CLT News Release

State SJC and Senate vs. The Voters

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

To:  Members of the Budget Conference Committee
cc.   House and Senate members

To keep the promise and respect voters, or not: that is now the question before the conference committee.

After more than a quarter of a century of legislative stalling, the income tax rate should return to 5 percent as promised when it was increased, as mandated by voters in 2000.

Once more, the history:

In 1989 the state income tax was hiked to 5.95 percent, "temporarily" we were promised.

See:  Was it a Promise or Wasn't It? You Decide?


Twice — twice — voters signed petitions to put the income tax rollback on the ballot. The first time, in 1997, the teachers union blocked it with a signature challenge, defeated us by 26 signatures out of tens of thousands. The second time, in 2000, we achieved ballot status. The voters overwhelmingly (59 percent) mandated that the rollback would happen gradually, within three years.

There was no question of what the voters demanded: they wanted the promise kept. The petition was plainly written and presented to the voters, and they chose the return to the 5% rate.

What Sen. Rodriguez has recently asserted, and now Senate President Rosenberg echoes, is not accurate or honest.

"'The voters did choose to reduce their personal income tax liability, but they were given no choice on the method. We are providing the same amount of tax relief to the voters of the Commonwealth by a different method. It's not a matter of if we provide that tax relief, but how we provide that tax relief,' Rodrigues said." [State House News Service — May 19, 2015 — Senate approves income tax freeze to fund targeted tax relief, by Matt Murphy]

The voters by 59 percent chose our path.

In 2002 the Legislature again "temporarily" froze the voters' income tax rollback mandate at 5.3 percent with economic "triggers" that would — we were again promised — eventually rollback the rate to its historical 5 percent.  They stifled the voters' vote.

And here we go again, another threat to the twenty-five year old broken promise that the rate hike would be only "temporary."

Senate President Stanley Rosenberg has long lusted for a graduated income tax — which requires the difficulty of a constitutional amendment, already defeated five times on the ballot. This is his latest incarnation of it, creeping ahead.

But the issue right now is keeping the promise after 25 years, obeying the voters’ mandate after 15 years of their vote.

We think it’s time to restore the integrity of the Legislature on this issue.

We hope that the conference committee will support the House on this issue, and remove the Senate language to kill the voters’ income tax rollback.


Thank you.


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