Post Office Box 408
Peabody, Massachusetts 01960 (508) 384-0100
Friday, August 6, 1999
The news (below) today indicates the problem: Leave our money in the hands of the pols and
they will spend it. They can't help themselves. It is their nature. It is like water
seeking its own level, air filling a vacuum.
At this point in time there is little more that can be said. As long as our
over-taxation resides in their coffers instead of our pockets, they will spend it --
whether the "surplus" is a million of our dollars, a billion -- or even the three
trillion that's being bandied about in Washington.
There's no sense getting upset that the pols are spending every cent they've
over-taxed us this year. It's spilled milk at this point. We let them keep it, they spent
it, it's gone.
We must focus on taking it away from them as quickly as is humanly possible --
stopping them before they uncontrollably spend again! They need our help as good citizens
to save them from themselves.
That means pursuing our tax roll back petition drive and getting it on the year
"It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness."
I hope you'll all strike a match and join us in getting the signatures.
If you are not already on the CLT mailing list and wish to help us get the
required signatures to put the tax rollback on the2000 ballot, please click here.
The Boston Herald
Friday, August 6, 1999
Our lawmakers try to spend all of it
A Boston Herald editorial
The Massachusetts Legislature is again spending money as if it grows on trees.
It has sent to the governor a supplemental capital budget to spend $599 million,
which could eat up the entire surplus from the fiscal year which ended June 30 (and for
which the books haven't closed). The sum is bad enough; how the House-Senate conference
committee came up with it is just as bad.
Most of the time, the committee "compromised" by letting each branch
have what it wanted in full. It added items that weren't in either bill referred to it, or
increased the amount over what had been voted by either branch, in 12 instances, boosting
the outlay by an additional $39 million.
Most attention has been focused on highway and bridge projects, where repairs have
been on short rations because much federal aid has been diverted to the Big Dig. The bill
provides $359 million, what Gov. Paul Cellucci and legislative leaders had planned for.
They would have done well to stop there. But for the rest of the bill, it was the
by-now familiar story: Quick, spend it before the taxpayers ask for some back.
Capital expenditures -- roads and bridges, structures, equipment, major repairs --
normally ought to be made with borrowed money, but the Big Dig and past profligacy means
the state must limit its borrowing. So the Legislature turns to the yearly surplus to get
some projects accomplished, from important computer upgrades for the district attorneys
down to a directive to give $150,000 to St. Stephen's Church in the North End for repairs,
even though the Massachusetts Historical Commission refused a grant in that amount.
The governor again owes the taxpayers some vetoes and item reductions, about $100
million worth. He could start with the $11 million for UMass and the state colleges to
match alumni contributions and build endowments.
But this kind of spending spree can only be halted by voters insisting on a tax
State House News Service
WEEKLY ROUNDUP (WEEK OF AUG. 2, 1999)
STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, AUG. 5, 1999 ...
The House and Senate also wasted no time Wednesday in passing a $599 million bill
to spend the FY 1999 surplus. The bottom line was interesting given that the highest
surplus estimate on Beacon Hill to date is $600 million. The bill spends most of the
surplus on capital projects that would have to wait otherwise because of borrowing
Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation President Michael Widmer says the $600 million
surplus spending was "really on the extravagant side." First off, House and
Senate conferees went into private discussions with a $475 million Senate bill and a $242
million House bill and came out with a $600 million spending bill. Conferees erred on the
side of spending and even introduced new projects during their private talks, he said. The
MTF supports spending the surplus on some public works projects but, Widmer said,
"They've taken a sound idea and carried it too far."
In last year's election cycle, Cellucci, painting himself as a fiscal watchdog,
vetoed a number of popular local projects, including library improvements. He was roundly
criticized throughout the state and by Democratic gubernatorial rival Scott Harshbarger,
but prevailed in the election. In his firstyear of a four-year term, it's unclear whether
Cellucci will wield his veto pen with the same enthusiasm or instead sign off on capital
projects with supporters all over Massachusetts.
The week's activity showed how difficult it is for the state to get out from under
its borrowing problem -- its per capita debt load ranks third in the nation. Spending $600
million in cash to advance public works projects takes pressure off the borrowing agenda,
but the pressure is put right back on with $450 in new Artery bond obligations and $150 in
new Chapter 90 bonds.
Cellucci also got to talk again this week about his favorite subject -- tax cuts.
He and Barbara Anderson of CLT fame filed a ballot question that will ask voters in 2000
to gradually reduce the 5.95 percent income tax rate to 5 percent, a $1.4 billion tax cut.
If the question is ruled valid and if its supporters can gather enough signatures, it will
be put before the electorate. Cellucci predicts it will pass easily. If it does, that will
jolt the funding status quo on Beacon Hill, where budget negotiators are still haggling
over details of a fiscal 2000 budget due five weeks ago. ...
NOTE: In accordance with Title 17
U.S.C. section 107, this material is distributed without profit or payment to those who
have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and
educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml
to CLT Updates page