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CLT&G Update
Friday, June 5, 1998

Greetings activists and supporters:

A poll released today by The Boston Herald shows that, even among likely Democratic primary voters, only 30 percent believe "the Legislature is serious about cutting taxes." 41 percent don't believe the Legislature is -- and the "I. Mallsetters" with no opinion or a clue whatsoever come in at 29 percent.

And now we even have formerly high-ranking Dukakoids calling on the Legislature to "keep the promise" and roll back the income tax rate to 5 percent, where it was in 1989 before being raised "temporarily"!

Isn't it interesting that along with their call, they tie any rollback to "triggers"? When was the last time a tax increase was tied to any sort of "economic trigger" -- like if times get tough, the economy takes a downturn, and people's income or the standard of living of working families takes a hit, the tax burden will automatically be lowered?

What happened to that "trigger" on the EXCESS revenue that was promised would be returned to taxpayers in the form of an increased personal exemption, once a certain and specific amount had been stashed away in the "rainy day" stabilization fund? They just keep increasing the pull on the "trigger," raising the ceiling a bit higher out of reach.

At last it seems that the only people on the face of Planet Earth who still maintain no promise was ever made, and when it was they can't be bound by previous legislatures anyway, are those Beacon Hill Cabal parasites, who are not going to part with our money until we pry it out of their greedy fists.

Chip Ford --

The Boston Herald
Friday, June 5, 1998


Let's go back to 5 percent

It's good to see a bipartisan group of former high-ranking state officials endorse reduction of the Massachusetts state income tax rate to 5 percent as a "matter of fairness."

At least this group from the administrations of Gov. Michael Dukakis and William Weld, assembled by the MassINC think-tank, recognizes that the increase to 5.95 percent nearly a decade ago was supposed to be temporary. Many Democratic leaders on Beacon Hill haven't managed such honesty even as they bandy various tax cuts about.

But it's disappointing to read that the MassINC group believes an income tax reduction "should be linked" in some unspecified way, perhaps by some "trigger" (which could be spending reductions) in the economic data, to the state's fiscal condition.

Of course taxes should not be cut blindly. But specifying an automatic link fails to recognize that pressures to spend are eternally growing. The spenders can always find ways to make the state's condition look just shaky enough to cancel or postpone the next income tax cut no matter what the status of the trigger, or to argue that the wrong trigger was chosen, or even to manipulate the trigger itself (easy enough to do if the trigger is spending).

No matter what tax cut is enacted this year, we'll continue to support a 5 percent rate. Acting Gov. Paul Cellucci had the right idea: Slash the rate to 5 percent over three years to take the money off the table. The spenders could still argue for spending, but it would be an uphill argument against the taxpayers' expectations of promised lower rates.

The Boston Globe
Thursday, June 4, 1998

Lowering income tax to 5% urged
But ex-state officials say cut should be linked to economy

By Tina Cassidy
Globe Staff

A reduction in the state's personal income tax should be tied to an economic "trigger point," a nonpartisan think tank said yesterday.

In a report released by MassInc, five former Cabinet secretaries under the starkly different Dukakis and Weld administrations agreed that the income tax should be lowered to 5 percent from 5.95 percent - but linked to the condition of the economy.

"What's interesting and different about this document is they endorse a broadly conservative approach to state fiscal policy," said Tripp Jones, executive director of MassInc. "These folks have been through good times, and they've been through bad times. They have a lot of experience. It's so important for people to be careful at this point in an economic cycle."

The report's working group included Joseph D. Alviani and Frank T. Keefe, who worked under former Governor Michael Dukakis, serving, respectively, as secretary of economic affairs and secretary of administration and finance; Alden S. Raine, secretary of economic affairs during the last three years of Dukakis's term; Gloria Larson - now chairwoman of MassInc - who was secretary of economic affairs and secretary of consumer affairs and business regulation under Governor William Weld; and Mark Robinson, Weld's secretary of administration and finance for a year.

The group did not recommend specific trigger points for increasing or decreasing the level of the tax.

"That would be a decision that folks in the Legislature as well as the administration would need to make. We're not being presumptuous enough to declare this is specifically how you've got to do this," Jones said.

However, Barbara Anderson of Citizens for Limited Taxation and Government - which failed to collect enough signatures to place a tax rollback on the November ballot - said the rate should be lowered to 5 percent unconditionally.

"When the tax increase passed [in 1989] they promised it would be temporary. It is now 1998, the crisis has been over for seven years, we've been running a state surplus for three years, and the state surplus this year is $1 billion," Anderson said. "They should cut the tax when times are good and then we'll all have a discussion again when times get bad. If they cut taxes enough maybe times won't get bad."

The tax study is a timely one for Beacon Hill. With a billion-dollar surplus, Acting Governor Paul Cellucci is arguing for a rollback to 5 percent. In addition, Cellucci last week said he would seek a larger personal income tax deduction, which would save a single filer an average of $98 a year.

The Senate would rather offer a break by doubling the personal income tax deduction. The House passed a reduction lowering the income tax rate to 5.7 percent.

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