August 29, 2005
Again to the "Hamill Commission" – Hands
off voters' Prop 2½!
Since we led the fight to cut the auto excise in
1980, let us be among the first to say "No" to increasing it.
Twenty-five years ago, Citizens for Limited Taxation
led the ballot campaign for Proposition 2½, which not only limited the
property tax levy, but cut the hated auto excise from $66/$1000 to
We were told that the Massachusetts version had been
created as a temporary tax. It was a particular shock to newcomers, most
of whom had never heard of an auto excise unless they came from one of
the three other states that had one. Only about half the states had some
type of annual auto levy, usually a property tax.
The amount collected by all Massachusetts cities and
towns from the auto excise was $266 million in 1980. It dropped to $112
million after the rate cut, then rose to $534 million in 2000. Though
the rate was lower, the value of automobiles has increased to generate
plenty of revenue from what was originally another "temporary" tax.
In 1989, John Hamill also led a Municipal Finance
Commission, which also recommended changing Proposition 2½. That time
the recommendation was to raise property taxes higher than the Prop 2½
levy limit allows. It was shot down almost immediately.
What is the Commission thinking, to want an auto tax
increase as gas prices approach $3-a-gallon? To want a tax increase at
all, with revenues increasing already in a state with the 4th highest
per capita tax burden in the nation?
This year, as we celebrate the 25th anniversary of
Proposition 2½, we intend to stop this new assault on Prop 2½ as well.
– 30 –