A Ballot Committee of Citizens for Limited Taxation


The Boston Globe
July 2, 2000

Tax-cutting initiatives criticized
By Regina Montague
Globe Correspondent

If two major initiatives to reduce state taxes on the November ballot both pass, Massachusetts will lose about $2 billion in revenue and be forced to slash spending on education and social services, a nonpartisan fiscal watchdog group said yesterday.

The Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, which released yesterday's analysis, said the state could afford to enact Question 4, Governor Paul Cellucci's initiative to roll back the income tax rate over three years, if revenues continue to grow and lawmakers restrain spending.

But the business-backed foundation advised against approval of Question 6, the Free the Pike initiative, which would reduce residents' income taxes by the amount they spend on highway tolls and excise taxes.

"While most of the public debate has focused on Question 4, the outcome of Question 6 will be critical," foundation President Michael J. Widmer said.

Unlike the governor's tax rollback, which would reduce the income tax to 5 percent, from 5.85, by 2004, the Free the Pike initiative would take effect Jan. 1. The foundation estimated the rollback would reduce annual tax revenues by $1.4 billion when fully phased in.

Widmer also said if Question 6 passed, the state would lose $700 million in revenue. But Question 6 proponents disagreed, estimating the annual loss at $400 million.

With the economy booming, a low unemployment rate and growing state revenue, Free the Pike Coalition spokesman Harold Hubschman said: "If we can't afford to cut people's tolls and auto excise taxes now, when can we afford to cut them?"

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