Round Two Petitions Are Going Fast:
New Petition Drive Volunteers Welcomed!

Many petition packages are already in the mail and the rest are being put together and mailed out as you read this. If you pledged a specific number signatures to CLT last fall, you will be receiving a petition package in the mail in the coming week.

If you did NOT volunteer last fall and pledge a certain number of signatures to CLT, and you want to join this time in keeping the promise and rolling back the eleven year-old "temporary" income tax, we can sure use your help in the next few weeks! Click the link below and let us know: we'll get your petition package right out to you!

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Chip Ford

If you were NOT a CLT volunteer petitioner last fall and want to help us help you now

The Telegram & Gazette
Worcester, Mass.
Monday, May 8, 2000

The people's voice
Legislature forces referendum on tax rollback

As expected, the Legislature has declined to place the income tax rollback question on the Nov. 7 election ballot, forcing the petitioners to submit another 9,517 signatures -- in addition to the 150,000 already collected -- to force the referendum.

If approved by voters, the measure would begin a phased rollback of the state income tax rate to the former 5 percent level.

The legislative intransigence on tax relief is in character. The increase was enacted, amid loud assurances it would be temporary, to keep the state solvent after the collapse of the "Massachusetts miracle" in the late 1980s -- and lawmakers have been concocting implausible excuses for not rolling it back ever since.

We are highly skeptical of government by initiative petition. Referendums, which bypass hearings and legislative debate, tend to be blunt political instruments, often with unintended consequences. Moreover, special interests using hired signature collectors have begun co-opting a process.

But referendums are justified, as last resorts, when the Legislature refuses to act -- and this is one of those times. Despite bulging state coffers in recent years, the Legislature has approved only a fractional reduction from 5.95 percent to the current 5.85 percent.

Citizens for Limited Taxation, the advocacy group that championed Proposition 2.5, is sponsoring the referendum. With the added resources of Gov. Paul Cellucci's campaign organization, CLT is in an excellent position to get the question on the ballot.

If history is a guide, voters are virtually certain to seize the chance to keep a little more of their money in their own pockets instead of turning it over to the state.

After a decade of steady economic growth -- and temptingly ample tax collections -- many lawmakers appear to have forgotten the fiscal damage that can result from unsustainable spending growth. The $21.7 billion House budget for 2001 calls for nearly an 8 percent increase over 2000 -- quadruple the rate of inflation -- and the Senate likely will boost spending even more.

The phased-in tax relief sought by initiative petition may be taxpayers' last, best hope of trimming the money tree and bringing to Beacon Hill a renewed sense of fiscal restraint.

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