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 ***
Tuesday, May 5, 1998

Greetings activists and supporters:

TEAM’s news release of yesterday closed with:

"The framers of the state constitution kept the required number of signatures high enough so that only proposals with broad public support could make it onto the ballot. This initiative did not have broad support," St. George continued. "It is another piece of evidence that voters in Massachusetts care about the services they use. They are not willing to sign a petition for an irresponsible tax cut when there are so many unmet needs in the Commonwealth."

I saw no indication of that being a reason for people not signing our petition, and the latest polls showed that if we got it to the ballot we’d have won by a strong 82 percent. If St. George and his ilk really believed that, then why did the Massachusetts Teachers Association spend a million bucks of its members’ dues to kill this before it could be born?

So today we begin with reactions from "the man on the street" to the defeat of our tax cut ballot question (in the court’s final decision, by a mere * 26 * signatures!), as reported in today’s Boston Globe . . . because there still might be hope for the future, thanks to Stephen Mitchell of Dorchester!

The Boston Globe
Tuesday, May 5, 1998
Metro | Region
Ruling disappoints taxpayers
By Patrick J. Calnan
Globe Correspondent

A judge’s decision to keep off the November ballot a plan that could have poured $1.2 billion into taxpayers’ pockets was greeted with disappointment on Boston streets yesterday.

"It’s terrible," said Angela Pierre 49, a machine operator from Dorchester. "You should be able to make the decision. I can’t say I feel angry, but not good."

Judge Allan van Gestel ruled that the bid for a ballot question didn’t have enough valid signatures.

"I don’t like it," said Pat Clooney, 43, a nurse and mother.

"If we’re paying the taxes, we should be able to control how much we pay. It makes me want to move to someplace like New Hampshire that doesn’t have high taxes."

Vincent Grzesik, a store owner from Burlington, said he has lost faith in legislators. "Every time they have a tax increase and they said it’s short-term or whatever, you never see it go back down again," he said.

Stephen Mitchell, a mutual fund portfolio administrator who lives in Dorchester, said he hoped yesterday’s decision would not be the end of the matter.

"I wish we had known about it," he said. "The question now is, is it too late for it to be on the ballot, and can we have another signature drive?"

Yes, Stephen, it’s "too late for it to be on the ballot."

But there’s nothing that prevents you from launching another petition drive whenever you and so many others who just didn’t "have the time" to stop and sign ours last fall decide to organize one. You know, Stephen, you folks who sat out this one!

You and Angela—who isn’t mad but doesn’t feel good about it—and Nurse Clooney, who’s ready to pack it up and move to New Hampshire, and Mr. Grzesik, can all get together in 1998 and file our petition all over again, and go out and collect the signatures this time. The nice part about it is, you can make it effective with no phase-in period, like ours had, immediately upon voter approval—and it could still be fully in place, back down to 5 percent in 2001, just like ours would have been.

Let me know if you decide to take up the crusade, Mr. Mitchell. I’ll be "behind you all the way" like so many were for us. And Mr. Mitchell, I’ll even make the time in my suddenly far, far less demanding life to stop and sign your petition! Because, Mr. Mitchell, unlike so many potential signers that our volunteers approached, I am not "all set" and I will take the time to sign my name for a tax cut.

Chip Ford –

The Boston Globe
Tuesday, May 5, 1998

Tax-cut question will go unasked
Petition loses challenge, won’t make ballot
By Frank Phillips
Globe Staff

In a crushing blow to the state’s once powerful grass-roots anti-tax movement, a plan to cut income taxes by $1.2 billion next year was blocked yesterday from appearing on the November ballot.

Suffolk Superior Court Judge Allan van Gestel ruled that tax cut leader Barbara Anderson and her organization did not gather enough certified voter signatures to place the question on this year’s ballot. He found that even if he ruled in favor of the tax-cut proponents on each of the 6,000 disputed signatures, the petition still would be 26 shy of the constitutionally required 64,928.

The proposal would have asked voters if the state should cut its income tax rate from 5.95 percent to 5 percent.

Anderson, who for nearly two decades successfully forced tax cuts, tax caps, and legislative pay-raise repeals on Beacon Hill, said she doubts her group will appeal the judge’s ruling.

"We don’t have the resources to match the power of the Massachusetts Teachers Association at every step of the process," Anderson said, referring to the union’s well-financed effort to block the petition from reaching the ballot.

But opponents of the tax rollback said the decision allows the state legislators to consider more modest tax cuts without the political pressures of a public petition campaign.

"This means that the $1.2 billion tax cut is dead and that whatever tax break we will see will come through the normal legislative process," said Jim St. George, the executive director of Tax Equity Alliance for Massachusetts, a liberal, union-funded group that coordinated the challenge to the petition’s signatures.

With the petition off the ballot, the dynamics of the tax debate on Beacon Hill and in the gubernatorial races shift heavily in favor of the Democrats’ more moderate tax-reduction plans.

The court ruling is not only a serious blow to Anderson and her group, Citizens for Limited Taxation and Government, but it also undermines Acting Governor Paul Cellucci as he tries to push a similar tax cut plan in the Legislature.

If the petition had made it to the ballot, where voter approval would have been almost certain, Cellucci would have had leverage to force the Democrat-controlled Legislature to approve the rollback.

Anderson lashed out at the teachers’ union for financing and organizing the challenge to the petition signatures, charging that the union spent nearly $1 million of its member dues to "crush . . . democracy."

Anderson said she wants to confer with her supporters and lawyers before making a final decision on whether to appeal, but said she is inclined to drop the case. Anderson said she does not want to drain her group’s resources on a case she said it would probably lose.

In January, the teachers’ union and the tax-equity group took their challenge to the state’s ballot law commission, which after a week of hearings threw out hundreds of signatures, leaving the petition 355 short. Anderson then took her case to the courts.

Cellucci acknowledged yesterday that he has lost some clout in forcing the Legislature to roll back the income tax to 5 percent, but said he would continue to raise the heat on the Democrats to accept the plan, which he said would save an average family of four about $600 a year.

"This is a battle that is not going to go away," Cellucci said. "It doesn’t change any of the reasons why we should do it. The people in the Legislature should be listening to their constituents."

Cellucci reiterated the tax cutters’ arguments that the tax was raised to pay for late 1980s budget deficits and that promises were made then that the hike would be temporary.

"I have news for the Democratic Legislature. The fiscal crisis is over. Keep your promise," Cellucci said.
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"The only alternative to limited taxation and government is unlimited taxation and government"