Desperate Senate Dem's Sleazy Scam Aims to Confuse Voters

It was no surprise yesterday when the Democrat majority in the state Senate voted unanimously to override Governor Cellucci's veto of the teachers union's "Early Retirement" scheme for teachers. It was more of a surprise that even one senator, Henri Rauschenbach (R-Brewster), had the courage to stand up to the teachers union and defend the governor's veto while the rest of the Republicans predictably rolled over.

What was a surprise was to find out that with our Tax Rollback ballot question, there is a "Majority Report" of the Joint Committee on Taxation against its passage, a "Minority Report" of the committee in favor of its passage, and now -- after yesterday's vote in the Senate -- a "Minority Report" of the committee against rolling back the income tax rate!

That probably sounds a little confusing -- and that is exactly what the pro-tax Gimme Lobby is hoping! Here's how it works:

In the fall the Secretary of State will print and mail out to every voting household his Voters Information Guide. It will list every question on the upcoming ballot and provide information on what each proposed question would do. Here's where the Senate got too cute.

Each side of a ballot question gets to include a 150-word statement either supporting or opposing passage, but it doesn't stop there.

Each question also contains legislative reports from when the proposed initiative had its hearing before the Legislature, required by the state Constitution by the first Wednesday in May.

The Joint Committee on Taxation -- made up of House and Senate members -- gave our rollback question an "Ought Not Pass" recommendation and that killed it. The majority voted it down, and wrote their Majority Report. Our supporters on the committee wrote their Minority Report defending the rollback.

Normally, those two reports would accompany the "Pro and Con" statements in the Voters Information Guide.

That wasn't good enough for our opponents, because it was too fair, too straightforward, to objective. So our opponents in the majority voted to stack the deck in the hope of confusing voters in November.

The Senate voted overwhelmingly to give their opponents of our proposed tax rollback both a "Majority Report" against our rollback -- and an additional "Minority Report" also against it.

Only on Bacon Hill or in Alice's Wonderland!

Our side will have only its "Minority Report" in favor of the rollback.

All Senate Republicans voted against the perversion, along with one Democrat, Sen Guy Glodis of Worcester.

Their pathetic excuse is that senators on the Committee and representatives had different reasons for voting down our petition. There is no depth to which the slime on Bacon Hill will not ooze when it gets desperate enough.

The truth behind their desperate ploy was only too clear.  More Is Never Enough!

Whether it's our money -- or their unethical behavior in rapacious pursuit of it.

Chip Ford

Click here for the full debate on the Senate's "Voters Dis-Information Guide" scam.

Coming up Monday on Beacon Hill -- ready for this? -- will be a hearing on PAID family leave; a new proposal to use "surplus" Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund money to pay for voluntary parental leave. (Did anyone ever believe "unpaid family leave" would remain unpaid once the More Is Never Enough crowd got past their first incremental step?)

The MetroWest Daily News
Thursday, June 23, 2000

Teachers win plan for early retirement
By David B. Caruso
News State House Bureau

BOSTON -- School teachers yesterday celebrated the passage of a bill that will allow them to retire earlier, with better benefits, in exchange for a moderate increase in the amount they pay into the state pension system.

The Democratic-controlled state Senate overwhelmingly shot down Gov. Paul Cellucci's veto of the bill which will let some teachers retire with a full pension after working for 30 years.

But it wasn't just school teachers heralding the bill's passage yesterday. Government employees of all types watched the teacher package with interest, and more than a few worker unions are now expected to step forward and ask for enhanced benefits of their own.

Some of the first in line: employees who, like teachers, claim that they run a high risk of burnout if they stay on the job too long.

Police groups have been pushing a bill similar to the teacher package that would allow officers to retire with 75 percent of their salary after 25 years at work.

Firefighters have also begun talking about a pension bill that would let them walk off the job with their health still intact.

"This is a young man's job," said Natick firefighter Michael Aries. "Under the retirement system in place now, a lot of these guys have to go until they are 62 or 63 to get their full pension ... and the problem with that is that the body does not cooperate that well at that age. It gets a lot tougher to carry hoses and climb ladders.

"Our guys get off the job, and all too often within five years of their retirement they are dead."

Current state retirement laws tie most pension payments to an employee's age, as well as his or her length of service. Teachers, under the bill passed this week, will have to pay more to be part of the pension system -- 11 percent of their weekly paycheck. In return, teachers will be able to retire with 80 percent salary after 30 years on the job.

The police retirement bill currently under consideration would set up a similar system under which officers could retire with 75 percent of their salaries after 25 years, but would have to contribute 14 percent of their pay to the fund while they were still working.

Sen. Henri Rauschenbach, R-Brewster, who cast the lone vote against the teachers' bill, cautioned that the package will set a new standard against which all future retirement deals will be measured.

He said he worries the bill might set off a slew of demands by other groups for equal or even greater benefits, and that the Legislature might eventually be pressured into giving favorable treatment to some employees at the expense of others.

"Whatever standard is set should be set for all, as opposed to just the few," Rauschenbach said. "Are we going to set up different standards for police officers in our community? Are we going to set different standards for firefighters?"

Many town officials, already worried about replacing retiring teachers, expect to see other government employee unions coming forward to demand benefits at least as good as the ones offered to teachers.

Framingham Town Administrator George King said he sympathizes with teachers, police officers and firefighters who want to retire early, but worries about the ability of cash-strapped municipalities to pay for the extra benefits, including steep health care costs for both the pensioners and the new hires.

"One understands why the unions want it, but it is very expensive in a number of ways," he said. King added that a plan that would allow police officers to retire with nearly a full salary after 25 years on the job would prompt huge departures from the force.

"You'd have to get out of the way of the stampede," he said. "I understand the pressures they are under on the job ... but 25 years is not a lot of time. You would be retired for far longer than you were ever on the job."

Cellucci lobbied unsuccessfully against the bill, saying it is so lucrative it would spark an exodus of teachers from public schools. He has yet to weigh in on other retirement packages.

Cellucci spokesman John Birtwell, however, said the governor is concerned that the same argument might apply to other professions that have had trouble attracting and holding on to experienced personnel.

"I think it is a very legitimate point that has been raised. Obviously in the instance of the teachers' retirement bill, our greatest concern was the impact (teacher departures) would have on education reform, and that won't apply with these other groups of employees.

"But I can't imagine that there is any worker in the public or private sector who would not like to retire earlier and with better benefits."

The Legislature's override was the first of a Cellucci veto this year.

The Senate yesterday voted 38-1 in favor of the bill. The tally in favor of the measure was equally strong in the House on Wednesday, with members voting 145-5 to override Cellucci's veto.

The two votes continue a long pattern of legislative assaults on Cellucci's veto power. Last year, Republicans joined Democrats in a bipartisan effort to override scores of gubernatorial vetoes on the state budget.

Republicans joined the Democrats again this week in opposition to Cellucci, with five notable exceptions: Sen. Rauschenbach, House Minority Leader Rep. Francis Marini, R-Hanson, Rep. Brian Cresta, R-Wakefield, Rep. Ronald Gauch, R-Shrewsbury, and Rep. Kevin Finnegan, R-Newburyport.

There are seven Republicans in the Senate and 27 in the House, not enough to uphold a Cellucci veto in either branch.

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