase insurance. The state would automatically enroll in private plans people whose employers don't provide insurance.

Lipman said the group has already enlisted the support of many small business people who would like to provide healthcare coverage to their workers but can't afford it.

But the state's leading business groups have been united in opposition to any mandate on employers. Brian Gilmore of Associated Industries of Massachusetts said an employer mandate "would raise the profile of Massachusetts as a difficult place to do business," and might cost the state jobs.

"Everybody's for healthcare, but the fly in the ointment is how to provide for it, pay for it, and make it affordable," Gilmore said.

In 1988, the Legislature approved a measure that levied a surcharge of $1,680 per worker on businesses that failed to provide coverage, excluding firms with fewer than six workers. But that plan, promoted by Governor Michael S. Dukakis, was scuttled by his successor, William F. Weld. Today, only Hawaii has an employer mandate.

Nevertheless, the leaders of the healthcare campaign say there is a moral and religious imperative to make sure that every citizen is covered. Eddly Benoit, a church elder at Dorchester's Temple Salem Seventh Day Adventist Church, said that up to a fourth of the members of that congregation lack health insurance.

"One of the things that we preach from the pulpit and is taught to us in the Bible is that our body is the temple of Christ, and because our body is the temple of Christ we have to treat it appropriately," Benoit said.

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The Boston Globe
Thursday, May 26, 2005

New report touts privatizing Mass. Turnpike
Romney, Amorello still deeply divided
By Mac Daniel, Globe Staff


A new report that advocates privatizing the Massachusetts Turnpike deserves further study, a transportation spokesman for Governor Mitt Romney said yesterday.

But a deeper examination of privatization won't begin without the cooperation of Massachusetts Turnpike chairman Matthew J. Amorello, whom Romney has been trying to oust and who balked at the idea.

Mariellen Burns, spokeswoman for the Turnpike Authority, said that privatizing the turnpike would force managers to keep tolls in place and that the initiative goes against Amorello's promises to remove tolls west of Route 128 by 2017.

"Entering into this type of ... lease with a private entity with very strong profit motive would guarantee the entire road's permanent status as a toll road," she said.

Jon Carlisle, spokesman for the Executive Office of Transportation, said: "It's an idea that deserves to be explored. But it's clear that it won't get far with the entrenched protectors of the status quo that are presently managing the turnpike.

"I think the kind of information we would need to form a final analysis ... requires the kind of cooperation and forthrightness that has so far not been forthcoming from the Turnpike Authority," Carlisle said.

The release of the study yesterday by the Pioneer Institute, a Boston think tank, triggered more political salvos between the authority and the Commonwealth, which wants to merge the Turnpike Authority with the Massachusetts Highway Department.

The merger would cut overlapping services and save at least $20 million annually and $190 million in one-time savings by having the Commonwealth back the authority's bonds, state officials said.

In March, the governor asked the state's highest court whether he can oust Amorello from the Turnpike Authority chairmanship, a ruling that the court has yet to decide, according to a court spokeswoman.

Despite repeated requests, Amorello has refused to step down, saying he plans to stay in the $205,000-a-year job until the Big Dig's completion this fall.

State Transportation Secretary John Cogliano is scheduled to become the authority's chairman after July 2007, when Amorello's contract expires.

The new study asserts that a private company could raise and lower tolls without political fallout and operate more efficiently. The study cites privatized roads in Chicago, Texas, and Indiana, and admits other efforts have failed.

The author of the private, unsolicited study, Ted Bunker, writes that privatizing the turnpike, including the Big Dig, could provide as much as $5 billion to the state. He also said a long-term lease of the Mass. Pike "would probably require regular toll increases over the length of the lease." The study does not advocate adding tolls.

Bunker cites the recent privatization of the Chicago Skyway, a 7.8-mile road linking Chicago to the Indiana Toll Road, where private operators paid the city $1.83 billion for the right to run the refurbished road under a 99-year lease. Detailed rules govern future toll increases, cap those increases, and link them to inflation.

Bunker said the private companies running the road -- a Spanish toll road builder and operator and an Australian investment bank -- based their bids on the future cost savings of adding new electronic toll collection systems.

The road runs at about 30 percent capacity, while nearby interstates run at or above capacity. As a result, even if tolls are raised on the Skyway, Bunker said, the companies say it won't impact their ability to attract more commuters and generate more revenue.

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