Limited Taxation
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CLT Update
Tuesday, June 29, 1999

Maybe it's not just Barbara and me after all.

It seems there are at least a few others out here who also are astounded at the arrogance and greed of the Beacon Hill political elite and the Gimme Groups. Maybe there are even enough of us sufficiently angry to actually take back some of our hard-earned money the pols have selfishly confiscated with their gross over-taxation and shameless broken promises.

Maybe. But first we must stop them from stealing even more from us.

Yesterday, CLT immediately issued a news release, "Taxation Committee, MTF, Propose Illegal Fees." It went out by fax to the major state media.

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Chip Ford

Telegram & Gazette
Worcester, MA
Monday, June 28, 1999

Roll it back
Income tax relief should be in budget

A Telegram & Gazette editorial

Unacknowledged in the House-Senate budget conferences last week -- but a looming presence nonetheless -- is the rising threat of a contentious plebiscite on rolling back the state income tax.

With coffers overflowing, the economy booming and government growth outstripping inflation three-fold, Beacon Hill continues to resist rolling back the temporary 5.95 percent rate. The debt incurred in the collapse of the Massachusetts "miracle" has long since been retired.

Lawmakers' excuses for maintaining the emergency tax rate have long since worn thin.

People are fully justified in asking: If not now, when?

The House budget does include a modest reduction to 5.75 percent. The Senate, adamant on income taxes, offers a smattering of small "targeted" tax cuts instead.

Taxpayers who are unsatisfied with sops will have a chance to express their discontent.

Gov. Paul Cellucci, who pledged to fight for a rollback to the pre-1989 rate of 5 percent, has filed a bill to do that in three stages spread over the years 2000, 2001 and 2002. The cuts would total $1.4 billion when fully in force and amount to an average $600 annual reduction for a family of four.

As the Legislature reconciles its budget proposals, Cellucci has reiterated that if lawmakers fail to act, he will take the issue to voters in a ballot referendum in the fall of 2000.

A total of 66,617 [*see correction below] signatures would be needed to force the ballot question. Cellucci has promised he and his political network would be involved aggressively in the process.

That support virtually assures the success of the signature drive. Once on the ballot, voters certainly will approve a tax cut.

Senate President Thomas F. Birmingham -- who continues to oppose any rollback -- told members of the Telegram & Gazette editorial board last week that he was not about to "draw a line in the sand" on the issue.

Whether that signals flexibility on the tax issue remains to be seen.

What does seem clear is that if the Legislature fails to act on a rollback plan of its own, the people will do the job next year.

* CORRECTION: In the last election of governor, the total number of votes cast -- upon which the signature requirement is then based -- changed. The number of signatures currently required for an initiative petition has dropped from 64,928 to 57,100.

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