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The Patriot Ledger
Saturday, May 23, 1998

Tax group withdraws Joyce endorsement
By Lauren Markoe
Patriot Ledger State House Bureau

BOSTON -- One of the state's leading anti-tax groups withdrew its endorsement of Sen. Brian Joyce, D-Milton, Friday for his vote against a tax-cutting measure supported by the group.

"We are embarrassed by our support of you, and sincerely regret the false impression we unwittingly gave the Suffolk and Norfolk voters about your commitment to the taxpayers," Citizens for Limited Taxation and Government wrote to Joyce this week.

Joyce on Tuesday voted for a $443 million annual tax cut endorsed by Senate President Thomas Birmingham, D-Chelsea, and against a plan, supported by Citizens for Limited Taxation and Government, that would have reduced the income tax rate from 5.95 to 5 percent.

Joyce, who won election to the House in 1996, touted the income tax rollback when he was campaigning for a special election for a Senate seat in January. He won and is now defending that seat.

In September's primary he will face Boston Democrat Maureen Feeney, whom he narrowly defeated in the special election primary.

Joyce represents voters in Milton, and parts of Randolph, Canton, Avon, and Boston.

Citizens for Limited Taxation and Government has vocally argued to lawmakers that the Legislature raised the income tax to 5.95 percent in 1989 with the promise that it would be rolled back to 5 percent in a healthier economy.

As a representative, Joyce sponsored the rollback bill. So his "flip-flop" is particularly galling, said the groups Executive Director, Chip Faulkner.

Joyce said the tax package he voted for this week is a better deal for his constituents than the income tax rollback.

"It's the biggest tax cut passed in the history of Massachusetts. The majority of people in my district will actually wind up paying less in taxes," said Joyce.

The Senate plane includes:

  • Doubling the earned income exemption from $2,200 to $4,400 for single filers and $4,400 to $8,800 for joint filers.

  • the elimination of the 12 percent tax on interest and dividend income for seniors with less than $30,000 in income a year.

  • The creation of a tax deduction for those paying student loans. The interest on those loans would be deductible.

It still must be reconciled with the $500 million House tax cut plan before it is sent to acting Gov. Paul Cellucci for his signature.

But Faulkner said if Joyce wanted to provide the biggest tax cut for his constituents, he should have continued to back the rollback, which would save taxpayers $1.2 billion during the next three years.

The rollback proposal failed by a wide margin in the Senate. It also failed to pass the House last month.

There was no reason Joyce could not have voted for both the Senate plan and the rollback, Faulkner said.

He added that he had never seen a politician run so strongly on an idea, and then so abruptly abandon it.

"I thought he meant it when he said he was for our tax cut. The fact is he was pushing this in December and less than five months later he is against it and for another plan," Faulkner said.

Joyce was the only Democrat in the Legislature to sign on to the citizens' group income tax rollback bill, which was nicknamed the "promise to keep" bill.

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