and the
Citizens Economic Research Foundation

November 2, 2006

The truth is out there: The public needs to hear it.
Facts for the Final Week

We have always liked and admired the Massachusetts media, have always been treated fairly by all its aspects. We remember with nostalgia the excellent in-depth reporting on Proposition 2½ twenty-six years ago. But of course times, and readers, have changed, and we understand what the print media, especially, is up against limited reader attention span.

According to some polls, voters have remained uninformed about key issues through the bulk of this year’s gubernatorial campaign. Some media persona are starting to ask tough questions; here are some answers that do not seem to be getting through to the public. (What happened to the Globe’s Ad Watch?)

1. The Globe editorial endorsement of Deval Patrick says that "he wants to expand the circuit breaker limit on property taxes for the elderly." There IS no "circuit breaker limit on property taxes" for the elderly or anyone else, no matter how many times Deval says it. It is bad reporting to keep repeating it. Just Google "circuit breaker Massachusetts" and you will see that it is an INCOME tax credit available only under certain limited conditions.

This is important because polls show voters would rather have a property tax cut than an income tax cut. Well, so would we! But SOMEONE should be telling them that this is a non-existent choice. While the income tax rollback has been on the table for seventeen years, Deval Patrick does not have a proposal for a property tax cut.

And neither, of course, does Christy Mihos. Some voters actually think that Christy’s "Proposition 1" is on the ballot next week. The media should be telling voters that it requires a constitutional amendment that could only be on the 2010 ballot if the Legislature allows it – which means it won’t ever happen. We realize that most of the media is basically ignoring this as a silly proposal, but many voters think it is for real and should be told that it’s not.

2. The MTA Ad. The Massachusetts Teachers Association’s ad claims that "Massachusetts ranks 41st in state funding for education." But PER PUPIL SPENDING K-12 has been among the highest in the nation for years – 5th highest in 2003-04, well above the national average.

Local aid has always been lower here than in many other states because we over-utilize the property tax, which is also among the highest in the nation. The MTA opposes Proposition 2½ and its effort to limit those property taxes. This entire context is important because the teachers’ union has endorsed Deval Patrick, and is funding over $2 million in ads in his support.

3. Anger with Romney. Voters appear angry with Governor Romney for traveling out of state. We’ve seen few reminders to voters that the last Democratic Governor, Michael Dukakis, actually RAN FOR PRESIDENT FULL-TIME in 1988, using "the Massachusetts Miracle," which was created with unpaid Medicaid bills, imaginary state revenues, and a raid on the state pension fund. Shouldn’t people be given that perspective as well?

4. Criminals. The resulting fiscal crisis led to Dukakis’ threat to release prisoners from the county jails. As I wrote in my recent column:

"When he returned to the fiscal crisis he created, he demanded a tax increase. When the Legislature refused to give it to him, he threatened to let the prisoners out of the county jails! I remember this because it scared me too.

"All of us - legislative Republicans and angry Democrats, Citizens for Limited Taxation, business leaders – agreed to a doubling of the deeds excise, with part of the new revenue dedicated to the jails. No one wanted to be responsible for innocent citizens being robbed or raped by early-released felons."

This is why it is important to determine exactly how Deval Patrick feels about criminals before we elect another liberal Democrat.

Barbara Anderson --

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