CLT Update
Friday, December 8, 2000

Another alternative solution to a perceived problem

Question 4 foes said the bill is a frivolous attempt to rub their noses in their defeat at the polls.... "It is a way of poking a finger at those of us who lost a campaign."

James St. George
Executive Director, TEAM
The Brockton Enterprise
Dec. 7, 2000

Oh Jimmy, stick a sock in it, whining-time is over. We're not trying to put you in some newly-created victim class. We're providing you with an opportunity, if you'll only do something with it.

Finding a better and more libertarian solution to a perceived problem after we've defeated the big government "solution" is not new here.

In 1986 I led the ballot campaign which successfully repealed the state's first mandatory seat belt law. Following the election, I quickly filed legislation called the Buckle-Up Bonus.

The problem, we were told throughout the campaign, was that without a law nobody would use their seat belts. We needed the law to prevent the number and extent of deaths and injuries and their inherent expense, the "financial burden on society."

The Buckle-Up Bonus simply proposed an auto insurance premium discount to any motorist who was, first, involved in an accident, and also, found to have been using a seat belt along with all his passengers.

Nobody even qualified for the discount until they'd already "saved money" for the insurance industry, as we'd been assured the mandatory law would have done.

I bent over backward to make the bill acceptable to all interested parties. "The stick approach was tried and rejected; now let's give the carrot approach a chance," I suggested. "It's easier to pull a rope than to push it."

Even my erstwhile opponents in that campaign from the well-funded Massachusetts Seat Belt Coalition attended the legislative hearing and testified in favor of the Buckle-Up Bonus.

Sadly, the Buckle-Up Bonus was killed by the army of insurance lobbyists who swarmed all over the hearing room crying foul, that the sky would fall if my bill was adopted.

Force is not the answer in an alleged free society; government does not always have to resort to the stick first. There are creative solutions that involve the carrot, if they're only given a chance. Generally, though, the stick comes out first.

As today's Boston Herald editorial reports, the carrot approach to voluntary tax contributions has been successful in Barbara's former home state of Pennsylvania, so our VOTE proposal is not as frivolous as many would attempt to make it appear.

The Massachusetts Teachers Association recently spent $600,000 on an advertising campaign attempting to kill MCAS. It and TEAM spent another couple million bucks on a media blitz to defeat Question 4. Just think of the effect all that money could have if each spring, just before tax returns are due, the MTA and TEAM invested some of that money in a media blitz promoting a VOTE check-off on tax returns!

CLT won Question 4, but we have not walked away from the concerns of our erstwhile opponents this time either.

Instead, we have contributed what we do best: We have provided them with a positive, creative, alternative solution to their perceived problem. Now let's see if the Gimme Lobby will support our bill then step up to the plate and do what it does best: Spend the money.

Chip Ford

The Boston Herald
Friday, December 8, 2000

Donating that tax break
A Boston Herald editorial

Fresh from its ballot victory rolling back the state income tax rate, Citizens for Limited Taxation has come up with a nifty idea. It would give all those Massachusetts citizens who claimed that they didn't need the tax cut an easy way not to take it.

The group is proposing legislation to establish a checkoff on the state income tax return permitting taxpayers to give to the General Fund the amount the rate reduction benefitted them. When fully effective in three years, the reduction in the rate from the 5.75 percent scheduled for then to 5 percent would amount to a bit more than $300 for a married couple making $50,000 (assuming no change in exemptions).

Many legislators will dismiss this idea -- their feeling being that they see no need to help Citizens for Limited Taxation show how few people will reject the tax cut for themselves. These lawmakers should think again.

There probably aren't many people who truly would prefer the state to keep the $300 or whatever the amount is, but there are some and they are sincere, as the experience of Pennsylvania shows.

Part of an $800 million tax cut in Pennsylvania this year consisted of $100 rebate checks from the state to help 2.5 million property owners pay local property taxes. A "give back the giveback" campaign has seen many checks signed over to local schools -- the city of Philadelphia, where the schools are facing an $80 million deficit, expects $50,000 in donated rebate checks.

This is admittedly a drop in Philadelphia's bucket, but it represents the generosity of 500 residents of the city and other Pennsylvanians. Massachusetts should accommodate such generosity instead of rebuffing it.

The Enterprise
Brockton, Mass.
Thursday, December 7, 2000

Marini bill tweaks tax-cut opponents
By Seth Owen
Enterprise staff writer

BOSTON -- Opponents of Question 4 said the income tax rollback initiative went too far. Now supporters of the November referendum are inviting them to back their beliefs with bucks.

House Minority Leader Francis Marini, R-Hanson, filed a bill Wednesday that would allow taxpayers to check off a box to pay a higher tax rate if they choose. A similar bill was filed by Sen. Jo Ann Sprague and two co-sponsors.

Question 4 supporters said they think Marini's bill is a great idea, forcing supporters of higher taxes to practice what they preach.

"It sounds like a great bill," said Tax Rollback Committee spokesman Bobby Matthews. "Now those politicians who opposed Question 4 can put their money where their mouth is."

Question 4 foes said the bill is a frivolous attempt to rub their noses in their defeat at the polls.

"I'm surprised that a legislator who purports to be a serious leader would submit such a silly proposal," said James St. George, executive director of the Tax Equity Alliance, which opposed Question 4.

"It is a way of poking a finger at those of us who lost a campaign," St. George said.

Question 4, which was opposed by many municipal officials who claimed it would reduce local aid to cities and towns, lowers the income tax rate from the present 5.85 percent to 5 percent over three years.

The bill filed by Marini Wednesday originated with Citizens for Limited Taxation, said Director Barbara Anderson.

"Our opponents are always saying they don't mind paying taxes," she said. "The difference between us is that liberals want to make us do something they want us to do that we don't want to, where we aren't trying to make them do anything."

Marini said the bill would direct the Department of Revenue to put a check box on the tax form so people can pay taxes at the higher rate.

"This legislation will enable those citizens (who thought Question 4 went to far) to pay higher taxes and give the Legislature additional funds to pay for particular projects at higher levels or pay off debt or spend any way they deem appropriate. If people want their money spent, they should feel comfortable in sending it to the Legislature," Marini said in a statement.

St. George said Question 4 will cost the state revenue that could have been used for things such as education. Question 4 supporters said the state has enough revenue, he said. "We will see as the tax cut progresses whether they were telling the truth."

"The bottom line is that no services will be cut," said Tax Rollback's Matthews. "If people want to give the Legislature money, go for it."

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