Greetings activists and supporters ... and thank you one and all!

When we finally succeed, we certainly do it with a bang! CLT and the governor's Tax Rollback Committee turned in 29,435 certified signatures to Secretary of State William Galvin yesterday -- more than THREE TIMES the 9,517 required!

Thanks so much to each and every one of you who had a hand in this incredible conclusion to four long years of determined battle, who helped us collect those 200,000-plus signatures over the three drives!

Thanks to Paul Melkonian and his team at the governor's Tax Rollback Committee, for their commitment, long hours, and hard work.

Thanks to Carla Howell and her U.S. Senate campaign's volunteers, who worked Nantasket Beach one weekend and pulled in hundreds of signatures, and to Steve Olson who discovered the beach's potential and organized the event.

And to Ian Bayne, Bill Rivers, and the Jack E. Robinson U.S. Senate campaign for its help in the closing weeks.

Thanks to Len & Regina Mead and Marsha Ciccolo of the Newton Taxpayers Association; Roger & Sarah Blood and Allen Moulton of the Brookline taxpayers group; John & Sandra MacMillan of the Billerica Republican Town Committee, and Sheila Richardson of the Dracut Town Committee.

Special thanks to the usual CLT backbone, Plymouth County coordinators Norm and Joan Paley, who also assisted with the final count at the Marriott on Monday; Mark Ferguson of Holden; George Withington and Sarah Adams of Newton; Middleton's one-man petition drive, Tony Duskey; Jerzy Jachimczyk of Southbridge - and to CLT's own Chip Faulkner, who collected over 800 signatures himself while also coordinating our drive!

With more than 900 CLT volunteers who pledged a specific number of signatures at the outset of this endeavor, there's no way I can thank each of you personally here: I'm sure I'm not even close to naming you all. But Barbara's and my heartfelt thanks go out to each of you who've battled alongside us in the trenches over all the years, who've refused to give up despite the powers that be and the obstacles they've consistently thrown in our way!

Together, we persevered, we persisted and finally ... we succeeded!

You may recall that after we lost by 26 signatures to the teachers union challenge back in 1998, Barbara and I took a vacation to Hawaii ... and while there, I sent Jimmy St. George a great postcard. (you've got to see it if you haven't already to understand what follows!)

Knowing he'd be there when we turned in our petitions yesterday, attempting to rain on our parade with his Gimme Lobby spin, I wore one of my Hawaiian shirts picked up while there. When he slithered onto the scene, I confronted him and announced that I'd specifically worn this shirt in his honor, to remind him of my 1998 postcard. He remembered. Then, in the native Hawaiian custom as depicted on the postcard, I stuck out my tongue as a sign of warrior contempt for his enemy!

Chip Ford

State House News Service
Wednesday, July 5, 2000

SURPLUS UPDATE: Administration and finance officials confirm strong tax receipts mean an unexpected surplus of more than $200 million and possibly as much as $230 million. Cellucci is considering a variety of options for the sudden surplus, including paying down debt, spending it on one-time capital projects or emergency needs, or depositing it into the state's rainy day fund. Administration officials say the stabilization fund is approaching a balance that would trigger an automatic tax cut. The administration will likely file a new bill outlining its plans for the surplus; several Cellucci-sponsored spending bills are still hanging around.

The Boston Herald
Thursday, July 6, 2000

Cellucci: Tax cut going before voters on November ballot
by Karen E. Crummy

Gov. Paul Cellucci announced yesterday his $1.2 billion tax cut initiative will appear on the November ballot after it received three times the required voter signatures needed to pass muster.

"This is the way to keep Massachusetts heading in the right direction and to make sure we're competitive with the new globalization of the economy," Cellucci said.

The initiative rolls back the state income tax rate from 5.85 percent to 5 percent by 2003 and would return $600 to the average family of four while curtailing overspending by the Legislature, he said.

An increase in state revenues has left the state with a budget surplus, causing a battle between Republicans and Democrats over the excess money.

House Ways and Means Chairman Paul R. Haley (D-Weymouth) said most of the surplus should be used to reduce the per capita debt instead of "dramatic" tax reductions.

"We should pay for the improvements and investments we've made in the last few years now instead of burdening the next generation with them," Haley said.

Jim St. George, executive director of Campaign for Massachusetts's Future, echoed Haley's concerns and said the governor's tax cut might pull funding from state schools and health care.

The ballot initiative is also expected to face strenuous opposition from the Massachusetts Teachers Association, which has said the initiative would threaten state aid to education.

Stephen Gorrie, president of the association, did not return calls from the Herald.

Proponents of the tax cut believe the action is long overdue.

In 1989, the Legislature raised the income tax as a "temporary" measure to deal with the state's recession.

"The Legislature not keeping its word to the people is the number one point in all this," said Barbara Anderson, director of Citizens for Limited Taxation and Government, who worked with the governor on the tax cut.

Other initiatives filed yesterday and being reviewed for certification by the Secretary of State's office include a law to develop a comprehensive health care coverage system, an initiative to encourage charitable giving by creating a tax deduction for those who give to charities, and a measure that would direct drug forfeiture money toward drug treatment.

Certified for the November ballot are an initiative to allow a tax credit for highway, tunnel and bridge tolls, and an initiative to ban greyhound dog racing.

With the Legislature's addition of at least two proposed constitutional amendments -- one of which would bar prisoners from voting -- the total number of initiatives now stands at eight, one of the most crowded ballots in the state's history.

The Boston Herald
Thursday, July 6, 2000

Taxpayers' chance to reclaim money
A Boston Herald editorial

Gov. Paul Cellucci and veteran anti-tax activist Barbara Anderson have filed three times as many signatures as needed to get the income tax rate rollback on the November ballot. This is how to cut taxes. All that remains is to do it.

News that the fiscal year just finished produced a surplus of about $700 million instead of the planned-for $500 million could keep the issue in the spotlight for the rest of the legislative session.

There's a chance that $200 million could be given back to the taxpayers through an adjustment in the personal exemption, though don't bet your vacation bonus on it. Judging by past experience, the Legislature may want to devote it to capital projects around the state -- roads, bridges, parks, buildings and so forth -- as was done last year, or to pay down more state debt than planned, or to beef up yet another social program.

Taxpayers have to take back their money permanently, and the ballot initiative is the way to do it. Polls show three-quarters of voters are prepared to do just that.

Cellucci's cut would return the income tax rate to 5 percent, where it was before the "temporary" increase in 1990, from the current 5.85 percent. It would cost about $1.1 billion a year when fully in effect in three years. The size of the surplus, and the rate of growth of state revenues, shows that this is a practical goal.

But hasn't the Legislature cut taxes enough? The very existence of growing surpluses answers that question in the negative.

Legislatures by nature respond to interest groups. Sen. Claghorn's support of mandatory hang-nail coverage by health insurers makes hang-nail sufferers tell Claghorn over and over what a godsend to humanity he is, to the point where the senator begins to believe it.

There is a constant upward bias in spending. Just open any recent budget document -- the Senate's version of the next budget, Page 15: "We increase the eligibility for the Emergency Rent Arrearage program from 100 percent to 130 percent of the federal poverty level." Why? Well, last year the state increased the eligibility for family shelters to 130 percent of the federal poverty level and, "This is the logical next step" to keep families out of shelters.

No doubt this money will not be wasted, but there's always a logical next step. This is why, from the depth of the recession in 1992, the budget has grown at twice the rate of inflation, and more than twice the rate of growth in real personal income.

This is what makes us give only two cheers for the House version of the budget, which would continue the current molasses-slow schedule of rate cuts after the 2002 fiscal year, when the rate is supposed to reach 5.75 percent. The House wants a 0.1 percentage point rate cut for every 2.5 percentage points of growth in real personal income in Massachusetts. In all likelihood, it would take about 10 years to bring the rate back to 5 percent.

There are too many "logical next steps" in the coming decade to have any confidence at all that the Legislature wouldn't grab the increased revenues and leave the taxpayer looking like Charley Brown after Lucy snatched the football away. Assuming it makes the ballot, as it should, the governor's tax cut will avoid such an embarrassment. It deserves your vote.

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