The Gloucester Daily Times
Saturday, November 1, 2008
'Robin Hood' finds no vote for the taking
Weekly column by All Hands
Arriving here yesterday dressed on Halloween as Robin
Hood to debate ballot Question No. 1 — the income tax repeal —
Barbara Anderson, the scourge of taxes, was not pleased to learn
that the host leadership of the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce had already
made up its mind.
Worse still, from her point of view, is that the
chamber had gone on record against the repeal. She came to the
organization's breakfast to urge voters to support eliminating the
income tax and vote "yes" on Question 1.
Falling into line with unions, state and local
government bodies and government-dependent private industry
organizations, the Cape Ann Chamber agreed to oppose the question in a
unanimous vote of its directors on Oct. 15, two weeks before yesterday's
debate at the Elks on the Back Shore.
Anderson was fit to be tied ("a little bit angry")
when she discovered her trip up here was — at least as she saw it —
something of a fool's errand ("I'm the entertainment," she said).
She announced that she wanted the chamber charged for
her lodging (at Blue Shutters), and made clear she'd have liked to
charge the chamber for meals had she had any.
"What are we (Question 1 supporters) — the serfs, the
peasants, the fools?" she asked.
By the context and structure of the question, it was
clear that Anderson, the founder and face of Citizens for Limited
Taxation, meant to tweak those who she says have "enabled" the
Legislature to continue fleecing the people by opposing the repeal of
the 5.3 percent income tax.
It was a Charlie Brown
"We-have-met-the-enemy-and-it-is you" moment.
Her counterpart in the debate, Andrew Bagley, the
director of research and public affairs for the Massachusetts Taxpayers
Association, which is the nonprofit voice of the business sector, wanted
the audience to know that things were not as dire or corrupt as Anderson
made them out to be.
"Waste, fraud, corruption, abuse is not $12 billion,"
Bagley contended. Instead, he said, "Maybe hundreds of millions."
Chamber executive director Mike Costello conceded it
would have been better to have had the debate before the vote, but he
explained that the board met and voted at mid-month, and had hoped to
have the debate before that meeting.
Costello said the chamber had been trying in vain to
get Carla Howell, the sponsor of the repeal, up here for a debate before
the chamber's meeting.
But Costello said he believed the debate served its
purpose, gave the audience something to think about and provided a
service through media coverage of the event.
"In a way," he said, "I can understand that she's
The Gloucester Daily Times
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Anderson: Anti-Question 1 argument just 'a trick'
By Richard Gaines
Barbara Anderson scoffed yesterday at predictions of doom should
voters repeal the state's 5.3 percent income tax.
Her message, delivered with
an angry edge and dramatic flair, was that residents should vote in
favor of Question 1 on Tuesday, recognizing that it's ludicrous to think
the Legislature would bow to the wishes of the electorate and allow the
shaving of $12 billion tax revenues.
"You've been tricked,
you've been fooled, wake up," she said in an hour-long debate at the
Cape Ann Breakfast Club at the Elks on the Back Shore, sponsored by the
Chamber of Commerce.
Later, with rebellion if
not revolution on her mind, Anderson likened the public to "serfs,
peasants and fools" who needed to show gumption by voting to repeal the
income tax. "Are you fed up yet?" asked Anderson, who founded
Citizens for Limited Taxation which championed the tax-limiting law
Proposition 2½ a generation ago.
She cited an editorial from
Forbes Magazine urging the approval of the repeal. Standing there on
Halloween costumed as Robin Hood, Anderson also contended there was no
way the Legislature would abide by the voters' will, should Question 1
be approved Tuesday.
"It's all a game — a game
of chicken," Anderson insisted.
Andrew Bagley, director of
research and public affairs for the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation,
said he found the argument, billed as a debate over Question 1, "odd."
Bagley wondered why someone
so skeptical about the performance of the Legislature would want to
allow it to figure out how to adjust to the repeal.
"If you don't trust them,"
said Bagley, "it's an odd argument to make."
research nonprofit organization has produced the study that has become
the foundation of the campaign to reject Question 1 and keep the 5.3
percent income tax. According to the study, the actual elimination of
the tax would cost the state $12 billion and lead to a degrading of
roads, bridges, schools, hospitals, just about everything government
The terms of the referendum
question — which is intended to be binding, but would be legislation
that could be changed by state lawmakers — would carry out the repeal in
two stages, cutting the income tax in half this January, and eliminating
it a year later. The cuts would tell the world, Bagley said, "we are not
prepared to meet our responsibilities." He predicted businesses would
flee the state, people would move out and no businesses would move in.
The Taxpayers Foundation
calculates that about 40 percent of the $31 million state in state
spending would be lost should the question pass and the Legislature did
not somehow compensate by raising other taxes.
Bagley said this was a
terrible time to eliminate the income tax, with the governor now
implementing $1 billion in spending cuts while revenues are dropping in
the onset of the recession.
Anderson, however, said a
"yes" vote on the repeal would empower Gov. Deval Patrick in his reform
efforts and notify the Legislature to end its worst excesses. She also
noted that the public employees' unions have raised and spent millions
to convince voters not to approve the income tax repeal.
"Stand up like Robin Hood
in the forest," she said, "and fight back."
State House News Service
Friday, October 31, 2008
Question 1 tax cut couched in repeal forecast,
By Jim O’Sullivan
More than $4 million will
be spent this year on both sides of a ballot measure that even advocates
concede has little chance, even if it passes, of taking effect.
Question 1, which would
halve the state personal income tax rate to 2.65 percent beginning Jan.
1 and eliminate it altogether in 2010, polled more than 2-to-1 against
in a recent poll, and opponents have consistently outnumbered
The proposed law, entitled
“The Small Government Act to End the Income Tax,” would broadside the
state’s annual operating budget, wiping out roughly $12.5 billion from
state coffers, good for about 40 percent of current state revenues.
Proponents call it a way to
tighten state spending, which consistently grows faster than revenues
and the overall economy, and opponents worry that even voters who do not
want to watch state services diminished might want to “send a message”
to Beacon Hill with a vote of disapproval of its fiscal operations.
“There’s no place to hide
waste and corruption in a small government budget,” reads the full text
of the question.
Income taxes grew 9.5
percent last fiscal year, helping state coffers offset losses in other
categories like sales and corporate taxes, according to state financial
documents. The state's workforce grew by 1,426 people, or 1.7 percent.
With the state Republican
Party challenging 16 state legislators and five Congressional
candidates, voters disillusioned with the current political system have
sparse outlets for their frustration – a dynamic some legislative
Democrats thought could rebound on the plus-side for Question 1.
At the same time, state GOP
candidates have been divided on the question, and no incumbents have
come forward in support, robbing the anti-tax side of on-the-ground
workers in potentially supportive districts.
Dan Haley, a former Romney
administration aide running to succeed Republican Rep. Paul Loscocco in
the Holliston- and Hopkinton-based district, said he has not worked the
measure into his campaign, reflecting a trend among Republicans who view
it as too drastic a step.
“My line has kind of been:
Question 1 has become something of a distraction from all the problems
we’ve got,” Haley said this week.
The measure’s lopsided
underperformance in the polls reflects the dramatic cash advantage the
union-backed Coalition for Our Communities, leading the coordinated
effort against the proposal, enjoys over the Committee for Small
The most recent finance
report, filed Oct. 20, showed that the Coalition for Our Communities had
spent $2.9 million between Oct. 2 and Oct. 15, raised an additional $2.4
million, and had $845,196 on hand. Through Oct. 15, the group had spewed
over $3.5 million into ads, door-knocking, phone banks, and fliers, and
into the pockets of consultants and strategists.
Over the same period, the
Committee for Small Government reported spending $5,569, raising
$25,892, and a balance of $51,161. Its total outlay was under $400,000,
giving the pro-tax group a spending edge of nearly 9-to-1, with more
than 16 times as much left over.
Republican candidates said
the ad campaign run in the closing weeks by the question’s opponents
have proved effective. Haley said voters in his district would be most
likely to be on the “yes” side if the measure passes statewide, but that
many of them found it too “radical” in a fiscally uncertain climate.
president of the Citizens for Limited Taxation, said she thinks
unions are confident the repeal would never be implemented, but that
they hope to keep pressure off legislators to pursue savings by slashing
public sector employee benefits.
“I think the unions know
that, yes, the Legislature will repeal the repeal,” said Anderson. “But
first, to show good faith with the voters, they will do some reforms in
the public employee area.”
State leaders, led by House
Speaker Salvatore DiMasi, have indicated they would resist following
through with the income tax repeal. The process would call for lawmakers
to vote to overturn the voter mandate.
“Election Day’s Tuesday,”
said Steve Crawford, spokesman for the Coalition for Our Communities.
“We’re focused on educating the voters about the impact of this reckless
proposal. We’ll leave the speculation to others.”
An income tax repeal failed
in 2002, but garnered a surprising 45 percent of the vote. That year,
the pro-tax side spent just $4,600.
Stewards of the state’s
budget have been far more vocal this year. Gov. Deval Patrick has ripped
the question for months, labeling it “foolish” and “irresponsible.”
Mass. Taxpayers Foundation President Michael Widmer forecast sustained
“political chaos” if the question passes, with a shrinking pie for
lawmakers and interest groups to fight over.
State leaders have also
taken steps in recent months to curb the perception that Beacon Hill’s
wastefulness deserves a scolding from voters. Patrick has talked
repeatedly of the public opinion hangover from the Big Dig, and
lawmakers joined him in expending political capital with public employee
unions to reduce the use of police details and lay-off toll-collectors.
After agreeing to a $28.2
billion budget this summer, Patrick this month slashed $900 million in
spending and may soon sign off on the use of pension and rainy day fund
reserves to help close a $1.4 billion budget gap that developed when
Beacon Hill leaders realized tax collections were suddenly falling far
short of expectations.
Carla Howell, head of the
anti-tax committee, called Patrick’s spending cuts “a sham,” and said
the promised layoffs are “a slap in the face” when stacked against the
pace of private-sector layoffs that residents have seen.
Business and labor
organizations have coordinated their efforts, all warning of decimated
state programs and economic consequences. It has at times been an uneasy
alliance, some factions within the broad-based Coalition for Our
Communities disagreeing over strategy and tactics.
At the same time, the
coalition has been backed by the media, collecting a host of editorials
warning of the dire consequences of withdrawing such a large chunk of
taxpayer support for state government. One Boston Globe editorial
cartoon depicted a snarling Howell with a collection of self-help books,
including “D.I.Y. Nursing Homes,” “Rebuild your own bridges,” and
“Patrol prisons in your spare time.” An asterisked portion of the
satirical ad read, “Shipping & handling charges will be added to your
If the measure carries,
state leaders will be faced with a decision on whether or not to abide
by the electorate’s choice, or to reject it. The Hill has a recent
history of rebuffing voters, particularly over financial issues.
After a 59-41 voter
decision to force the state to bring its 5.95 tax rate back to the
previous 5 percent level, the state resisted, eventually agreeing to a
reduction to 5.3 percent, with thresholds built in to permit future
reductions. But revenue forecasts render those triggers unlikely to be
In 2003, five years after
voters approved a public financing law for state elections, the
Legislature repealed the law in a budget vote, after legislative leaders
sold furniture to comply with a court mandate to repeal the law or
auction property to fund the law.
Howell said that this
dynamic was different, in part because of the up-front savings for
“The Legislature has never
been faced [by a ballot initiative] that gives such a huge and immediate
benefit to the voters and taxpayers,” said Howell. “Some ballot
initiatives have been honored and remain in effect, a few have been
undermined that [were] of relative low importance to voters.”
The Eagle Tribune
Friday, October 31, 2008
An Eagle Tribune editorial
No on Questions 1, 2 and 3
Massachusetts voters will
be asked to consider three questions on their ballots Tuesday.
Question 1 would eliminate
the state income tax. Question 2 would end criminal penalties for
possession of small amounts of marijuana. Question 3 would ban dog
We encourage voters to vote
"No" on all three questions.
Question 1 is attracting
the most attention and passion among voters, with just cause. A similar
question was presented to voters in a prior election and failed,
although it garnered a surprisingly high level of support.
Supporters of Question 1
are rightly outraged at the waste and foolish spending in state and
local government. And every day brings new examples to support the
belief that those in government and who work in the public sector do not
understand the financial difficulties under which the rest of us live.
Whether it's extravagant benefits, ridiculous paid holidays, ludicrous
sick leave policies or pensions most folks can't even dream of, public
employees seem to believe they have a divine right to be insulated from
the vagaries of the economy — insulated courtesy of the taxpayers'
wallets. And public employment is just the beginning of ways government
finds to spend other people's money.
Question 1 wouldn't change
that. In fact, there's plenty of precedent to suggest that, even if the
measure passes, legislators would never enact it.
Question 1 would roll back
the state personal income tax in 2009 to 2.65 percent and eliminate it
altogether in 2010. The measure would cost the state about $12 billion
in tax revenue, or about 40 percent of the state's budget.
Backers claim the state can
withstand a cut of this magnitude without a loss of essential services
and without other tax increases. That just isn't possible. And given
legislators' penchant for spending other people's money, you can be sure
there will be tax increases. An increase in the sales tax will hurt
those of moderate means most. Hikes in corporate taxes will kill the job
growth needed for a vital economy.
But this is little more
than a rhetorical argument. Because there's no way the Legislature would
implement the tax repeal even if voters approve it.
Voters may recall passing
an initiative demanding a rollback of the state income tax to 5 percent.
It's currently 5.3 percent. Legislators hemmed and hawed, demanded
"studies," claimed they'd already cut taxes enough and couldn't afford
any more. If the Legislature wouldn't roll the income tax back to 5
percent, what makes anyone think it will roll it to zero?
Changing state government
takes more than passing an initiative. It takes hard work — paying
attention to the news, voting nonresponsive politicians out of office,
restoring a two-party state.
That's the job that needs
doing. Let's get started.
There's a reasonable
libertarian argument for the legalization of drugs — not one with which
we necessarily agree — that says we'd be better off if drugs were
regulated, sold in ordinary stores and taxed. That's not Question 2.
he ballot initiative would
end criminal penalties for possession of less than one ounce of
marijuana. Instead those in possession would have the drug confiscated
and a civil fine of $100 levied.
There's room for softening
of the criminal penalties for possession of small quantities of
marijuana. Prosecutors say they rarely seek such penalties anyway. They
prefer to direct young offenders into treatment programs. But this
measure goes too far and sends an inappropriate message.
Rest assured, this isn't
legalization. But it's sure to be perceived as such, particularly by the
young and impressionable. And where will they go to seek their newfound
thrills? Into the willing embrace of drug dealers, who certainly will be
ready to satisfy other curiosities as well.
Surely, this is nothing we
want to do to the young people of Massachusetts.
Question 3 would ban dog
racing by 2010. By that date, there may be nothing left to ban. There
are just two operating dog tracks in Massachusetts — Revere and Raynham
— and they are already closely regulated. Dog racing in Massachusetts is
a dying sport.
It's an all too human
tendency to seek to ban anything of which one personally disapproves.
Doing so corrodes the liberty of others who might enjoy things we find
Better to let dog racing
fade away on its own than through force of yet another government
The Salem News
Friday, October 31, 2008
Weekly column by Nelson Benton
Those Mass. Teachers Association ads urging a no vote on Question 1 are
nothing if not deceptive.
They suggest a vote to
repeal the income tax would automatically drive up property taxes,
ignoring the fact that under Proposition 2½, there's a limit on how much
cities and towns can increase real-estate taxes without an override.
And while the ads correctly
note that the loss of income-tax revenue could force the state to reduce
the amount available for local aid, they imply that these funds come
from someplace other than your pocket.
Last time we looked it's
pretty much the same people paying property and income taxes.
Citizens for Limited
Taxation has singled out Georgetown Republican Lonnie Brennan, who's
running against incumbent Rep. Barbara L'Italien, as particularly
deserving of support.
The CLT release notes that
L'Italien's 18th Essex District, which includes part of Boxford,
expressed a desire to roll back the income tax to 5 percent in 2000, yet
their representative has consistently voted against doing so.
The Boston Herald
Thursday, October 30, 2008
A call for a renegade moonbat mutiny
By Margery Eagan
My fellow moonbats, I feel
Your 401K’s down by half.
Your pension’s a joke. You’re sick of tin cup public employee unions
with their double dipping, tax-free pensions, early retirements, free
cars and phony disability claims now being investigated, in the case of
Boston firefighters, by the FBI - the same ones who just arrested serial
scammer Sen. Dianne Wilkerson with $100 dollar bills in her Playtex
But have her fellow
Democrats who run Beacon Hill demanded that she resign?
They’d never do that around
But I digress.
The point is, you’ve had
it. And you’re secretly yearning to vote yes on Question 1 to stick it
to these bums. But how will you explain yourself at the PTA? And what
about the lame, the halt, the blind, and . . . the children?
Well, here are a couple of
talking points to defend yourself from your bleeding heart neighbors and
ease your guilt - should you dare give Beacon Hill what they give us: a
great big “drop dead.”
The smart money says, even
if Question 1 passes, Beacon Hill won’t implement it. House Speaker Sal
DiMasi basically said so months ago. Since 1985 [sic - 1990], Barbara
Anderson’s Citizens for Limited Taxation has been trying to
lower the state income tax. We actually voted to do just that in 2000
and the Legislature ignored us just like they ignored the vote for clean
elections and corporate tax disclosure. They’ll ignore this too,
enabling you to vote - symbolically - with clean conscience.
If Beacon Hill cared about
the lame, the halt, the blind . . . and the children, they’d be trying
now to fix what’s bankrupting us - scam pensions and benefits. But they
can’t be bothered. They’ve hardly even tried. So the blood’s on their
hands, not yours.
Short of voting for 1, how
can you express your outrage? Sadly, that’s about it. You can’t vote the
bums out. Most bums are unopposed. You can’t vote all-Republican. There
practically aren’t any.
What happens if you chicken
out and vote against 1?
“The contempt (legislators)
will feel for us will just encourage them,” said Anderson yesterday.
It’ll tell them, no problem: a bra stuffed with cash, etc. is just fine
By the way, voting yes on 1
will not send your property taxes through the roof, as all those
for-the-children TV ads insist. We still have Proposition 2½, thank God.
The Boston Herald
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Question 1 poster girl
By Michael Graham
If taxpayers want to reform
Beacon Hill and get rid of the bloated, corrupt bureaucracy, our only
choice is to vote yes on Question 1. The saga of Dianne “Wad-O’-Cash”
Wilkerson proves that Massachusetts politicians will never do it
I love listening to
Wilkerson supporters announce their “shock” at discovering she’s
corrupt. Yeah, right. For anyone paying attention, the news is about as
shocking as finding Sen. Jim Marzilli lurking outside the ladies’ room
of the Lowell YWCA.
Boston Mayor Tom Menino
knew about Deadbeat Dianne’s long history of tax evasion, ethics
violations and financial mismanagement. But he still chose to back her
bid for re-election. Gov. Deval Patrick was well aware of her stellar
history of abysmal behavior, but he worked the phones aggressively on
Why? Because the only
agenda of Beacon Hill politicians - from the Left to the, uh, Other Left
- is maintaining their power. They see the world as Us against Them,
with the State House hacks (“Us”) manning the barricades against the
taxpaying hordes (“Them”) who foolishly think that state government is
here to serve the people.
How did an
ethically-challenged tax cheat like Dianne Wilkerson get the biggest
names on Beacon Hill to back her? They didn’t. They backed the system.
She just happened to be part of it.
It’s a system where a
government board decides who gets the “privilege” of paying $300,000 for
a liquor license. A system where a legislator like Wilkerson influences
the paychecks of the people on that board. A system where people who
just want to start a business - so they can then pay corporate, payroll
and sales taxes - have to fight the bureaucracy to do it.
Without that government
burden, Wilkerson’s time wouldn’t be worth a bra’s worth of nickels -
much less the $23,500 in alleged bribes.
That’s the system you see
at work every time you pass a police detail, or hear about a state
employee retired on full benefits at the age of 45 but working now
another six-figure government job. It’s the system that keeps the
Turnpike Authority, MassHighway and the MBTA all open for business
simultaneously on your dime.
What can you do about it?
Vote Yes on Question 1. Opponents of the tax repeal say Question 1 is
the wrong way to reform. I ask: What other way have you left us?
Vote the bums out? There
has to be a contested election first. But the Democratic Legislature has
gerrymandered out nearly every competitive seat. The game is rigged.
Don’t believe the nonsense
about Massachusetts being a one-party state. In a typical statewide
election, about 30 percent of the votes go to Republicans - even lame
ones. If that were translated into representation, we’d have three GOP
congressmen and 65 Republicans on Beacon Hill.
Instead, Massachusetts has
no Republicans in Congress, the State House is 90 percent Democrat, and
you can count endangered incumbents on one hand.
On that rarest of occasion
when an incumbent faces a real challenge, “reformers” like Deval Patrick
line up behind a corrupt incumbent like Wilkerson anyway. So much for
“change you can believe in.”
That’s why you have to vote
Yes on Question 1. The Beacon Hill power brokers won’t let you vote on
When House Speaker Sal
DiMasi and Patrick rig the game so our only “choices” are incumbents,
crooks and long-shots, why should the voters go quietly along? Those are
the “Wilkerson” rules, and I’m not playing.
I say it’s time to kick
over the board. I’m voting yes on Question 1.