Citizens for Limited Taxation & Government
"The Commonwealth Activist Network"
18 Tremont Street #608 * Boston, MA 02108
Phone: (617) 248-0022 * E-Mail:
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*** CLT&G Update ***
Friday, August 1, 1997

CLT&G to file "A Promise to Keep" income tax rollback petition

Greetings activists!

We’re on schedule. On Monday we filed with the Office of Campaign & Political Finance our new ballot committee:

A Promise to Keep: 5%

The ballot committee’s e-mail address is:

We’ve just about completed the final draft of the CLT&G initiative that we’ll file it with the attorney general’s office no later than Wednesday.

"An Initiative Petition for a Law to Roll Back and Equalize the State Income Tax Rate to 5 percent by the year 2001" intends to:

Section 1:

Roll back the present 5.95 tax on Part B (wage & salary) income to 5.6 percent in tax year 1999;

Roll back the tax on Part B (wage & salary) income to 5.3 percent in tax year 2000;

Roll back and set the tax on Part B (wage & salary) income to 5 percent beginning in tax year 2001, and;

Section 2:

Beginning in tax year 1999, equalize the present 12 percent tax on Part A (so-called "unearned") income on interest and dividends to the same rate as the tax on Part B (wage & salary) income (see above).

As two of his first official acts, Governor Cellucci met with Barbara Anderson on Tuesday morning then filed a bill that would roll back the tax rate on Part B (wage & salary) income. It met with a lot of hems-and-haws from legislative leadership, though was not summarily declared dead on arrival. We hope our effort pressures the Legislature to act, as Gov. Cellucci commented, as his bill would take effect a year sooner than our initiative possibly can—but we’re not holding our collective breath.

Governor Bill Weld also filed similar bills over the years and they went nowhere. "We can’t afford it," was the knee-jerk response of the legislative leadership, and even though there’s now an *additional* $250 million in the just-released fiscal year 1998 updated revenue projections, they still don’t *want* to part with a cent of our money as long as they can hold onto it.

Of course, state Treasurer Joe Malone, also a Republican candidate for governor, came out early in support of our initiative and also will help in our petition signature drive, which will begin in mid-September.

NEW CLT&G POLICY: In the past, when other proposed initiatives with which we agreed were being circulated for signatures, CLT&G more often than not assisted. In 1995, this ad-hoc policy gradually grew out of hand—by the time we felt we wanted to say "no, we can’t" it was too late without abandoning the others to failure. This situation made our own effort almost unmanageable.

Not only were we reserving mall and supermarket locations for our payraise repeal initiative, but frequently we made accommodations for the others as well. In the end, it was our volunteer drivers who delivered the uncertified petitions to each of the 351 city and town clerks and, in many cases, made the pick-ups for these other efforts as well. We almost over-extended our own ability to succeed.

At the Monday night meeting of the CLT&G board of directors, this situation was discussed at length, then an actual policy was adopted in advance of the inevitable requests:

During this petition cycle, CLT&G will focus on only our tax rollback and equalization initiative and will be unable to divert its resources to any of the other efforts, regardless of their potential value.

Pulling this one off—especially without the advantage of talk-radio this time—will be more difficult than in the past; we’re all going to have to start that much earlier and work that much harder.

With Gov. Cellucci’s bill before the Legislature (which will be back in September from their long summer vacations), the earlier we start and the more visible we are around the state, the more likely it will become that the Legislature will pass the governor’s bill, rather than let us succeed and take the credit.

If the governor’s bill should somehow become law first, it will not affect our effort, as we’ve drafted our initiative to provide for an earlier rollback date if applicable.

Get ready folks—the countdown begins and we’re anxious to launch!

Chip Ford

PS. Remember House Speaker Tom Finneran’s lame attempt at revisionist history, claiming that the 1989 tax hike was never meant to be temporary and Barbara was crazy to think it was?

The CLT&G "Rapid Response Team" responded with a memo delivered to each of the 200 members of the Legislature and to the State House press corp—"The CLT&G ‘Temporary’ Bean Count Contest"—accompanied by a collage of 1989 newspaper clippings that reported the "temporary" income tax hike and challenged everyone to come up with the correct number of times the words "temporary" or "temporarily" was used. (The correct answer was 21.)

Sometimes the life of an activist can be so much fun, and the silliest strategies turn out to be the most effective. (Remember our proposal to rename M.C.I. Concord "The Charles F. Flaherty Correctional Institution," thus killing the bill to name a new bridge in Cambridge after the convicted felon and disgraced former-speaker of the House?)

That the 1989 tax hike was indeed intended to be temporary is now an accepted fact, a given, even by those who oppose us:

State House News Service
July 30, 1997


STATE HOUSE, JULY 30, 1997.....During his first day as acting governor, Paul Cellucci filed his first bill. Not surprisingly, it calls for a tax cut. . .

Cellucci wants the 5.95 percent income tax rate dropped back down to 5 percent, the rate prior to 1989. In that year, lawmakers hiked the tax to rescue the commonwealth from the brink of bankruptcy. At the time, they said the increase was temporary and that the rate would revert to 5 percent once the bonds needed to reduce a huge budget deficit were retired. Those bonds are about to be paid off.

Concerned that the Democrat-controlled Legislature might resist slashing the tax rate, Citizens for Limited Taxation and Government plans to launch an initiative petition drive to place the tax cut question before voters in 1998.

Cellucci said growing budget surpluses and the threat of the ballot question should persuade lawmakers to endorse the latest tax cut proposal.

"I’m going to help Barbara Anderson get signatures. I support it," he said of the campaign to place the tax-cutting question before voters.

[ . . . ]

"I wasn’t there in 1989, but it appears a promise was made," Birmingham said. "It was represented as temporary."

Cellucci earlier speculated that the likelihood of the CLT&G initiative reaching the ballot might serve as "a big club" over lawmakers.