Limited Taxation
Post Office Box 408     Peabody, Massachusetts   01960     (508) 384-0100
E-Mail:       Web-page:

CLT Update
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 2000 ballot.

"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.

CFord-Sig2.gif (4854 bytes)

Chip Ford

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 reduction.

State House News Service




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 limitations.

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:

Return to CLT Updates page