Limited Taxation & Government
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CLT&G Update
Friday, December 4, 1998

The revenues keep pouring in, the surplus keeps growing, the "rainy day" slush fund keeps mounting, and the "temporary tax" Promise continues to be broken.

One result of low voter turnout in the November election is that signature requirements for initiative petitions have been dramatically reduced.

According to the state constitution, the total number of signatures required is a factor of the total vote in the last election for governor.

Before November's election, the required number was 64,928 certified signatures Massachusetts registered voters, based on the total vote for governor in 1994.

The new requirement, since November's election, is 56,915 -- 8,013 fewer signatures than last year.

We needed to submit 64,928 certified signatures on our Promise to Keep: 5% petition last December and, after months of challenges by the Massachusetts teachers union, we fell 26 signatures short.

Under the new requirement, we easily would have made it with almost 8,000 signatures to spare!

Something to think about . . .

Chip Ford --

The Boston Globe
Thursday, December 3, 1998

Tax Revenue up nearly 11% as economy rolls along
By Hilary Sargent
Globe Correspondent

Defying economists' predictions in the spring that the state's booming economy would slow down this fall, Massachusetts continues to bring in a bonanza of tax revenue, with collections running nearly 11 percent ahead of levels at this time last year.

In contrast, by November 1997 tax revenues had increased about 4 percent over the previous year. By the end of the fiscal year, or June 30, the state had a record $1 billion budget surplus.

November tax revenues, just released, jumped roughly 12 percent over the same period last year.

If the torrid pace continues, the state will enjoy another huge budget surplus that will likely set off another round of disputes over tax cuts and spending plans.

A large surplus would also bolster Governor Paul Cellucci's call to reduce the state's income tax rate to 5 percent, a cut that would trim revenue intake by more than $1 billion. Democratic legislative leaders have resisted such a cut, in part because they say the immediate future of the state's economy is unclear.

In the month of November, the state collected $972 million, compared to $866.8 million during the same month a year ago, according to Acting Revenue Commissioner Bernard F. Crowley, Jr. The revenue collected thus far in the fiscal year totals $5.43 billion, up $522.9 million, or nearly 11 percent.

"All major tax categories continue to show steady growth, with the past month's revenue bolstered by strong sales tax collections, which is good news as we begin the holiday season," Crowley said.

During November, sales tax collections were up about 19 percent from the same month last year, totaling almost $250 million.

The business excise tax levied on banks, insurance companies, and public utilities has shown remarkable growth, rising almost 47 percent between Jule 1 and November 30, compared to the same period in 1997.

Comparing the five-month period, net income taxes are up about 10 percent, sales taxes nearly 7 percent and corporate taxes almost 12 percent.

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