Limited Taxation
Post Office Box 408     Peabody, Massachusetts   01960     (508) 384-0100
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CLT Update
Tuesday, November 16, 1999


The CLT and Tax Rollback Committee drivers hit the road early this morning with petition packages that will be delivered to every city and town hall in the commonwealth for which we have signatures!

Tomorrow at 5:00 PM is the absolute deadline for getting ALL petitions to the city and town clerks (except for ONLY the City of Boston, which has a unique deadline of next Monday, November 22nd, which gives us through this weekend to get more signatures in Boston to insure our success).

If you still have any petitions in your possession, please take them to the appropriate city or town clerk before tomorrow's deadline, get a receipt, and mail it to us at the above address. Our drivers will pick them up -- along with all our other petitions -- after they have all been certified.

Thanks so much to all of you who rolled up your sleeves, got your hands dirty, converted words to action, and worked so hard to hopefully make this massive undertaking a success. Right now we feel pretty confident that it will be successful ... thanks to each of you who took an active part in the drive and made a contribution to the effort.

So that you can see what we're going up against, the following article appeared in the Boston Phoenix. I think you'll find it interesting if not amusing. Apparently we've got them running scared, pardon the pun. Use the hyperlink to see the hilarious graphic that ran with the story!

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Chip Ford

The Boston Phoenix
November 5, 1999

Spooky acts by Citizens for Limited Taxation

by Seth Gitell

This past Halloween may have meant fun and games for children, but to Citizens for Limited Taxation (CLT) it was another opportunity to raise hell over taxes.

CLT, which is largely credited with the passage of Proposition 2 1/2 in the Commonwealth almost two decades ago, is pushing for a rollback of the state income tax to 5 percent. A similar attempt in 1990 failed, and now, with the help of high-profile Republicans including Governor Paul Cellucci, the group wants to get the rollback question on the ballot for the 2000 election. CLT activists headed out over the Halloween weekend to 14 shopping malls across the state, collecting signatures as part of their "taxes or treat" campaign.

The goal, according to a CLT press release, "is to submit at least 100,000 'raw' signatures to the city and town halls on the November 17th deadline ... to avoid a challenge from the goblins in the Massachusetts Teachers Association and the Tax Equity Alliance of [sic] Massachusetts."

Being characterized as "goblins" drew the ire of both groups singled out by CLT.

"It's appropriate that CLT is collecting signatures on Halloween, because their petition is truly frightening. If it passes, the real trick will be on the public-school kids across the state, who will have fewer and fewer treats to look forward to when they go to school," says Stephen Gorrie, the president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association. "This ballot question would put a stake through the heart of plans for smaller classes, alternative programs for disruptive students, safer and more-modern buildings, and mentoring programs for new teachers. So who are the real goblins here?"

A TEAM policy analyst, Sarah Nolan, quips that a better analogy might be the Wizard of Oz. Says Nolan: "There's nothing behind the curtain here. The Taxachusetts image is rather outdated, and nobody seems to be crying out for this tax cut except for the people trying to put it on the ballot."

The Best Legislature Money Can Buy
The Continuing Saga

The Lawrence Eagle-Tribune
Sunday, November 14, 1999

They always look out for themselves

Massachusetts legislators say they need more money.

Speaker Thomas M. Finneran was right to put a stop to their latest scheme.

How did they ever think they would get away with it?

Unbridled audacity, pure and simple.

The Massachusetts Legislature, just one year after passing a sneakily worded ballot question that writes their automatic pay raises into the state constitution, tried to slide through a proposal to give themselves even more money.

It took intervention by House Speaker Thomas M. Finneran to put a stop to the idea.

This is the same Legislature that has been AWOL while the state has been operating without a budget for the past four months.

Last fall, voters approved a measure that tied legislators' pay to the rise and fall in the state's median income. Legislators no longer have to debate or vote on their pay raises and attract all that distasteful public attention. They're automatic.

Some voters feel the pols pulled another fast one on them. Legislators wrote the ballot question as if an affirmative vote would bar them from voting to raise their own salaries. That it did. The automatic increases were in the fine print.

So here we are one year later and some legislators are worried that another ballot initiative that passed in that election will put the squeeze on their pocketbooks. The Clean Elections Law offers public money for political campaigns provided a candidate agrees to contribution and spending limits. That means every dollar in the campaign war chests legislators routinely dip into for travel expenses, event tickets, local offices and mailings with be more precious.

Their solution: Soak the taxpayers for some more money.

The House Ways and Means Committee proposed forming a special commission to seek ways to supplement legislators' pay. One idea was to increase their expense accounts. Rank and file legislators now get $46,410 a year plus $300 a month for expenses.

Rep. Finneran quashed the whole grand scheme when he issued a statement questioning the judgment of the committee and criticizing the timing of the proposal, but it shows clearly where legislators' priorities are. They have yet to keep the promise they made a decade ago to restore the state income tax to 5 percent.

Let any threat be made to their precious pocketbooks and they will fight for every dime, even if it means twisting the law.

As for the rest of us, they could not care less.

The Boston Herald
Tuesday, November 16, 1999

Haste still makes waste
A Boston Herald editorial

The legislative goof that appears to give the MBTA one penny from every sales-tax transaction instead of the intended one fifth of the tax is good for a laugh, but too much should not be made of it.

It can be quickly fixed. No doubt the pooh-bahs on Beacon Hill will figure out whom to blame: A tired typist omitting a couple of words? A slip of the calculator? It hardly matters.

But there is a point to consider. Too many laws are sloppily drafted, giving rise to results that no one intended, and there appears to be a rising trend. Sometimes somebody may have misunderstood a deal reached in a noisy hallway the evening of adjournment and jotted down on the back of a matchbook. Sometimes it's simple haste, more likely the cause here.

And it's true, too many lawmakers are voting on things they never read.

Haste makes waste, mother used to warn. This is not a bad thought to keep in mind when making laws.

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