Help save yourself -- join CLT today!

CLT introduction  and membership  application

What CLT saves you from the auto excise tax alone

Ask your friends to join too

Sunday, February 5, 2012

CLT vs. “Campaign for Our Communities”
Want to choose sides?

Chip Ford's CLT Commentary

Barbara was recently invited by the “Providers' Council for caring communities” to write a counterpoint column for its monthly publication, The Provider. The Providers' Council is a non-profit, tax-exempt offshoot of the Massachusetts Council of Human Service Providers, Inc.

According to The Social Network for Sustainability, "The Massachusetts Council of Human Service Providers, Inc. (a non-governmental organization) is a state-wide association of health and human service agencies. Founded in 1975, the Providers' Council is the state's largest human service trade association and is widely recognized as the official voice of the private provider industry."

The point column was written by Andi Mullin, the campaign director for Campaign for our Communities, which longtime CLT activists will recognize as the latest incarnation of our longtime adversary TEAM the Tax Equity Alliance for Massachusetts or as many of us preferred to call it, Tax Everything and More. Its most recent tax hike campaign is to hike the state income tax rate to 5.95 percent. (To refresh your memory or for more information on its ongoing tax hike campaign, see the links beneath the point/counterpoint columns.)

Chip Ford


Click the button for a PDF version

The Provider
The Newspaper of the Providers’ Council
Vol. 33, No. 2 February 2012

Point / Counterpoint

POINT: Raising revenue to invest in the Commonwealth’s communities
By Andi Mullin

Over the next five months, the state Legislature will focus on crafting the Fiscal 2013 budget, and we already have been warned by both the Patrick Administration and legislative leaders that, despite some modest growth in the economy, we can expect another year of budget cuts. This has become a familiar refrain – we hear it every single year.

Why? Because during the 1990s Massachusetts enacted some 40 tax cuts, eventually costing the Commonwealth about $3 billion annually.

This has left Massachusetts with a persistent “revenue deficit” – a deficit that predates the current recession. This gap between the revenues we collect and the cost of the services we all want haunts us year after year, whether the economy is good or in a slump.

We have muddled through the past few years largely by relying on assistance from the federal government. The federal stimulus provided the Commonwealth with funding that helped to preserve critical services,. But that money is gone now, and indeed Washington is focused on forcing us to cut our way out of deficits instead of growing our way out of the recession.

In FY '13, Massachusetts’ deficit is estimated to be between $1 billion and $1.5 billion. If the federal government continues to cut spending, that gap will only grow in coming years.

For those who receive and provide human services, a sector which is perennially on the chopping block, this is distressing news.

The human services sector is vital to a healthy economy in our state. That portion of the sector represented just by the Providers’ Council serves one in ten Massachusetts residents and employs nearly 200,000 people.

Furthermore, taking care of our must vulnerable citizens is part of what makes our Commonwealth a good place to live for all of us.

Forcing this sector of our economy – along with education, public safety, environmental protections and a host of other public services – to continue to absorb funding cuts year after year is not the way to grow our economy.

There is another approach we could take. Massachusetts didn’t become a leader nationally in public education, health care coverage and job growth by relentlessly cutting public services.

We got there by investing in our communities, strengthening our economy and improving the quality of life of Massachusetts families.

The Campaign for our Communities believes that we must continue that investment by passing legislation that raises substantial new revenue while holding down increases for low and middle income families.

“An Act to Invest in Our Communities” (HB2553/SB1416) is an example of legislation that would accomplish these goals. This bill, sponsored by Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz and Rep. James O’Day, would raise more than $1.3 billion in revenue by increasing the tax rate on ordinary wage and investment income, while simultaneously increasing the personal exemption to hold down tax increases for middle class families and seniors. The bill was referred to the Joint Committee on Revenue last spring, and is still in the committee awaiting action.

The solution it presents is a far better solution to our revenue deficit than continuing to cut the services that make our communities strong.

We all want the same things: good schools, thriving neighborhoods, a strong economy and services for those who need them.

But we can’t get there by continuing to cut away at the programs and services that accomplish those goals. We must invest in our communities.

We all have a stake in the future of Massachusetts. We need to decide what we want it to look like.

Andi Mullin is the campaign director for Campaign for Our Communities,

The Provider
The Newspaper of the Providers’ Council
Vol. 33, No. 2 February 2012

Point / Counterpoint

COUNTERPOINT: Taxpayers against waste, not services for the most vulnerable
By Barbara Anderson

“Perhaps an orientation to unlimited growth, an awareness of complexities and a fascination with a vast array of dazzling statistics, charts and graphs have calloused and conditioned our minds, causing us to forget such basic values as simplicity, smallness, respect, freedom, and order. Prop 2½ responds to such values”.

Martha D. Dunn, New England Journal of Human Services, 1981.

It’s been over thirty years since Martha Dunn visited my office to do an interview about Proposition 2½, the property tax limit which voters had just passed. We featured this quote from her article in our Citizens for Limited Taxation (CLT) flyer, as she became one of the few people outside our own circle of activists who “gets” it.

CLT’s mission: The Commonwealth should raise enough taxes to provide essential services, avoid high levels of state debt, and set aside money for reasonable pension and healthcare benefits, while not indulging in what we call WIMPAC – waste , inefficiency, mismanagement, patronage, abuse (of power), and corruption.

Instead, the Commonwealth carries the fourth highest per capita tax burden and one of the highest levels of debt and unfunded liabilities in the country, while insisting it can’t afford to maintain the transportation infrastructure or provide basic services.

I’ve never heard a taxpayer complain about paying to care for individuals with mental illness or developmental disabilities. Yet these areas are usually the first cut when the state spends itself into another fiscal crisis.

The political establishment would rather argue for a tax increase to deal with non-controversial, even favored expenditures, than admit it needs hike taxes for its usual priorities. Few hard-working taxpayers are willing to pay more for extraordinary salaries and benefits for university administrators, for incompetent public housing and special education “managers” in Chelsea and Lawrence, for Probation Department patronage, for fat-cat pension ripoffs, for free health care for non-Massachusetts residents, just to mention the most recent scandals.

After we limited property taxes, CLT supported more state aid for local communities, until we noticed that the new state money was being given by local officials to local public employee unions in high, unsustainable levels of benefits.

The money earned by Massachusetts citizens is divided three ways: one part for them to spend on their own needs and charitable giving; one part to pay for essential government services; and one section for WIMPAC.

Human service providers should join with taxpayers to attack that third, inexcusable expenditure. The difference between our two groups may be that providers are willing to tolerate a larger amount of waste than we are. Starting in 1980, the taxpayers have been in revolt against being robbed and used.

Of course there will be some different definitions of “waste.” Taxpayers have little tolerance for many areas of welfare, either human service or corporate; we discourage bad incentives or moral hazard. We dislike anyone feeling “entitled” to what we earn. But we like to help those who really need assistance, we want to create incentives to become productive, and we are happy to pay our share of services that benefit the Commonwealth as a whole.

As for the recent income tax rate cut from 5.3 to 5.25%: This is the result of a 2000 ballot question that voters passed in order to make the state keep its promise that the “emergency” tax hike of 1989 would be “temporary.” We voters told our elected officials to cut that rate back to 5% as promised: We are the employers, and legislators are the employees; we expect them to do what we say.

So the tiny tax cut that began on January 1 has little to do with the amount of money we get to keep, and everything to do with what Martha Dunn might call “respect.” If we can get the state to respect those who fund it, perhaps someday it might actually do its job and provide good services at a price we’re willing to pay.

Barbara Anderson is the executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation (CLT).


NOTE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to:

Citizens for Limited Taxation    PO Box 1147    Marblehead, MA 01945    508-915-3665