Thursday, November 15, 2007

Simply Ditto

To:  Members of the General Court
         Today -- November 15, 2007
Senior Citizen Prop 2½ Exemption

To:  Members of the General Court
         May 1, 2007
Re:  Mayday for Proposition 2½ –
S.1697, Sen. Baddour; H.2840, Rep. Balser

Citizens for Limited Taxation takes second place to no one in its concern for senior citizens facing unaffordable property taxes.  When we placed Proposition 2½ on the1980 ballot, we were especially aware of the relief it would provide seniors and others on fixed incomes.

But some communities are passing overrides without regard to lower- or fixed-income people, of all ages, who cannot afford them.  When we created an override provision, we anticipated that it would be used for emergencies and unusual circumstances, not for operating budgets year after year.  We did not envision local officials giving their unions extraordinary pension and health insurance benefits that would become “fixed costs,” paid for by taxpayers with high fixed costs of their own.

Though focused on senior citizens, we intended to limit property taxes for all citizens.  We are opposed to new bills that give a break to seniors at the expense of young families with mortgages, family healthcare expenses, future college tuition and their own retirement savings.  We are especially opposed to S.1697 and H.2840, which would exclude seniors from an override in their community.  This is clearly meant to encourage seniors to stay home, thereby helping overrides pass – at which time the other burdened taxpayers would have to pick up the seniors’ share of the new higher taxes.

The circuit breaker legislation is more fair, but because it is an income tax cut, it cannot qualify as the “property tax relief” that Governor Patrick promised.  We support another income tax cut contained in H.3162, which gives relief to people who support elderly parents in their homes and in the long run can save taxpayer dollars.

CLT has filed a bill, S.1702, not being heard today, that would help all taxpayers by limiting the number of overrides to one in any 12 month period; and allowing an underride in all communities, not just the few that presently have the ability to place a tax cut on local ballots.

Long-term, however, the only action that will save our taxpayers and our communities from fiscal crises is reform of public employee early retirement, pension and health insurance benefit packages.  We hope the Legislature will have the courage to take on the unions and address these issues.

Prop 2½ went into effect twenty-six years ago, as of July 1.  We appreciate the ongoing support that the Legislature in general has shown for Prop 2½, the senior citizens’ best friend, and hope that you will vote “No” on S.1697 and H.2840.

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