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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

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Tuesday, April 7, 2020

The Endless Game of Whack-a-Tax
By Jon Keller

Tomorrow is a sad milestone.

It’s the fourth anniversary of the passing of Barbara Anderson, the longtime head of Citizens for Limited Taxation and a fierce defender of her landmark achievement, the 1980 Proposition 2½ ballot initiative that put a lid on soaring property taxes.

And Barbara would surely be turning in her grave if she knew about an emerging threat to her policy baby.

Proposition 2½ was inspired by what California had done two years earlier when they passed Proposition 13, an even tighter cap on property tax hikes. But now that law is under siege by public-employee unions - bankrolled by Mark Zuckerberg - who want to discard its commercial tax limits as a warm up, their critics claim, to going after the property tax break.

And no less an expert than Chip Ford, the current head of CLT and Barbara Anderson’s longtime colleague, fears the same thing may happen here. The imminent depletion of the rainy-day fund and the drain on local finances caused by the pandemic sets the stage for dramatic revenue shortfalls. Could a resurgent economy amid public gratitude for state and local government’s handling of the crisis clear the way for a Prop 2½ takedown?

California could once again be the canary in the coal mine. In a nod to the famous Rahm Emanuel quote about never letting a good crisis “go to waste,” Ford notes the chronic pressure on Beacon Hill to ease Prop. 2½ limitations, most recently seen in language in the huge education funding bill that calls for a study of “mitigating” the tax cap’s impact.

It’s the kind of maneuver Anderson battled for decades, an endless game of whack-a-tax. And in an ominous sign for CLT, Ford says they asked Gov. Baker to veto that language in the ed bill, but he refused. Says Ford: “I’ve given up counting on him for anything.”

Jon Keller & Barbara

CLT’s 25th Anniversary Banquet
May 20, 1999
Jon Keller, political commentator of WLVI TV-56,
receives the 7th Warren T. Brookes Award
from Barbara Anderson, executive director of CLT


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