CLT Update
Wednesday, April 18, 2001

Governor Swift signs "No New Taxes" pledge

At a State House news conference yesterday, Gov. Jane M. Swift followed the tradition set by former-Governors Weld and Cellucci and signed our "No New Taxes" pledge.

The pledge was presented for her signature by CLT Associate Director Chip Faulkner.

The "No New Taxes" pledge has proven to be an effective, often invaluable, tool for pro-taxpayer candidates and office-holders, because it establishes a certain policy position from the start. Everybody knows where that individual stands and the futility of proposing a tax increase of any sort without overwhelming support.

In Massachusetts especially -- with the Democrat majority's tax-and-spend proclivity -- it insures taxpayers of a gubernatorial veto and necessitates a two-thirds vote in the Legislature to override that veto. This gives taxpayers at least a fighting chance.

In 1998, then-Attorney General and Democrat gubernatorial challenger L. Scott Harshbarger was invited to sign the pledge. He rejected the opportunity, calling it "stupid." We saw where that got him, and is at least partially the reason why we're not calling him Governor Harshbarger!

Harshbarger Calls CLT&G "No New Taxes" Pledge "Stupid"

CLT&G News Release
Only Harshbarger Refuses "No New Taxes" Pledge

The "No New Taxes" Taxpayer Protection Pledge was initiated by Americans for Tax Reform in 1986. Citizens for Limited Taxation is ATR's Massachusetts affiliate. The ATR website states the following:

Since 1986, ATR has sponsored the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, a written promise by legislators and candidates for office that commits them to oppose any effort to increase the federal income taxes on individuals and businesses.

At present, 209 U.S. Representatives and 41 U.S. Senators have signed the pledge. In addition, all Republican candidates for President of the United States have signed the pledge while neither of the Democratic candidates have signed the pledge.

ATR works with state taxpayer coalitions in all 50 states to ask candidates for state legislature and governor to sign the STATE TAXPAYER PROTECTION PLEDGE which reads:

"I [name] pledge to the taxpayers of the [district #] district, of the state of [state], and to all the people of this state, that I will oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase taxes."

Visit the ATR website for a list of those who have taken the pledge.

Chip Ford

The Boston Globe
Wednesday, April 18, 2001

Swift, facing cigarette move, pledges to veto tax increases
By Rick Klein
Globe Staff

Setting up a clash with legislative leaders, Acting Governor Jane M. Swift promised yesterday that no tax increases would avoid her veto.

Leaders of the House and Senate both support boosting one tax, the cigarette levy, by 50 cents a pack, to $1.26. This would make the tax the highest in the country.

The proposal will not be part of the House Ways and Means budget plan being released today, but the committee chairman, John H. Rogers, said the tax could become an amendment.

"Clearly there's a lot of support around here for an increase in cigarette taxes," Rogers said.

In 1996, Swift supported an increase of 25 cents per pack. Then, Governor William F. Weld's veto was overridden.

Yesterday, at a news conference, Swift signed a big "no new taxes" pledge card.

"I can't think of any exception that's legitimate," she said.

Swift also proposed increasing the earned-income tax credit. The move, which is popular among Democrats, would reduce the amount of state income taxes owed by poor residents.

Swift's willingness to veto a cigarette tax could set up a political jousting match with the Legislature over aid to community hospitals.

The administration's proposed budget, filed in January, called for using money from a settlement with big tobacco companies to help community hospitals -- an idea that House leaders have dismissed.

The Boston Herald
Wednesday, April 18, 2001

Birmingham accuses Swift of 'pandering' on tax issues
by Ellen J. Silberman

Acting Gov. Jane M. Swift's honeymoon ended abruptly yesterday as Senate President Thomas F. Birmingham attacked her for simultaneously courting liberals and conservatives with tax cut "gimmickry."

Birmingham said he was baffled by her decision to push for an increase in the state's Earned Income Tax Credit -- a program long-advocated by liberal Democrats -- and sign a conservative-backed No New Tax pledge on the same day.

"I think it's pandering," Birmingham said of the tax pledge. "The combination might suggest being all things to all people."

The tone was a marked contrast to last week when lawmakers offered effusive praise as Swift took the reins of the state from Gov. Paul Cellucci.

Birmingham said he would consider including an increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit in the fiscal 2002 budget, but charged Swift with "gimmickry" for failing to outline how she would pay for the $43 million tax cut.

Swift said because the tax credit is phased in, it won't require program cuts in the fiscal 2002 budget that is in the works.

Swift's plan would increase the average tax credit from $228 to $379 per year. The Earned Income Tax Credit allows families earning less than $32,000 a year to get money back from the state even if they didn't pay taxes.

Swift defended the tax pledge. "I don't believe we should be increasing taxes of any kind on the working families of the commonwealth," she said.

The acting governor defended her vote as a state senator to raise cigarette taxes to pay for health care programs, but said that as governor she would veto a new cigarette tax plan under consideration in the Senate.

"No taxes will reach my desk without a sure veto," Swift said.

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