Post Office Box 1147  ●  Marblehead, Massachusetts 01945  ●  (781) 639-9709
“Every Tax is a Pay Cut ... A Tax Cut is a Pay Raise”

45 years as “The Voice of Massachusetts Taxpayers”
and their Institutional Memory

CLT News Release
Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Memo to Members of the
Education Finance Reform Conference Committee


"Mitigating" Proposition 2½ is not needed


Sen. Jason Lewis
Rep. Alice Peisch
Sen. Michael Rodrigues
Rep. Paul Tucker
Sen. Patrick O'Connor
Rep. Kim Ferguson

Dear Conferee;

An amendment to potentially circumvent Proposition 2½ by "mitigating the constraints" of the law was included in the Senate version (S-2350) of its education finance reform bill and was adopted (Amendment #27; Roll Call Vote #102).

In the following House version the "mitigating the constraints" proposal was eliminated. A subsequent similar amendment was withdrawn (Amendment #2 to H-4137): "An analysis of the impact of Proposition 2½ on the ability of municipalities to make their required contributions in the short-term and long-term and recommendations to mitigate the constraints of Proposition 2½."

Sen. Eric Lesser, an advocate of this amendment, expressed his concern for when and if the statutory limits of Proposition 2½ are reached. He erroneously asserted, as justification to circumvent the law: "What happens is you hit the ceiling, you can't raise property taxes any more and there are no other ways to collect income often in these relatively small towns."

This is simply wrong. Proposition 2½ has always provided a solution for this situation: Operational and Debt Exclusion overrides.

Proposition 2½ was designed to empower local taxpayers to determine any and all additional property tax increases imposed upon themselves and their neighbors beyond the statutory limit, instead of having them unilaterally imposed by elected officials.

If a majority of municipal voters — taxpayers willing to bear the additional burden — can be convinced that the purpose for a tax increase is worthy then overrides are voted upon and passed. If they cannot be so convinced, then overrides fail. Both results have been experienced across the commonwealth countless times over the decades.

Proposition 2½ has been proved over almost four decades to work as it was designed. It was never anticipated when Proposition 2½ was drafted that overrides would occur but for some unexpected exigency, though they have become far more common in practice over the ensuing decades.

"Mitigation" of the so-called "constraints" needs no study or change. "Mitigation of constraints" is and always has been a part of the very law this amendment seeks to one day circumvent.

Sen. Eric Lesser recently acknowledged that "dealing with this in this [education] bill is probably beyond the scope of this bill."

Citizens for Limited Taxation — which crafted, campaigned for, and won passage of Proposition 2½ on the 1980 ballot — and, we expect, most property taxpayers across the state are in agreement. Even if it were necessary, which it is not, it does not belong in a must-pass education finance reform bill.

We urge you and the conference committee to leave out of your final recommendation this subtle effort to circumvent the voters' Proposition 2½.

Thank you for your consideration on this matter.

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Citizens for Limited Taxation    PO Box 1147    Marblehead, MA 01945    (781) 639-9709