CITIZENS   FOR  LIMITED  TAXATION
and the
Citizens Economic Research Foundation

CLT UPDATE
Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Lt. Gov. Healey calls for immediate tax rollback to 5%


Joined at her headquarters for an afternoon press conference by anti-tax activist Barbara Anderson and running mate Reed Hillman, Healey said, "My opponents in this campaign cannot be trusted on the tax issue."

State coffers hold "more than enough," but the "tax-and-spend Legislature" needs prodding to curb spending, Healey said. Her support for an immediate rollback contrasts with Romney's budget proposal, which would phase the 0.3 percent reduction across two years.

Healey broadened the scope of her criticism to include the other Democratic candidates, Deval Patrick and Christopher Gabrieli, both of whom have emerged as viable alternatives to Reilly, once considered the clear frontrunner.

State House News Service
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
With tax man at the door,
three candidates pitch lower rate


Today, Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey called on the House of Representatives to honor the will of the voters and immediately roll back the state income tax to 5 percent. In 2000, Massachusetts voters went to the ballot and by a 2-1 margin demanded an end to the "temporary" income tax that has been in place since 1989....

Since 2002, Massachusetts taxpayers have sent $2 billion more to Beacon Hill than they would have had they paid at the 5 percent rate....

The state is projecting a budget surplus of more than $1 billion for this year. The state's stabilization fund has a current balance of more than $1.7 billion and the year end total is projected to exceed $2.5 billion.

"We can afford to roll back taxes for our working families, it's the right thing to do," said Barbara Anderson. "The voters of Massachusetts can trust the Healey - Hillman team to stand up to the tax and spend crowd on Beacon Hill."

Healey is the only candidate for governor that has consistently supported the income tax rollback.

Kerry Healey for Governor Campaign
News Release - April 18, 2006
Healey and Hillman call for tax rollback
Amendments Proposed for House Budget


Healey, seizing on yesterday's tax-filing deadline to renew the Republicans' call for rolling back the state income tax rate from 5.3 percent to 5 percent, told reporters at her campaign headquarters that returning money to taxpayers was more important than funding pay increases.

"Let's get our priorities straight," Healey said....

Healey wasn't the only gubernatorial candidate talking about income taxes yesterday. Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly, a Democrat who opposed the income tax rate reduction in the past, talked to commuters outside South Station and issued a similar call.

"Taxes are too high in Massachusetts," Reilly said. "It's time to get it done. This is real money in people's pockets." ...

Voters approved a ballot measure in 2000 lowering the income tax rate to 5 percent, but the Legislature has resisted calls by Republicans and some Democrats to honor that vote, saying it would be a big hit on the state budget. Taxpayers, though, have gotten some tax money back under a bill the Legislature passed in 2002 that tied tax relief to the health of the state economy.

Reducing the income tax rate to 5 percent would cost the state about $700 million annually, said Michael Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, a fiscal watchdog group that is to release its annual evaluation of the state budget today.

The Boston Globe
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Healey raps pay raises for judges
Renews call to cut income tax rate


Reps have filed an astonishing 1,600 amendments to the $25.3 billion House budget filed last week - thatís up 300 over last year, and a whopping 600 more than 2003.

A Boston Herald editorial
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Budget burdened by add-ons galore


For photos of Barbara
speaking at the Healey-Hillman Campaign headquarters

click here


Chip Ford's CLT Commentary

Yesterday Barbara and I attended a Healey for Governor/Hillman for Lt. Governor news conference at their Boston campaign headquarters on the deadline day for filing income tax returns.  The Lieutenant Governor called on the House during its budget debate next week to immediately reduce the income tax rate to 5 percent.  After 17 years of broken promises and doggedly unscrupulous dodges by the Legislature since it termed that tax hike "temporary," even six years after the voters overwhelmingly demanded the 5 percent rate be restored, it's now time that it finally be rolled back.

Barbara noted that both candidates have been longtime friends of taxpayers -- in actions as well as words -- and have a lengthy record of fighting to roll back that "temporary" tax increase, while the Democrat candidates for governor seem to have had a "campaign conversion" suddenly on the tax rollback bandwagon, despite past statements to the contrary and opposition to it, and cannot be trusted.

The governor's budget includes a two-year phase-down of the income tax rate, but of course his budget has been discarded in favor of the House Ways & Means budget, which spends the rollback instead. The House will debate the FY'07 budget next week. House Republicans are filing amendments for phase-downs of the rollback. It's time for us citizens for limited taxation to act. However, House members are on vacation this week so you probably won't reach your representative. You can leave a message with the staff this week, or call your state rep on Monday.

As Barbara wrote last night for a forthcoming column: "The money itself, from the tax cut, isnít a significant amount. The message is huge. When we give up the 5% income tax rate, we give up the initiative petition process and any hope of ever being respected by our elected representatives."

Below is a list of Republican House members, all of whom we expect will be voting for the rollback. If one of them is yours, or you know them personally, thank them for their support and ask that they make a major fight for the 5% rate for this tax year, 2006. Win or lose, we will get roll call votes for the fall reelection campaigns.

To the Democrats, the message is simple:  "The voters instructed you to roll it back. Do you respect the voters, your constituents, or do you not?"

House Republicans
Bradley H. Jones. Jr.
(R-North Reading)
Minority Leader
Virginia M. Coppola
(R-Foxboro)
Viriato "Vinny" M. deMacedo
(R-Plymouth)
Lewis G. Evangelidis
(R-Holden)
Paul K. Frost
(R-Auburn)
Susan W. Gifford
(R-Wareham)
Shirley Gomes
(R-Harwich)
Robert S. Hargraves
(R-Groton)
Bradford Hill
(R-Ipswich)
Donald F. Humason, Jr.
(R-Westfield)
John A. Lepper
(R-Attleboro)
Paul J. Loscocco
(R-Holliston)
Jeffrey D. Perry
(R-Sandwich)
George N. Peterson. Jr.
(R-Grafton)
Elizabeth A. Poirier
(R-North Attleboro)
Karyn E. Polito
(R-Shrewsbury)
Susan W. Pope
(R-Wayland)
Mary S. Rogeness
(R-Longmeadow)
Richard J. Ross
(R-Wrentham)
Todd M. Smola
(R-Palmer)
Daniel K. Webster
(R-Hanson)
Find your State Representative
CLICK HERE

We agree with the Healey/Hillman campaign that more than enough time has passed since the false promise of a "temporary 18-month" income tax rate increase was made in 1989 (17 years ago -- soon an actual year for each "promised" month!); that it is time to "keep the promise" as the voters mandated in 2000 without further ado.  Our mistake back then with our ballot question was in being "reasonable," allowing the Legislature three years in which to adjust to the decrease in revenue surplus.  We learned the hard way that those three years only provided the pols with time to come up with a means, an excuse, to "freeze" the voters' mandate.

The Legislature's substitute, its own "gradual rollback," won't occur -- even under the ideal conditions it requires -- until at best 2014, twenty-five years, a quarter of a century -- a generation  -- after the false promise was made!

The state is choking on revenue surpluses again.  "The state is projecting a budget surplus of more than $1 billion for this year. The state's stabilization ["rainy day"] fund has a current balance of more than $1.7 billion and the year end total is projected to exceed $2.5 billion," according to the administration.  That's on top of last year's billion dollar revenue surplus.

The House budget proposes to increase state spending by $1.37 billion (5.7%) over last year's budget, and there are 1,600 amendments to it already filed.

This is exactly what occurred during the "Roaring '90s," when still the rollback wasn't "affordable" according to the Democrat-dominated Legislature -- and the toady Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation as usual.  Instead, the Legislature spent the billion-dollar annual surpluses year after year, doubling the state budget since the "temporary" tax increase of 1989.

Now is the time to strike, now is the time to keep the promise the voters' attempted to keep for the ethically-challenged, disingenuous and obdurate Legislature.  Voters in 2000 still believed we lived in a democracy and that votes and elections mattered.  The Democrat-controlled Legislature deemed otherwise; election results don't matter to most legislators except for their own, and those think they can get away with that manifesto.  Now is the time to find out if we can prevent the Legislature from spending us into the next fiscal crisis and another tax increase down the road.

Chip Ford


State House News Service
Tuesday, April 18, 2006

With tax man at the door,
three candidates pitch lower rate
By Jim O'Sullivan


Capitalizing on the state's deadline for tax filing, the three gubernatorial candidates in favor of immediately trimming the income tax rate to 5 percent reiterated their positions Tuesday, saying the Legislature was past due in responding to a voter mandate.

Attorney General Thomas Reilly, who along with Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey and unenrolled businessman candidate Christy Mihos supports the rollback, also used the day to hype his everyman credentials, linking his rivals' refusals to disclose their personal finances to questions circling Vice President Dick Cheney's ethics.

Healey picked up a theme Republicans have used to preserve their 16-year lock on the governor's seat, painting the "Beacon Hill crowd" as spending-happy, inept stewards of the economy.

The tax debate promises to be a frequent one during campaign season, as state revenues continue to outperform budget estimates, even while the Massachusetts economy lags the national recovery.

Reilly led off the day by talking with the pre-work crowd at the South Station Postal Annex, then explaining to voters outside the station that he'd supported the rate change since Massachusetts had "turned the corner," and said it should happen "right now."

He said, "Taxes are too high in Massachusetts. Working families are struggling, trying to make ends meet. It's not just taxes. It's high cost of living and housing, college tuition, energy prices, insurance prices. They've made very clear what their intentions are: They want the income tax rolled back to 5.0. It's time to get it done. This is real money in people's pockets."

Joined at her headquarters for an afternoon press conference by anti-tax activist Barbara Anderson and running mate Reed Hillman, Healey said, "My opponents in this campaign cannot be trusted on the tax issue."

State coffers hold "more than enough," but the "tax-and-spend Legislature" needs prodding to curb spending, Healey said. Her support for an immediate rollback contrasts with Romney's budget proposal, which would phase the 0.3 percent reduction across two years.

Healey broadened the scope of her criticism to include the other Democratic candidates, Deval Patrick and Christopher Gabrieli, both of whom have emerged as viable alternatives to Reilly, once considered the clear frontrunner.

Gabrieli played "wait-and-see" on the tax rollback during their 2002 lieutenant governor's debate and in the past has joined Reilly in "actively supporting the status quo in the Legislature," and Patrick "wears his pro-tax agenda as a badge of honor," Healey said.

Mihos, who helped build the Christy's convenience store chain and earned publicity on the Big Dig board, has staked his campaign on numerous proposals for paring taxes and fees. He said the state erred in not immediately complying with the electorate's mandate, calling it "anathema to the way I think," and said sliding back taxes would have been prudent at any point in the fiscal crisis.

"The voters voted for it, so that makes it a good idea. And any time Beacon Hill loosens the purse-strings and gives the people back their money, that's a good idea, too, and it certainly would have softened the blow of the recession if people had had their own money to spend," Mihos said in a phone interview.

Reilly did not pinpoint a benchmark the state ignored, but said the decision should have been made "once the fiscal crisis was over. There's no fiscal crisis now, there's a budget surplus."

Healey did not directly answer a reporter's question about the wisdom of a mid-recession tax cut, instead saying the move to 5 percent should have been made in 2000, and blaming part of the crisis's depth on the spending that "had gone up so precipitously between 2000 and 2002." The 2002 freeze, Healey said, has cost taxpayers $2 billion.

Because April 15 fell on a Saturday, and Monday was the Patriots Day holiday, residents were granted until Tuesday to submit their tax forms.

Voters in 2000 instructed the Legislature to whittle the residential income tax rate from 5.75 percent to 5.0, its pre-1989 rate. In 2002, during the state's bleak fiscal period, lawmakers froze the rate at 5.3. Since, where to affix the percentage of their incomes residents send to the state has divided politicians, with the GOP frequently using it as a cudgel against the largely Democratic legislative branches.

Supporters of the lower rate say a family of four would see an additional $200 per year, and a single person earning $50,000 would net about $130. Healey's afternoon press conference featured a poster saying the 5 percent rate would have meant $496 million in taxpayer retention for Fiscal Year 2005, and $528 million for this fiscal year.

Gabrieli, an education think-tank founder, has said he supports the rollback but has not detailed when it should be implemented, and Patrick, a former corporate and Justice Department attorney, has in the past refused to rule out a tax increase.

Asked if Patrick thought rolling the rate back represented good policy, spokeswoman Libby DeVecchi said, "Not right now" and that "the tax to cut is the property tax." Property tax rates are set locally.

"We need to do it with practical implementation and we need to tie it to economic growth. It can't be one-time spending and it can't just be governing by press release," Gabrieli spokesman Daniel Cence said, promising a comprehensive plan to be released later this year.

Beyond policy pronouncements, Reilly's morning event also served to underscore his unique standing in the race: He's the only non-millionaire candidate, the only one to provide full disclosure of his personal finances, and the only one whose children attended public schools. Shaking hands with commuters in Dewey Square while campaign aides distributed an in-house produced flier, the attorney general worked to offer class-based appeal.

The attorney general compared the other candidates' privacy claims unfavorably to Cheney, who has faced criticism for his ties to Halliburton, a contracting firm where he served as chief executive and has benefited from wartime contracts. Both Cheney and President Bush, Reilly pointed out, voluntarily release their tax returns, as did Bay State gubernatorial candidates traditionally until Romney in 2002 declined.

Reilly said, "For both Republican and Democrat candidates for governor not even to be able to meet the ethical standards of Vice President Cheney with the conflicts that certainly have come into light over the course of his career Ö What do they have to hide?"

Marisa Cohen, a 48-year-old administrative manager from Holbrook, said she's an unenrolled voter who leans toward Republicans, and doesn't know much about any of the candidates. But learning of Reilly's financial status intrigued her.

"I would think that's a great thing," Cohen said, scanning a Reilly flier on her way out of the station.

Mihos brushed aside Reilly's demand for the personal disclosures, calling it "nothing but another distraction."

"We meet the letter of the law, relative to any and all disclosures," Mihos said, questioning Reilly's actions in investigations of Big Dig cost overruns: "Why would he sign a secret, confidential pact with the Big Dig contractor and put the state in the position that they can't release documents relative to the leaks in the tunnels?

Healey echoed Mihos's insistence that the ethics disclosures required by the state "are more than adequate to give the public the information they need."

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Kerry Healey for Governor Campaign
News Release - April 18, 2006

Healey and Hillman call for tax rollback
Amendments Proposed for House Budget
Would Reduce State Income Tax Rate to 5%


Today, Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey called on the House of Representatives to honor the will of the voters and immediately roll back the state income tax to 5 percent. In 2000, Massachusetts voters went to the ballot and by a 2-1 margin demanded an end to the "temporary" income tax that has been in place since 1989.

Since 2002, Massachusetts taxpayers have sent $2 billion more to Beacon Hill than they would have had they paid at the 5 percent rate. Tom Reilly and Chris Gabrieli supported the higher tax rate but are now claiming to support the rollback because they are candidates for governor. Deval Patrick is the only Democrat in the race not to change his position on the rollback; he opposes tax relief and wants to increase taxes and state spending.

Healey said, "Taxpayers are paying too much and as state revenue collections continue to exceed estimates we can stop penalizing our hard working citizens for being so productive. If the tax rate was 5 percent in 2005 working families would have kept $496 million of their own money rather than padding the bottom line on Beacon Hill. In 2006, it's expected that a 5 percent tax rate would return more than $528 million to taxpayers."

Healey was joined by Lieutenant Governor Candidate Reed Hillman and Barbara Anderson from Citizens for Limited Taxation, a key leader in the victorious rollback vote in 2000.

"Taxpayers spoke loud and clear," said Healey. "They voted to return the state income tax to 5 percent and we should take the necessary steps to reward our citizens by letting them keep more of what they earn. I'm challenging Tom Reilly and Chris Gabrieli to demonstrate their commitment to lower taxes by putting public pressure on the House leadership to roll back the state income tax to 5 percent."

The state is projecting a budget surplus of more than $1 billion for this year. The state's stabilization fund has a current balance of more than $1.7 billion and the year end total is projected to exceed $2.5 billion.

"We can afford to roll back taxes for our working families, it's the right thing to do," said Barbara Anderson. "The voters of Massachusetts can trust the Healey - Hillman team to stand up to the tax and spend crowd on Beacon Hill."

Healey is the only candidate for governor that has consistently supported the income tax rollback.

Reed Hillman said, "Kerry Healey has been leading the charge for tax relief since her first day in office. She knows that rolling the state income tax back to 5 percent will provide a shot in the arm for our economy and send a strong message to our citizens and the business community that we are serious about making Massachusetts a competitive place to live, work and grow a business."

###

The Democratic Candidates on the Tax Rollback:

  • As late as March 2005, Tom Reilly was publicly stating that rolling back the income tax rate to 5 percent was "short-changing the future of the state." (Boston Herald, 3/10/05)

  • As the democratic candidate for lieutenant governor back in 2002 Chris Gabrieli complimented a Democratic opponent for voting to raise taxes and said during the same debate, "I do think we are going to have to add revenues." (Boston Globe, 10/22/02)

  • Deval Patrick has made his opposition to the rollback clear, "Patrick told a WRKO radio interviewer yesterday that he opposes rolling back the state income tax rate from 5.3 percent to 5 percent." (Patriot Ledger 12/14/05)

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The Boston Globe
Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Healey raps pay raises for judges
Renews call to cut income tax rate
By Scott Helman and Lisa Wangsness, Globe Staff

Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey, who's made criminal justice a centerpiece of her campaign for governor, attacked a proposed pay raise for judges and court clerks yesterday as a prime example of "reckless" spending by the Democratic Legislature.

Healey, seizing on yesterday's tax-filing deadline to renew the Republicans' call for rolling back the state income tax rate from 5.3 percent to 5 percent, told reporters at her campaign headquarters that returning money to taxpayers was more important than funding pay increases.

"Let's get our priorities straight," Healey said.

House and Senate leaders reached a tentative agreement last fall to raise trial judges' salaries to about $130,000 a year, up from the current $112,777, but the two chambers have yet to reach a final agreement on the spending bill that includes the money. Together with an already negotiated salary boost for other court employees, the raises for judges and clerks would cost $42 million a year.

Healey said the spending bill represented "the kind of reckless behavior with the taxpayers' money that we cannot afford."

The judges lobbied legislators successfully last year for the pay raise, arguing that they haven't received one since 2000 and that Massachusetts lags behind almost every other state in judicial salaries.

Juvenile Court Judge Jim Collins, a vice president of the Massachusetts Judges Conference, which represents the state's roughly 390 judges, said yesterday that a raise was merited, but he did not criticize Healey. "I don't think it would be appropriate for a judge or the conference to be at all second-guessing the other two independent branches of government," Collins said.

David L. Yas, publisher and editor in chief of Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, said Healey's comments reflect a hostility toward the judiciary, which he contends has been "befuddling" to the legal community.

"Unfortunately it makes for easy politics to suggest that judges are money-grubbing," Yas said. "They're really not asking for much more than the cost-of-living expenses when you look at it over the long haul."

Healey wasn't the only gubernatorial candidate talking about income taxes yesterday. Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly, a Democrat who opposed the income tax rate reduction in the past, talked to commuters outside South Station and issued a similar call.

"Taxes are too high in Massachusetts," Reilly said. "It's time to get it done. This is real money in people's pockets."

Voters approved a ballot measure in 2000 lowering the income tax rate to 5 percent, but the Legislature has resisted calls by Republicans and some Democrats to honor that vote, saying it would be a big hit on the state budget. Taxpayers, though, have gotten some tax money back under a bill the Legislature passed in 2002 that tied tax relief to the health of the state economy.

Reducing the income tax rate to 5 percent would cost the state about $700 million annually, said Michael Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, a fiscal watchdog group that is to release its annual evaluation of the state budget today.

Among other candidates, Democrat Chris Gabrieli favors a rollback to 5 percent, but Deval L. Patrick does not, arguing that a lower rate will only put more pressure on property taxes. Independent Christy Mihos also favors a rollback to 5 percent.

Gabrieli, meanwhile, is launching the first television advertisements of the 2006 campaign season today, as he scrambles to get his last-minute candidacy for governor off the ground.

The ads, which portray Gabrieli as a man with "a lot of ideas" and a passion for education, will run on cable and network television stations for at least a few weeks, said Dan Cence, Gabrieli's press secretary.

Though the ads could reach millions of people, Gabrieli's candidacy depends on only a few hundred people at this point. To get on the ballot, he needs 15 percent of the delegates to the party's June convention to support him -- a challenge for a candidate who entered the race two months after the February caucuses.

The other candidates have not aired television ads. Patrick launched a $50,000 to $100,000 Internet ad campaign last week.

Gabrieli's opening salvo on television raises the prospect of another expensive primary campaign for the Democrats -- something the party wants to avoid as it attempts to win a governor's race for the first time in 20 years.

To that end, party officials will appear with all three candidates at a press conference this morning to announce the leaders of its Massachusetts Victory '06 Coordinated Campaign. The party hopes to raise $1 million so that the primary winner will enter the general election season with money to spend.

Material from the State House News Service was used in this report.

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The Boston Herald
Tuesday, April 18, 2006

A Boston Herald editorial
Budget burdened by add-ons galore


Itís a darn good thing House lawmakers are required to submit budget amendments by e-mail. The state might go broke if everyone had to print them out.

Reps have filed an astonishing 1,600 amendments to the $25.3 billion House budget filed last week - thatís up 300 over last year, and a whopping 600 more than 2003.

Sure, amendments are an annual tradition - as much for their substance as for their starring role in many a hometown press release. But the sheer volume this year tells us a little something about discipline and the pace of things at the State House - and should signal the same thing to House Speaker Sal DiMasi.

The House has raised the Beacon Hill bottleneck to an art form during this session, which ends July 31. Itís no wonder members are slapping amendment after amendment onto the budget in hopes of gaining traction before the session ends.

Welfare reform? Stalled in conference committee, so yep, thereís an amendment for that. Nurse staffing bill? Much as it deserves a swift burial, since it canít get a floor vote, itís now an amendment.

And we were more than a little disappointed to find the House had abandoned a rule that demands an offset when an amendment seeks added spending. With no such discipline required, why wouldnít Rep. Ted Speliotis (D-Danvers) ask for $640,000 for a legislative intern program?

Weíve praised DiMasi for his reluctance to legislate by "outside section." But this is no way to run a railroad, either. Amendments get bundled together and dispensed with in a back room - literally - often under cover of darkness.

DiMasi & Co. scored big on health care, and producing a balanced budget is no small feat. But the volume of amendments this year betrays a lack of discipline - both in the reps who fell over themselves filing them, and in the leaders who forced their hand.

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