Tuesday, May 1, 2001

CLT celebrates "Third Way"* approach in House tax policy

The Massachusetts House began the new millennium with a refreshing approach to raising revenue.

During the first day of its budget debate, members voted overwhelmingly to add the concept of "contribution" to the traditional "tax-or-don't-tax" choices. They adopted a voluntary tax check-off for not only the income tax, but  "Community Preservation" as well.

The income tax check-off originated with two bills: the CLT bill filed in the Senate by Sen. JoAnn Sprague, and a similar bill filed by Rep. Fran Marini. Both allow taxpayers to choose the lower income tax rate approved by voters in November or a higher rate.

The Marini version yesterday passed the House as a budget amendment. It allows taxpayers to choose either the voter-approved rates (5.6% this year, 5.3% in 2002, and 5% thereafter) or the 5.85% rate that was in effect last year. The Department of Revenue will put the choices on tax forms as a check-off and track the amount contributed.

CLT congratulates Rep. Marini and the Massachusetts House of Representatives, and Rep. Vinnie deMacedo, who successfully proposed the concept for a local check-off to voluntarily pay for "Community Preservation."

Some thought we were merely "tweaking" our opponents of Question 4 -- one opponent even called the voluntary tax check-off "an obscene joke." But we are serious about our "new approach" to the perennial revenue and state spending increases demanded by some, giving them a check-off for their tax contribution.

It was reported that yesterday's vote "may be a national first." Massachusetts is often recognized as being on the cutting edge of many public policy issues. Our "Third Way" concept of voluntary contributions may well change the course of tax policy nationwide.

First, however, we must get the Marini and deMacedo amendments through the Senate.

* Democratic Leadership Council: "The Third Way philosophy seeks ... a new approach to governing that empowers citizens to act for themselves.... It favors an enabling rather than a bureaucratic government, expanding choices for citizens, using market means to achieve public ends and encouraging civic and community institutions to play a larger role in public life." State Sen. Richard Moore (D-Uxbridge) formerly was the DLC's state chairman.

Return to CLT Updates page

Return to CLT home page