A Ballot Committee of Citizens for Limited Taxation


The Boston Globe
Wednesday, November 8, 2000

Voters approve Cellucci's tax cut
By Tina Cassidy
Globe Staff

Massachusetts voters yesterday granted themselves the largest single tax cut in state history, despite an aggressive, high-visibility campaign to defeat it.

Question 4, the centerpiece of Governor Paul Cellucci's political agenda, will reduce the income tax rate from 5.85 percent to 5 percent by 2003. The measure will cost $1.2 billion, and save a family of four with a household income of $75,000 about $450 a year.

"A great victory for the future of Massachusetts," said Cellucci, shortly after 9 p.m., as he appeared on a Woburn hotel stage, buoyant and beaming.

"I never met a tax cut I didn't like and this is a great thing for the people of Massachusetts," the governor later added. "I've been in this business 30 years. I am a Republican in a Democratic state. My modus operandi is to focus on doing the right thing. That's what I did." ...

But the cost of Question 4 made it one of the most important initiatives on the ballot.

The tax cut was vigorously opposed by labor unions, especially teachers and human service workers, who said the money should be used to reduce class sizes, expand services to the needy, and pay down the state's debt.

The Campaign for Massachusetts' Future, which organized the opposition to Question 4, dispatched about 7,000 sign-waving opponents to polling stations statewide and spent nearly $3 million to defeat the tax cuts, said spokesman Jim St. George.

But it was still not enough.

"The governor has the easiest job in politics, offering a tax cut at a time when the economy is moving along so well," St. George said. "We still plan to hold the governor accountable. He says we will be able to continue to expand our investments in schools and health care, and that's a promise we intend to make sure he keeps."

When Question 4 results flashed on a giant TV screen at the Crowne Plaza in Woburn, supporters cheered and clapped.

"Thank you Lord! The promise that was made 11 years ago has finally been kept. The Legislature didn't keep the promise so now the people did it for them," said Loretta Hayden of Stoughton, a Campaign worker for Citizens for Limited Taxation.

In 1989, the Legislature increase the tax rate from 5 percent to 6.25 percent, saying the raise was a temporary measure to get through the recession.

The passage of Question 4 will lower Massachusetts' overall tax burden, dropping the state from fifth highest to tenth, according to 1999 US Census Bureau statistics.

However, Massachusetts would still have the highest rate of the five states with flat income tax structures; although 30 states with graduated rates would be be higher, according to the Federation of Tax Administrators.

By supporting Question 4, reducing the income tax rate to 5 percent, Massachusetts residents essentially endorsed the centerpiece of Cellucci's political agenda -- and sent fear through the ranks of a Legislature worried about the initiative's cost.

The wide ranging ballot questions, sunny skies, and high interest in the presidential contest drew big crowds out to vote. Polling places in Boston remained open after the official 8 p.m. closing.

Raja Mishra, Brian MacQuarrie, Raphael Lewis and Steve Wilmsen of the Globe Staff assisted with this report, as did correspondent Amber Bollman.

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