Limited Taxation
Post Office Box 408     Peabody, Massachusetts   01960     (508) 384-0100
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CLT Update
Thursday, January 14, 1999

CLT's Response to Finneran's "State of the State" Message:
Barbara's State of the Speaker Message

Quoting House Speaker Tom Finneran from his pompous "state of the state" speech, the following is CLT's response, issued to the media yesterday.

And note (in the Boston Globe report that follows) that here they go again -- proposing to spend even more of our hard-earned money. "Fiscal conservative" Finneran proposes to pay off the teachers union for the wonderful job it's doing -- while setting up taxpayers with another program that will need funding in the next economic downturn.

But then they can always pass another "temporary" tax hike just to get us through that "crisis"!

Chip Ford --

Citizens for Limited Taxation
PO Box 408    Peabody, MA 01960
Phone: (508) 384-0100    E-Mail:


For Further Information

For Immediate Release

Contact: Barbara Anderson

Wednesday, January 13, 1999

Chip Ford

Finneran Saves World for Democracy Speech

"History's pen is writing." It is writing questions.

Does a "two-year budget" mean only one legislative feeding frenzy every two years?

Will "another year" in the presently-structured public school system mean that it will take thirteen years instead of twelve not to teach children to read? If our taxes weren't so high, maybe one parent could stay home for at least five years and read to his/her child.

Would "the great men of Massachusetts' early history" turn over in their graves to see the size and scope of our state budget?

The state budget that those great men created reached 10 billion dollars in 1987. This year it will reach 20 billion dollars. Still it's apparently not enough to deal with education and the environment. Will Speaker Finneran's "legacy" be a state budget that doubles again in the next twelve years?

I saw Saving Private Ryan too. We are asked, are we worthy of their sacrifice? I thought this meant a commitment to freedom, individual responsibility, and honor. Speaker Finneran apparently thinks they sacrificed for higher taxes, bigger government, wildly increasing state budgets, broken legislative promises, and children who leave home for government schools at the earliest time in our history because their parents no longer have time to care for them properly themselves. We'll be worthy of their sacrifice when government ceases to be such a threat to our incomes and well-being.

A true generational legacy would be a Commonwealth that inspires trust because it keeps its word to taxpayers on temporary taxes and tolls, that controls spending, that encourages parental responsibility and choice in education, that leaves those parents with enough of their own money to spend on their own kids. Then the state could focus on the dysfunctional families and as much as possible, leave the rest of us alone.

The Boston Globe
Metro | Region
Thursday, January 14, 1999

Finneran offers plan on education
Targets preschool and kindergarten

By Tina Cassidy
Globe Staff

Labeling his proposal Round II of education reform, House Speaker Thomas M. Finneran yesterday called for mandatory full-day kindergarten and preschool for every city and town in Massachusetts.

In making his third annual State of the State speech on Beacon Hill, the Mattapan Democrat said the program would have to be phased in because of its enormity and would begin in communities that scored lowest on the recently administered Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System test, particularly urban areas.

Finneran said preliminary estimates put the price tag at about $100 million annually, not including the construction of more schools to make room for the toddlers, but Governor Paul Cellucci predicted the proposal would be vastly more costly and was skeptical of its financial feasibility.

"Until we've finished fully funding the 1993 law [on education reform] I don't want to commit ourselves to spending a lot more money," Cellucci said.

To pay for the plan, Finneran said the state would have to squeeze money from other parts of the budget. But he also said government must change the way it does business, to save on its bottom line.

"The cost of such a proposal is going to be substantial and will be a challenge to meet," the speaker said in his 45-minute speech in the House chamber. "Even its most ardent proponents ... will ask how can we afford it? How can we commit to such a bold and dramatic initiative?"

Finneran said one nuts-and-bolts reform would be to switch to a two-year budget instead of an annual appropriations bill as a means of imposing fiscal discipline on the Legislature.

"A two-year budget requires very careful planning," Finneran said to a surprised House. "It will help us think in a generational manner."

Michael Widmer, executive director of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, a fiscal watchdog group, said a two-year budget has merit, including a time-saving component that would allow lawmakers to take up other issues.

"With the annual budget process, agencies tend to be funded at last year's level plus a certain percentage increase," Widmer said. "When you're looking out over two years you are likely to budget more conservatively because you have even more uncertain revenue estimates and in that environment you're likely to have a more focused discussion on where you want to put the additional money."

Cellucci said he liked the idea but would leave it to lawyers to determine whether it would require a change to the state's constitution, which would be a four-year process and require voter approval.

Finneran - the only speaker to make an annual State of the State Address - outlined his agenda in a speech during which he repeatedly praised the House for its work and focused on "generational" ideas, including a land preservation bank similar to the one endorsed last year for Cape Cod.

The Massachusetts Teachers Association applauded Finneran's comments on education, especially his calls for more parental involvement in their children's schooling.

"Parental concern cannot be legislated," MTA president Stephen E. Gorrie said. "But the state and local governments can do more to foster parental involvement."

Gorrie also said full-day kindergarten, available in about 80 school districts with another couple of dozen considering it, is in great demand. Only half-day kindergarten is mandatory now.

But there are worries that preschool could be perceived as a replacement for costly private day care.

"That's the danger," conceded interim state education commissioner David Driscoll. "There is a day care element, but the focus should be on education."

Not everyone praised Finneran yesterday.

"A true generational legacy would be a Commonwealth that inspires trust because it keeps its word to taxpayers ... [and leaves] parents with enough of their own money to spend on their own kids," said Barbara Anderson of Citizens for Limited Taxation.

Finneran has irritated a growing list of lawmakers for his tightening control of the House. Last year, he was able to kill several key measures Senate President Thomas F. Birmingham pushed.

The governor, Birmingham and Senate Minority Leader Brian Lees ignored the speaker's invitation to attend the speech.

The House rank-and-file members also appear to be growing weary of Finneran's dominating style.

A group of representatives met privately yesterday for about an hour at the State House, apparently to examine legislative rules that could allow them to weaken Finneran's power. However, few legislators would confirm that the meeting took place.

"We have allowed things to happen that probably ought not," said Representative James Marzilli (D-Arlington), who attended the meeting. Marzilli said that he voted for Finneran as speaker but said "that doesn't mean I want him to make all the decisions."

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