Limited Taxation & Government
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CLT&G Update
Wednesday, December 2, 1998

The first Wednesday in December, the deadline for filing new proposed legislation for the next legislative year, has arrived.

Yesterday we delivered the following memo to all members of "The Great and General Court," our representatives and senators in the Legislature, informing them that the following bills were filed and are looking for co-sponsors to sign on to them.

We will advise you when public hearings on our bills are scheduled, likely in March.

Chip Ford --

To: Members of the General Court

December 1, 1998
Re: 1999 Legislation

CLT&G invites legislators to sign on to these bills:

In Senator Robert Hedlund's office

  • The income tax rate rollback, from present 5.95 percent to 5 percent: to keep the promise made by the Legislature when it increased the rate from 5 percent in 1989, that the increase would be temporary.

  • An Act amending the "new growth" provision in Proposition 2. Prop 2 allows a two-and-a-half percent increase in local property taxes each year, plus a factor for new growth, which is loosely defined as almost anything. This bill would define "new growth" as new construction that increases need for services and requires a building permit.

  • An Act requiring a public hearing for increase or decrease of the percentage of budgeted revenues allowed in the state stabilization fund. [Presently no public hearing is required before increasing the billion-dollar-plus "rainy day" fund ceiling that triggers the automatic tax refund.]

  • An Act to Return Tobacco Settlement Dollars to the Taxpayers with increases in the personal exemption. [The $7.6 billion state share over 25 years, and $325 million every year thereafter, settlement is otherwise about to be spent on "unmet needs"! For details, see below.]

In Senator Bruce Tarr's office

  • An Act to "Help Make Smoking History" by reimbursing former-smokers for the cost of Nicoderm patches and Nicorette gum, from tobacco excise tax revenues. [Almost $300 million a year in state tobacco excise taxes is collected in Massachusetts, allegedly to reduce the use of tobacco products -- but not one cent goes to smokers trying to quit!]

In Representative Ron Gauch's office

  • An act to tighten up the state "stabilization fund" to ensure that the rainy day revenues aren't used until it actually rains. [The billion-dollar-plus "rainy day" slush fund can now be used for virtually any purpose and at any time the Legislature wants to raid it.]

    AN ACT
    to Return Tobacco Settlement Dollars
    to the Taxpayers

    Whereas: Health-related and other costs due to tobacco-related illnesses, legal tort actions, and other tobacco-related expenses, were paid with money expropriated from the taxpayers of the Commonwealth; the funds windfall that results from Massachusetts' share of the nationwide tobacco settlement shall be returned to the taxpayers of the Commonwealth as compensatory reimbursement and restitution.

    Be it enacted by the House and Senate in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:

    Section One. All funds received by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts from the tobacco settlement shall be appropriated into the Commonwealth Tax Reduction Fund and used to increase the personal exemption.

    Section Two. This act will take effect for, and the increase in the personal exemption applied to, Tax Year 1999 and all years thereafter.

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