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“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 20, 2019

CLT Memo to Legislators
S-2412 — Education Conference Committee Bill

To:  Representative or Senator

The conference committee's 38-page compromise bill, S-2412 ("An Act relative to educational opportunity for students"), on which you will now vote includes a subtle threat to, if not eventual circumvention of, the voters' Proposition 2½.

This needless intrusion was included as an amendment in the original Senate version of the education finance reform bill.  It was eliminated in the subsequent House version.  It has been reinserted in this conference committee take-it-or-leave-it compromise.

Section 21 directs:  "Not later than December 1, 2020, the division of local services within the department of revenue and the department of elementary and secondary education shall file a report ... The report shall include, but not be limited to:"

Section 21 (b)(vi) mandates within that report "an analysis of the impact of Proposition 2½ on the ability of municipalities to make their required local contributions in the short-term and long-term and recommendations to mitigate the constraints of Proposition 2½."

As Citizens for Limited Taxation has previously pointed out, there is no need to "mitigate the constraints of Proposition 2½."  The intentional "constraints" created by our law in 1980 were "mitigated" by CLT within our law, built into it during its drafting and in its adoption by voters.  That mitigation it provides are operational and debt exclusion overrides.

If voters within a municipality are convinced that their city or town needs more of their money, for any purpose, they can vote to increase their taxes and those of their neighbors to fund that need.  This "mitigation" has worked remarkably well over the past 39 years during which Proposition 2½ has been the law.

The potential further "mitigation" of a longstanding property tax limitation statute created and adopted directly by the people themselves does not belong in this bill.

Unfortunately there appears to be no mechanism to amend a conference committee bill.  Instead you are confronted with an all-or-nothing vote on a bill determined by a mere six select members among the two chambers of the Legislature.

So we are left with recognizing that, for whatever reason, a vote for passage of this bill will be the first step toward a potential erosion of property tax limitation.  Members voting in the affirmative will be accountable for all results initiated by their vote on this bill — both good and bad, intended and unintended.

Thank you for your attention.

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