Limited Taxation
Post Office Box 408     Peabody, Massachusetts   01960     (508) 384-0100
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CLT Update
Wednesday, August 4, 1999

Yesterday, along with Governor Paul Cellucci, Lt. Governor Jane Swift and a pack of reporters and TV camera crews, we filed our initiative petition with the Attorney General's office to "Keep The Promise" and roll back the "temporary" income tax rate from 5.95 percent to its historic, pre-1989 fiscal crisis rate of 5 percent.

If you are a CLT member, you should have received our mailing in the past few days, or will receive it today or tomorrow. Please read it, and respond immediately.

If you are not a CLT member you can still read the letter.

We need to start recruiting volunteer petitioners immediately for the mid-September petition drive launching.

We were kept off the 1998 ballot by the lack of a mere 26 signatures after being challenged by the teachers union. Then, we heard all the recriminations from everyone who "could have done a little," or done "a little bit more."

Please don't let that happen to us again! Now is the time to make up your mind not to, to make a commitment that it won't!

If you want to be a part of keeping the promise and rolling back your own income tax rate, helping us this time to get more than enough signatures, please respond by signing up (ONLY IF you are NOT already a CLT member who has or will receive the current mailed questionnaire).

We can't save you hundreds of your hard-earned dollars every year if you will not help us help you!

There simply is no other way.

Thanks much!

CFord-Sig2.gif (4854 bytes)

Chip Ford

PS. I thought you'd enjoy the insight of TEAM's ludicrous news release (third below) already opposing us, despite its assertion that the people will vote to defeat our initiative and keep the promise broken!

August 3, 1999

Contact: ROB GRAY, (617) 728-3535


Cellucci, Swift, Anderson Lead Citizens' Group
Aiming to Cut Income Tax from 5.95% to 5%

A citizens' group today filed language with the Attorney General that paves the way for an initiative petition to cut the state income tax to 5 percent to be on the ballot in November of 2000. The group of ten citizens is led by Governor Paul Cellucci, Lt. Governor Jane Swift, and Citizens for Limited Taxation and Government Executive Director Barbara Anderson.

"The Legislature has refused to keep its promise to roll the income tax back to 5 percent so we are going over their heads and taking this directly to the voters," said Cellucci. "The Legislature promised that this would be a temporary tax increase and then they fell in love with the extra revenue. The citizens of Massachusetts will now have an opportunity to send a message to the Legislature and get the 16 percent tax cut that is due to them."

The initiative petition would roll back the state income tax to 5 percent in three steps. The rate would drop to 5.6 percent in 2001, 5.3 percent in 2002, and 5.0 percent in 2003. Once the petition is approved by the Attorney General and submitted to the Secretary of State, the group must collect 57,100 certified signatures by late November and then an additional 9,500 signatures by the end of June of 2000.

Swift said she is confident that the group will get more than enough signatures. "People I talk to around the state want an income tax cut and are eager to sign this petition and then vote for it next year. Our field supporters, working with our friends at Citizens for Limited Taxation, will gather more than enough signatures to put us over the top."

Said Anderson, "We are eager to make the Legislature keep its promise to Massachusetts taxpayers, and with the Cellucci team I'm sure we will succeed."

State House News Service
August 3, 1999

Cellucci Files Tax Cut Petition,
Predicts Overwhelming Approval

AUGUST 3, 1999 ... EJB ... Gov. Paul Cellucci's proposal to cut the income tax rate took its first step toward the 2000 election ballot, with proponents claiming it would be good for the economy and opponents arguing it would mean cuts in education and health care.

With anti-tax activist Barbara Anderson in tow, Cellucci and Lt. Gov. Jane Swift marched into Attorney General Thomas Reilly's office this morning and filed their proposed ballot question.

If approved, the petition would lower the 5.95 percent income tax rate to 5 percent. Once fully implemented over three years, the cut would take $1.4 billion out of the state's coffers and send it back to taxpayers. The annual savings for a family of four are estimated at about $600.

Speaking to reporters after submitting the language and the signatures of 16 original signers, Cellucci reiterated his long-standing argument that such a cut would keep the state competitive and give families more money for "hockey equipment ... and summer camp."

The governor prevailed on lawmakers to keep a temporary tax hike promise they allegedly made in 1989. He rejected Democrats' arguments that such a large tax cut would drain away funds from important public services, noting state tax receipts have risen despite numerous tax cuts.

"There's a thousand and one reasons why you can't cut taxes. I reject every one of them," Cellucci said. "The fiscal crisis is long over. Let's keep that promise. I believe the citizens of Massachusetts will approve this overwhelmingly."

But the road to the ballot is not quick or free of obstacles. Reilly must first decide whether the proposed language is constitutional, then submit it to Secretary of State William Galvin by Sept. 1 for the printing of the actual petitions. Activists have until mid-November to gather 57,100 signatures of registered voters.

James St. George, executive director of the Tax Equity Alliance of Massachusetts, said TEAM and other groups will fight the tax cut all the way to Election Day. Last year, TEAM and the teachers unions defeated an identical initiative petition by challenging the validity of enough signatures to get the question tossed off the ballot.

The group plans to pursue a different strategy this year, because with the governor's organization actively involved, St. George said he "has no doubt" that activists will gather enough signatures to withstand any challenge.

"We're going to work with a bunch of people to explain to voters the choice that they're making," St. George said. "It's not just free money, but the choice between a tax cut that goes largely to high-income people, or better schools and better education."

In the context of the $20.8 billion state budget, the proposed cut is 20 percent bigger than the $800 billion federal tax cut just approved by Congress, St. George said. "Part of what we're going to emphasize is that this proposal is more extreme, more radical, than the fondest wishes, the dream of the congressional Republicans," he said.

Citizens for Limited Taxation Executive Director Barbara Anderson said activists expect to have no trouble reaching the signature threshold. They need 10,000 fewer signatures this time than last time. Anderson said the CLT-Cellucci alliance should be able to get the signatures easily.

Also, there should be more activists available this year. Last time around, petitions on campaign finance and term limits drew signature gatherers away from the tax cut petition, Anderson said.

But a recent Supreme Judicial Court ruling could cause trouble, she said. The high court upheld a "bright line" ruling last month that forbids markings of any sort - highlighting, addresses, pen doodles - on petition sheets. Anderson said she fears that saboteurs, in the guise of interested citizens, might try to mark up their sheets.

To guard against that possibility, Anderson said activists would aim to gather 100,000 raw signatures, almost twice as many as they need. She also noted it's a felony to interfere with the initiative petition process.

"We are prepared to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law anybody caught mutilating our petitions or deliberately making a mark on them," Anderson said.

August 3, 1999

The Tax Equity Alliance for Massachusetts
TEAM Education Fund

Contact: Jim St. George, (617) 426-1228 ext. 102


MA tax cut would be 21 percent bigger than federal tax cut

In a report released today, the TEAM Education Fund compared the tax cut proposal offered by Gov. Cellucci and Citizens for Limited Taxation to the $792 billion tax cuts passed by the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. The Education Fund's analysis found that the Cellucci-CLT proposal was 21 percent larger than the tax cut pushed by Republican congressional leaders, when compared to anticipated federal and state spending over the next 10 years. The Cellucci-CLT tax cut is 90 percent larger than a "compromise" tax proposal suggested in the Senate, a proposal that President Clinton still promised to veto because of its excessive size.

"Newspapers across the country and economists of varying ideological stripes agree with President Clinton, Senator Kennedy, the entire Massachusetts congressional delegation, and even some Republicans that a permanent $792 billion tax cut proposal is unaffordable. Yet Gov. Cellucci is proposing a tax cut that is more extreme than the wildest dreams of congressional Republican leaders," said James R. St. George, the Education Fund's executive director.

When measured in the same way as the federal tax cut, the Cellucci-CLT proposal will cost the state some $13.3 billion over the next 10 years. And while both the U.S. House and Senate enacted safety mechanisms to limit the potential damage a $792 billion tax cut would cause, there are no such mechanisms in the Cellucci-CLT proposal.

"Gov. Cellucci is attempting to manufacture a fiscal crisis in Massachusetts," said St. George. "Just as state legislators know that targeted, affordable tax cuts are preferable to this extreme proposal, voters will reject Cellucci's radical tax cut in favor of improvements in education, public safety, and local aid."

The Education Fund's report used Congressional Budget Office estimates of likely federal spending over 10 years (assuming that discretionary spending rises with inflation over the next three years) and projected state spending over the same time period using the rate of spending growth during the Weld-Cellucci administrations. The 10-year cost of the Cellucci tax cut proposal was based on state Department of Revenue methodology.

The Patriot Ledger
Wednesday, August 4, 1999

Petition asks for vote next year
By Gary Susswein
Patriot Ledger Statehouse Bureau

For 10 years, David Wilson has waited in vain for state leaders to cut his taxes. Tired of waiting, the part-time businessman and longtime political activist now has a better idea.

He'll cut them himself.

Wilson, who chairs the Plymouth County Republican Club, is one of 10 citizens who planned to submit a petition to the attorney general today that would allow residents to vote in November 2000 to cut the state's income tax rate from 5.95 percent to 5 percent.

Gov. Paul Cellucci also planned to be among the petition-signers. Cellucci has been unable to convince the Legislature to support the tax cuts and recently decided to join forces with Wilson and the other activists to take the question directly to the voters.

The $1.4 billion tax cut would save a family of four with an annual income of $75,000 nearly $600 a year. Wilson, a retired government worker who runs a tree nursery part-time, said he and his family would likely save slightly less.

Just as important as the savings, though, supporters say the vote would force the state to repeal a supposedly temporary tax increase that the Legislature passed in 1989 to compensate for a $1 billion budget deficit.

"That's our money and they're collecting much more than they need," said Wilson, an East Bridgewater resident. "And if they don't give it back, they're going to find a way to spend it."

Other signers likely will include House Minority Leader Francis Marini, R-Hanson, and members of Citizens for Limited Taxation and Government. [Norm Paley of Scituate, quoted below, is a longtime member of CLT and one of the petition's original 10 signers, as is David Wilson. Norm has been our Plymouth County coordinator -- Chip.]

With $1.2 billion in the state's rainy-day fund and another $500 million expected in surplus revenue from 1999, supporters say the state can afford to return taxes to 5 percent.

State law allows any group of 10 citizens to take a proposed change in law, such as the tax cut, to the voters. To do that, supporters must gather 57,000 signatures by this November and another 9,500 next year.

They tried to get the proposal on last year's ballot. Groups such as the Massachusetts Teachers Association opposed the effort and a judge ultimately ruled that the supporters did not have enough valid signatures.

This year, they say Cellucci's network of campaign employees and volunteers -- still in place from 1998 -- will ensure a different outcome.

"We're going to have the governor behind us," said Paley. "We hope he will generate a lot of enthusiasm for this."

Opponents dismiss the proposal as a fiscally risky plan that would force cuts in the $21 billion state budget and eliminate the financial cushion that would be needed if another recession hits Massachusetts.

"The drain on the revenue side to the state would be extremely detrimental for public education, especially now that we're in a critical stage with the second step of education reform (set to begin in 2001)," said Massachusetts Teachers Association President Steve Gorey. "We ought to be looking at sound fiscal policy."

Legislative leaders also say the 1989 tax hike was not temporary at all, as backers of the ballot initiative claim.

"You can't bind future legislatures on a tax policy that was in effect long before they had been asked to find the resources to support what government is now doing," said Rep. Paul Haley, D-Weymouth, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, who backs a smaller income tax cut. "It's going to be increasingly difficult to continue to cut taxes if, in fact, the governor is not going to make reasonable inflationary adjustments to user fees that support essential state services."

For supporters like Wilson, though, the annual state surpluses should be enough to pay for essential state programs.

The Brockton native has been fighting taxes for nearly 25 years, since he returned to his native Plymouth County after living out of state for several years. Even before the 1989 tax hike, he found he was paying more on car insurance, property taxes and income taxes than he had been paying in Connecticut.

"I moved back here in 1975 and my God I couldn't believe the difference in cost," he said. "I was shocked."

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