and the
Citizens Economic Research Foundation

September 5, 2006

Governorís Race 2006:  Tax Issue

Yesterday (Labor Day) morning Barbara Anderson, CLTís executive director, joined Kerry Healey, Reed Hillman, and their cheering supporters at a ballpark in Marlborough while the two candidates signed a very large version of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, which states: 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.

The Republican candidates have also supported the income tax rollback from the beginning, helping with the winning ballot campaign in 2000 Ė the same year that Chris Gabrieli contributed thousands of dollars to its opponents. Now, running for Governor, with polls showing that Democrat primary voters support the rollback, Gabrieli has a plan: the 1989 promise, and the 2000 voter mandate, can be honored when the moon is in the 7th house and Jupiter collides with Mars in a month with an R in it.

The Legislature passed the "temporary" income tax hike in 1989 Ė seventeen years ago. Voters passed a three-year rollback in 2000, which the Legislature froze, "temporarily," in 2002. Tom Reilly opposed the rollback until he began running for Governor, then converted to a tax-cutter. Halle-loviní-lujah.

Giving credit where itís due, at least Deval Patrick is honest: no matter who promised what, no matter what the voters mandated six years ago, he is not going to support rolling the income tax rate back to its traditional 5 percent. He claims he is worried about property taxes.

So, as always, are we. Cities and towns spend their record amount of local aid, increase their fixed costs and liabilities, then beg for overrides to maintain the higher levels of spending. Meanwhile, high taxes hurt the state economy and in a recession, businesses pay less and homeowners pay more of the property tax share.

We donít know which is more annoying, Reillyís sudden and unbelievable conversion, or Gabrieliís pie in the sky, never gonna happen "plan." And the Taxpayer Protection Pledge is not a gimmick, Deval. Itís a message sent by candidates to the Legislature: donít spend the state into another fiscal crisis. Control yourselves, set priorities, do systemic reforms Ė because in the next recession, youíll need a two-thirds rollcall vote to override the governorís veto of the new taxes that would be an easy way out at taxpayersí expense.

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