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

CLT Update
Thursday, December 16, 1999


It's official: Our tax rollback petition has been certified by the Secretary of State!

After disqualifying 7,590 signatures on petitions that failed the new state Supreme Judicial Kangaroo Court "no extraneous marks" ruling, and after deducting for the county distribution formula (no more than 25 percent of the certified signatures [14,275] can come from any one single county -- and we "maxed out" in Middlesex [30,567], Worcester [22,537], and Norfolk [18,068] counties) -- we have officially qualified with 87,723 certified signatures.

After all was said and done, that's 30,623 more signatures than were required! What a truly fantastic job you did!

And today we have yet another indicator of just how our tax over-payment is being spent -- squandered in some instances, in others indirectly returned to taxpayers ... at least some taxpayers. Remember how the governor was pilloried for "sacrificing the children" by denying them an additional $94 million in "education funds" above the three billion-plus in the final budget?

After hearing the howls or protest already that we "can't afford" the tax rollback, I'll bet this "revelation" is going to just shock everyone on this list ... right? Just shock you!

CFord-Sig2.gif (4854 bytes)

Chip Ford

The Boston Globe
Thursday, December 16, 1999

Legislators rap spending of school funds
By Tina Cassidy
Globe Staff

Revelations that some communities across the state are using their share of a late-won, $94 million education budget increase on things like tax cuts rather than textbooks sparked outrage at the State House yesterday.

Senate President Thomas F. Birmingham, whose insistence on getting the money helped delay the budget for nearly five months, said he was angry that it was being spent outside the classroom. He warned yesterday that the news could influence how Beacon Hill allocates education money in the future.

"Going forward, this is something that might inform," said Birmingham, who negotiated the funds on top of the record $3.5 billion already being spent on schools.

But some communities said the tardiness of the budget made it difficult for them to spend the extra cash because their school budgets had already been set for the year, and they would need   special town meeting to decide how to spend it.

"That is nonsense," Birmingham said. "They don't have to jump through any hoops ... We did not fight all summer to get full funding for our public schools, we did not unanimously override the governor's veto [of the $94 million], in order to provide a tax cut in Boxborough."

Meanwhile, Lieutenant Governor Jane Swift said the administration will try to determine how many cities and towns chose not to spend their "windfalls" on education improvements.

"We want to make sure that we know where the money's being spent, but in a time of education accountability, folks might have to justify how air conditioning in the superintendent's office is going to improve MCAS scores," Swift said yesterday, referring to the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System.

Yesterday, the Globe reported that education funds triggered local tax rate reductions in Acton and Boxborough. Uxbridge officials are considering spending $352,000 for a new police station  and Belmont's $500,000 share is not earmarked for anything in particular.

In North Attleborough, more than a third of its $1 million windfall will be used to renovate the school superintendent's building, including upgrading the air conditioning.

Communities, aware that it is not illegal to spend the school funds elsewhere, said accounting and logistical problems made it hard to use the money for education nearly four months into the school year.

"It was part of our argument evaluating why the money was excessive," Swift said. "It didn't take a rocket scientist to know that we were several months into the fiscal year and that schools had started without this money many months before."

Education proponents are already fretting that the news could further charge the budget debate next year and lead to less funding.

"Sure, it's going to be a difficult battle, but cities and towns are putting these funds to good use," said Jeff Beckwith, executive director of the Massachusetts Municipal Association. "If we hear this tune, then we'll understand what's behind the suggestions that the money's not necessary."

Beckwith stressed that most communities are using the money for schools, and Birmingham had said he believed the number of cities and towns that are spending the money elsewhere was "infinitesimal."


Massachusetts Republican Party

Contact: John Brockelman, (617) 357-1999

December 15, 1999


In light of reports on education funding in today's Boston Globe and Boston Herald, the Massachusetts GOP called on numerous grandstanding legislators to retract their outrageous rhetoric and admit they had no idea where all the extra money was going.

The Boston Globe and Boston Herald both reported today that millions of dollars in extra-education money is being spent on air conditioning for superintendents and other bureaucrats, new police stations, property tax cuts, and purchasing open space and not on kids in the classroom.

"All the legislators who grandstanded on this issue should be embarrassed," said Mass. GOP Executive Director John Brockelman. "They should retract their statements today and tell the taxpayers they had no idea where all this extra money was really going."

Brockelman noted that the most egregious example of political grandstanding was turned in by State Senator Cheryl Jacques:

Jacques told the Attleboro Sun Chronicle:

"'I am outraged,' she said, saying the vetoes show 'a total disregard' for education."

"'This is not fat. You can't cut out $1 million out of a budget for a town the size of North Attleboro. That's cutting the bone."' (Attleboro Sun Chronicle, 11/17/99)

However, the Boston Globe reported today that two-thirds of North Attleboro's extra money will be used to renovate the school superintendent's office and equip it with a new air conditioning system.

In addition, the Mass. GOP called on several other legislators to retract their rhetoric as well:

  • Senator Tom Birmingham: "There is not a school district in this commonwealth that will not be severely disadvantaged by this veto." (Metro West Daily News, 11/17/99)
  • "This is a hardheaded, mean spirited, shortsighted failure on the governor's part." (Boston Globe, 11/18/99)
  • Senator Frederick Berry: "The governor's short-sighted approach to funding education was misguided. Investing in children's education now will reap benefits for generations to come." (Salem Evening News, 11/18/99)
  • Representative David Linsky: "'He (the governor) is putting his wishes to reduce the budget on the backs of the children of this commonwealth,' said state Rep. David Linsky, D-Natick  calling the veto 'unconscionable."' (MetroWest Daily News, 11/18/99)
  • Senator Linda Melconian: "The governor has said that because a third of the fiscal year is completed education reform funds can be cut by a third. This reasoning is illogical and flawed. How will it work? Are we going to buy our children two-thirds of a textbook? Is two-thirds of a teacher going to teach them?" (Springfield Union News, 11/17/99)
  • State Representative Christopher Hodgkins: "After what we saw with the results of those tests and for a governor who wants to call himself the education governor, that is cowardice and that is lip service. Shame on him. If it was the private sector, you would call it fraud." (Berkshire Eagle, 11/17/99)
  • Senator Robert Antonioni: "Communities across the commonwealth will be underfunded and that will be a shame." (Lowell Sun, 11/17/99)
  • Senator Steven Panagiotakos: "Education Reform in the early years, was heavily weighted to urban schools and, in these last few years, the suburban schools have experienced their greates  increases (in enrollment). Now the governor has pulled the rug out. That's not fair." (Lowell Sun, 11/17/99)

GOP Lawmakers:
Support for Cellucci Second to Hometown Needs

By Craig Sandler

STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, DEC. 13, 1999 ... A month after a rash of Republican votes on budget overrides put GOP legislators at odds with their governor and sparked questions about what the party stands for, legislative leaders insist they would take the same votes today.

A look back shows the magnitude of Republican disagreement with Republican Gov. Paul Cellucci on his budget overrides: 30 of the Senate's 74 veto votes were unanimous, meaning Republicans, when given the opportunity, voted in a bloc against their governor 41 percent of the time. GOP lawmakers voted unanimously to replace about half of the $250 million Cellucci vetoed.

A look forward raises an important question: will the GOP be as divided against itself this spring and summer, when historic decisions must be made about how much to spend in the next round of education reform?

And still remaining are basic questions: when Republicans put the interests of their districts first and overrode vetoes like $94 million in education funding, were the interests of their districts a  odds with Republican philosophy or with Cellucci philosophy? And should observers conclude that Republican policy, when the interests of the district are at stake, is to vote Democratic? If Paul Cellucci were still in the Senate, would those override votes still have been unanimous?

Senate Minority Leader Brian Lees (R-E. Longmeadow) didn't take the bait. "That's not something I can presume to say for Paul Cellucci or Jane Swift," he said, referring to th  lieutenant governor, who like Cellucci is a former state senator.

But he did note a senator's agenda and constituency is different than that of a governor. "The fact of the matter is, everybody has priorities," Lees said. For the governor, it's the overall siz  of the budget: "I believe Paul and Jane try to keep fiscal discipline the most important thing they do."

But for each senator, Lees said, the number one priority is what the district needs - and on the education funding, that was each district's share of an additional $94 million Cellucci vetoed.

"The governor represents the whole state, but for elected (legislative) officials, they're looking out for the needs of their district," Lees said. "Still, I do believe we're the fiscal watchdog, and I don't think we've had a better night in years than we had in the Senate that night. Republicans still cut the budget."

House Minority Leader Francis Marini of Hanson pointed out that besides the $94 million, Republicans in the House voted in a solid bloc against only about $19 million of the governor's vetoes. "That's a lot of money in terms of the experience of most people, but in terms of th  state budget it's not that much," Marini said.

"Is $19 million out of $20 billion a huge disagreement between the Republicans in the House and the governor? I would say not," the leader said. "In addition to being Republicans, we're in different branches of government. The whole system is designed to be a system of checks and balances."

The existence of the conflict makes it hard to determine what the Republican position is on education funding, going into a period when decision making on the topic is entering a major new time of uncertainty. This is the final year of the $1.7 billion state commitment to new money under the 1993 Education Reform Act. The question is, is the Legislature's position or th  governor's less-generous approach the Republican way of addressing education finance?

John Brockleman, executive director of the Massachusetts Republican Party, went with Cellucci. While making clear, "There isn't a specific position for the party on this one," Brockleman did add, "In the post ed-reform era, Republicans are going to want to focus on the accountability of school districts and administrators over big increases in spending."

Like Lees and Marini, Brockleman said Republican unanimity against the governor on 40 percent of his vetoes isn't politically significant. "There was a disagreement and that's democracy," Brockleman said. "I think that the governor as well as the Republicans in the Legislature have a long track record of supporting education."

Cellucci's budget is due Jan. 26. Decisions about how much new money districts get may be quantified in a formula being renegotiated at several levels: in the Legislature, at the Educatio  Department and within the governor's office. The complex formula factors in elements such as community per-capita income, population growth and other demographics, and sets the amoun  each city and town should receive. There's agreement the formula needs to be reworked.

After the Legislature examines the governor's budget, passes its own version and sends it to Cellucci, the GOP will be in the same position it was last month.

The governor will have to mull his role as disciplinarian, and the lawmakers -- most of whom will be in the middle of re-election campaigns in 2000 -- will be inclined towards generosity.

Lees said the strength of future disagreements between the Executive Branch and GOP legislators on education funding will be determined by what the governor proposes as the right spending level for Ed Reform Two.

The future of the intra-party debate is unclear, but one thing's sure: Democrats will try to exploit the division. Certainly Randi Woods, spokeswoman for the Democratic State Committee, has her sights trained and a full load of ammunition ready. She gave a preview of 2000.

"It's going to happen in every major funding issue that comes up," Woods said. "You can say you're fiscally conservative, but when you're trying to slice programs that need the funding -- you can't be the education governor when you're cutting funding to make sure kids that are left behind now don't get left behind more. And the legislators know that. They don't have a good figurehead to look up to.

"It was really interesting to watch, because if that sort of thing went on in Washington people like (House Majority Leader) Tom DeLay would be twisting their arms behind their backs quicker than you can say 'Republican National Committee,'" Woods said. "A lot of the legislators don't have the same faith in Paul Cellucci, they just don't have that same kind of leadership sense from him. A lot of them feel they can't trust his policy judgement. He says it's fiscal conservatism but it's just bad public policy. They know that, and that was evident the other night."

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