Limited Taxation & Government
18 Tremont Street #608    Boston, Massachusetts   02108     (617) 248-0022

CLT&G Update
Sunday, May 17, 1998

More Analysis

Greetings activists and supporters;

A couple of new columns have come across my desk recently that accurately contribute to the aftermath of our failed petition drive, pretty much sum it all up, and which I want to share with you.

Chip Ford --

The (Attleboro) Sun Chronicle
Sunday, May 10, 1998

Public's apathy takes a toll on anti-tax movement
By Ned Bristol

Remember last October there were people standing outside the post office with petitions to sign to bring state taxes back into line?

It was raining and you were in the midst of your Saturday-morning errands. You would have been happy to sign the petition but you were in a hurry. Heck, they'll have plenty of signatures, you thought.


The petition drive came up short and the tax rollback won't be on the ballot in November. That was the news this past week, after the state teachers' union prevailed over Citizens for Limited Taxation and Government in a court fight over the ballot question.

The result is the Legislature now has the upper hand in the tax cut debate, and there'll be nothing like the $1.2 billion tax cut that CLT&G and Gov. Paul Cellucci proposed.

The all-powerful leaders of the House and Senate have in mind a $500 million tax cut, even though the state surplus and soaring revenues justify letting taxpayers keep much more of their hard-earned money.

The "temporary" tax hikes enacted during the state's fiscal crisis are starting to look permanent.

So what are CLT&G and its colorful leader, Barbara Anderson, going to do about it?

Nothing. At least not until voters show more concern over taxes and holding the Legislature to its promises.

CLT&G isn't going to appeal last Monday's court ruling and it isn't going to launch another petition drive.

Anderson says she won't ask her volunteers to sacrifice hours and hours collecting signatures when too many voters won't take two minutes to stop and sign a petition.

"This apathy is the enemy and always has been," she says.

Anderson envisions a more passive role for CLT&G. The group will try to keep the public informed and "wait and see" what happens politically, she says. A lot will be determined by this year's elections, with the possibility of voters putting a Democrat in the governor's office and re-electing a Democratically controlled Legislature.

Anderson sees the potential for a reprise of the Dukakis era of the 1980s, with "a few more pay raises" for legislators, "another tax increase" and even an "assault on Proposition 2 1/2," CLT&G's 1980 ballot question that capped property taxes.

These things are cyclical, Anderson says. If the economy turns down and taxes go up, voters will be galvanized into action once again.

And voters better hope CLT&G will still be there. Right now Barbara Anderson is feeling discouraged.

When volunteers asked voters to sign petitions last fall, "people couldn't be bothered," she says. "It they don't care, I don't care."

NED BRISTOL is editor of the Sun Chronicle

The (Worcester) Telegram & Gazette
Thursday, May 7, 1998

In Our Opinion (editorial)
Taxpayers lose; No tax rollback to appear on fall ballot

It's a shame that Massachusetts taxpayers will be denied an opportunity to vote on a long overdue tax rollback this fall.

They suffered a major setback this week when a judge ruled that Citizens for Limited Taxation and Government had failed, narrowly, to garner the 64,928 validated signatures required to get the issue on the November ballot.

The question would have asked voters whether the state should cut the income tax rate from the current 5.95 percent to 5 percent.

The 5 percent rate prevailed until the late 1980s when incremental increases were tacked on to control the damage caused by fiscal mismanagement during the Dukakis years.

Had the matter appeared on the ballot, it would have passed easily, giving proponents of the rollback a powerful tool to leverage a reluctant Legislature.

Now the extent of any tax cut will depend on the leadership of the House and Senate. Whatever the result, it will not be a reduction to 5 percent.

It is unfortunate CLT&G -- which has had many reform successes -- failed to secure enough signatures to offset the challenge by opponents. After a prolonged dispute over validation, the movement fell short by 26 signatures.

The legal challenge to the ballot initiative was organized and heavily funded by the Massachusetts Teachers Association and the Tax Equity Alliance of Massachusetts, a lobby for public employee unions.

Apparently, those two organizations feel no sympathy for millions of taxpayers who deserve a break now that the state's coffers are full.

Gloating over "victory," TEAM Executive Director Jim St. George said the proposed tax cut "would have devastated the services that families across the commonwealth rely on every day."

Such a monumental distortion is to be expected from an organization that has supported every major tax increase stuffed down the throats of Bay State taxpayers over the years.

The MTA's stance against the petition is even more irksome, given the billions of dollars pouring into education reform across the state.

Money for education accounts for 56 percent of Worcester's municipal budget next year -- compared to 27 percent for police, fire and public works combined.

How much more does the teachers union expect?

Tax relief is possible in this legislative session. But it will not be nearly as meaningful as the rollback proposed by the initiative.

The people of Massachusetts are being deprived of an overdue tax break because of the opposition of two well-heeled special interest groups.

That betrayal is something to remember.