and history of the first Promise petition effort
to roll back the "temporary" income tax increase
Defeated in court by the Massachusetts Teachers Association
State House News Service
July 30, 1997
Cellucci calls for income tax cut
During his first day as acting governor, Paul Cellucci
filed his first bill. Not surprisingly, it calls for a tax cut....
Cellucci wants the 5.95 percent income tax rate dropped
back down to 5 percent, the rate prior to 1989. In that year, lawmakers
hiked the tax to rescue the commonwealth from the brink of bankruptcy. At
the time, they said the increase was temporary and that the rate would
revert to 5 percent once the bonds needed to reduce a huge budget deficit
were retired. Those bonds are about to be paid off.
Concerned that the Democrat-controlled Legislature
might resist slashing the tax rate, Citizens for Limited Taxation and
Government plans to launch an initiative petition drive to place the tax
cut question before voters in 1998.
Cellucci said growing budget surpluses and the threat
of the ballot question should persuade lawmakers to endorse the latest tax
"Iím going to help Barbara Anderson get
signatures. I support it," he said of the campaign to place the
tax-cutting question before voters....
"I wasnít there in 1989, but it
appears a promise was made," Birmingham said. "It was
represented as temporary."
State House News Service
September 16, 1997
Cellucci wants Legislature to "do
the right thing" on taxes
Acting Gov. Paul Cellucci today called on the
Legislature to pass an income tax cut, saying the state can afford it and if the
General Court doesnít enact the reduction, the general public will.
Standing with Republican legislative leaders
and Barbara Anderson, who is shepherding a tax-cutting question toward the 1998
ballot, Cellucci reminded State House reporters the legislative leadership of
the late eighties promised the tax hikes of that era would be temporary.
The state income tax was raised in separate
steps to 5.95 percent from 5 percent during the fiscal crisis of 1988-91, to pay
off the stateís chronic deficits.
"I say the way you really make it a
temporary tax is you repeal it," Cellucci said. "That way you can say,
Ďsee, it really was a temporary tax.í"
Anderson, co-director of Citizens for Limited
Taxation and Government, said the Legislature has until the first Wednesday in
May to pass the tax reduction on its own, once her group gathers 64,928
signatures to put the question before the Legislature.
If the Legislature votes it down or does not
act, the question will go before voters in November, after the tax-cutters
gather another 10,821 names.
Though the Legislature will have the option
not to take up the tax cut at all, Anderson urged it to do so. "It really
is our preference that the Legislature go first," Anderson said. "This
is not a controversial tax cut. This is a promise that they made. The crisis is
If and when legislators take up the tax cut,
she said, voters should and would divide legislators into distinct camps:
"People with honor, who vote yes, people
who vote no and have no honor" and those who prefer the Legislature not do
anything with the question -- or, in Andersonís words, "People who show
they have no honor and no courage."
Cellucci said estimates of first-quarter state
tax revenues, due within days, will probably show better performance than
expected. "If we donít take (the extra money) off the table, state
government will find a way to spend it," Cellucci said.
House Minority Leader David Peters of Charlton
said getting a roll call in the House would be the number one priority of House
Republicans this fall. Senate Republican Leader Brian Lees of E. Longmeadow said
it would be foolish for the Legislature not to take up the reduction, because
the question is sure to be brought before the public next fall.
The Boston Herald
Tuesday, September 23, 1997
Record surplus for Mass.
By Bernard J. Wolfson
A booming economy with moderate spending
helped push the Bay Stateís budget surplus to a record $795 million in fiscal
1997, according to estimates by a Boston-based watchdog group.
The Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation said
the record windfall will provide extra cash for capital projects while filling
the stateís "rainy day" stabilization fund to near its current
ceiling of $900 million. It will also offer a hedge against future increases in
the stateís welfare caseload, the foundation said.
"Both the administration and the
Legislature deserve credit for a series of prudent decisions that -- in
combination with a robust economy -- put the commonwealth in the best financial
shape of the decade," the group said in its two-page report.
The projected surplus is nearly double last
yearís $446 million figure.
With the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, the
books havenít closed yet, and the state comptrollerís office isnít
expected to publish the official numbers until Oct. 31.
But Michael Widmer, the foundationís
president, said his group has held many discussions with state finance
officials. "These will be close to the final numbers," he said.
According to the foundation, fiscal 1997 tax
receipts will rise about $810 million, or 6.7 percent, to $12.861 billion. Total
revenue will hit $18.7 billion, compared with estimated spending of $17.6
billion and an additional $305 million in authorized funds to be carried over to
The state is expected to allocate $349 million
of the surplus for capital spending, $280 million for the "rainy day"
fund and $128 million for welfare cases, the foundation said.
The rainy day fund, used to cope with
recessions and other fiscal emergencies, will hit $850 million, an all-time
record. As recently as 1990, the fund was empty.
The Boston Herald
Wednesday, September 24, 1997
Reports praise tax cuts
By Bernard J. Wolfson
Bay State tax cutters were out in force
yesterday, trumpeting the benefits of slashing the stateís take of
salaries, wages and investment income.
Lexington-based Standard & Poorís
DRI released a report claiming that a pending bill to phase out the
stateís 12 percent tax on investment income would create 28,000 new jobs
and produce $2.4 billion in new personal income by the year 2007.
Suffolk Universityís Beacon Hill
Institute said a ballot initiative to cut the standard income tax from
5.95 percent to 5 percent by 2001 would create 105,281 new jobs and $4.9
billion in new wages and salaries.
But Jim St. George, executive director
of the Tax Equity Alliance for Massachusetts, said that with both
proposals there would be losers, not just winners. "Youíre going to
pay for it either with higher taxes somewhere else or with less
The proposed investment income tax
phase-out would cost the state $260 million in lost revenue by 2003,
according to the DRI report. The income tax cut to 5 percent would cost
nearly $1.3 billion, according to the Beacon Hill Institute.
State House News Service
December 8, 1997
Citizens for Limited Taxation and
Government handed in 65,045 valid signatures on its tax-cutting ballot
petitions by last Wednesdayís 5 pm deadline, but that doesnít mean the
group made it.
Workers from the Massachusetts
Teachers Association and the Tax Equity Alliance for Massachusetts
will spend this week pawing through the hundreds of petitions the group
submitted, looking for signatures that could be forged or otherwise
illegitimate. The groups are trying to prevent the tax reduction question
from going before voters in November, fearful that it will mean a cut in
spending on education and social programs.
The rollback of the state income tax to
5 percent from 5.95 percent is projected to cost state coffers $1.2
billion a year after it is fully phased in. The group proposes that 1999
income be taxed at 5.6 percent; 2000 income at 5.3 percent; and income for
2001 and beyond at the pre-1989 rate of 5 percent.
Towards the goal of canceling votersí
ability to decide the question, the teacherís union and TEAM hope to
successfully challenge so many signatures that the petition is knocked off
the ballot. Challenges are filed with the five-member Ballot Law
Commission, a state board appointed by the governor that investigates
fraud in the electoral process. Challenges must be filed by Jan. 2, and
the board will then have until Jan. 23 to rule on how many signatures are
Arline Issacson, an MTA lobbyist who
spent part of Friday reviewing the tens of thousands of names, reported
back late in the day. The process, she said, was "slow as molasses in
Antarctica." But, she added, "Thereís some basis to say, yeah,
weíve got a shot here."
The Boston Globe
Wednesday, December 31, 1997
Coalition challenges state
By Frank Phillips
In a development that could have vast
political implications on Beacon Hill, a coalition organized by the Massachusetts
Teachers Association declared yesterday it has the ammunition to keep
a proposed $1.2 billion tax cut from appearing on the 1998 ballot.
The coalition -- which also includes the
Tax Equity Alliance for Massachusetts -- notified Secretary of
State William F. Galvin that it has found scores of what it called dubious
signatures on papers for the ballot question and will petition the state
Ballot Law Commission to reject them....
Thursday, January 8, 1998
Tax cut opponents challenge
BOSTON (AP) -- Tax cut opponents are challenging
nearly 40 times as many signatures as they need to in order to keep a
tax cut initiative off the November ballot.
They delivered a list of approximately 4,000 challenged signatures to
the Secretary of State on Wednesday in an effort to derail what they
say is an irresponsible tax cut.
Jim St. George, executive director of the liberal Tax Equity
Alliance of Massachusetts, said the group found a couple hundred
duplicate certified signatures as well as many more it could not find
on local voter registration lists.
"We're completely confident we will show the commission
signatures that should not have been certified and that will drop her
below the minimum number," St. George said, referring to Barbara
Anderson, a leader in the tax cut initiative.
TEAM needs to knock off 82 signatures to prevent the proposal to cut
the state income tax from 5.95 to 5 percent from making it on the
St. George said the group does not believe all 4,000 signatures are
invalid, but included all those in doubt since the challenge list
cannot be added to later.
"They're throwing spitballs at the wall," said Anderson,
co-chair of the Citizens for Limited Taxation, sponsors of the
She said her group is also poring over the signatures and have already
found an estimated 800 signatures that would have been certified, but
were wrongly excluded because the name was thought to be unregistered
State House News Service
April 3, 1998
Anderson and her tax-cut ballot initiative will be in Suffolk Superior
Court, sitting in Middlesex, this Wednesday for oral arguments.
Anderson is facing a challenge by the Massachusetts Teachers
Association, who argue the state canít afford a large tax cut.
CLT News Release
April 7, 1998
Teachers Union Bullies, Harasses
An 83-year old Springfield woman fears
to leave next week on a planned visit to see her son because she's told
she might be subpoenaed by the Massachusetts Teachers
Association to appear in Suffolk Superior Court, and calls her
state representative for help.
A retired couple in Holyoke receive a
call from "Priscilla Lyons, a Cambridge attorney" who evades
identification and implies she is a representative of Citizens for
Limited Taxation & Government. An appointment is made for her to get
a signature sample from them but nobody shows up -- until a day later.
Upon demand for identification, the tardy and mysterious agent,
"George Shay," admits that he's an official of the
greater-Springfield teachers union.
When the call comes to one of their
four sons, it's implied that the call is being made on behalf of a
Justice of Superior Court, who is verifying signatures. A mysterious
agent travels to one Holyoke son's place of employment for a
hand-writing sample -- in Connecticut.
Phony subpoenas are received by
signers, faintly watermarked "Sample" and accompanied by a
letter requesting hand-writing samples or else.
A voter is told his signature is
forged, because the teachers union has misread it.
"Imperative" demands are
made for visits by mysterious agents who allege they've previously sent
letters, but never did.
A husband, wife, and mother receive
letters threatening subpoenas unless they comply and produce signature
samples -- because they all live at the same address and thus are
Terrence is forced to provide his
signature or be subpoenaed because the teachers union thinks it looks
like "Teresa," though their letter is addressed to Terrence.
Agent "Ann" arrives at the
home of a West Roxbury petition signer to obtain a signature sample. By
the time she leaves she has become "very hostile."
Our phones at CLT have been ringing
constantly over the past few days with these and many similar reports.
All across the state voters are getting harassing calls, letters, and
visits from agents of the Massachusetts Teachers Association.
A desperate teachers union has stooped
to new depths, wallowing in unprecedented harassment and intimidation of
citizens, whose only offense was signing the A Promise to Keep: 5%
petition to roll back the income tax rate. The union deserves to lose
and it will.
CLT News Release
April 13, 1998
Are Not Ours!
As the battle rages
between Citizens for Limited Taxation & Government and the Massachusetts
Teachers Association on the state income tax rollback, citizens
are being issued subpoenas to appear in Superior Court to validate or
invalidate their signatures on the petition.
The subpoenas are
being sent by Hoopes & Cronin with a cover letter signed by Cheryl
Cronin that states "we represent individuals involved in an
upcoming trial..." that does not identify those individuals
nor the organizations who are challenging the petition, the MTA and its
puppet, the Tax Equity Alliance of Massachusetts (TEAM). Subpoena
recipients are told to call 1-800-392-6088 to discuss signing an
Callers to that number
last week were not told who was issuing the subpoena unless they
pressed. The persons on the other end said it was "ten
signers." When directly questioned, they finally admitted the
first signer was "St. George" -- i.e., Jim St.
George, director of TEAM. One caller was told "This subpoena was
issued by Barbara Anderson because. . ."
CLT and its
ballot committee A Promise to Keep: 5% have issued no subpoenas.
Using the Secretary of State's Central Voter Registry database, and
volunteers checking original voter registrations at city/town halls, we
have identified over 1500 signatures that we argue should have been
certified last fall and should now be added by the Superior
The teachers union,
along with challenging our additions, is trying to remove more
signatures that had been certified by city/town registrars. In its
desperation, the MTA is frivolously fishing for unlikely forgeries by
harassing husbands and wives whose names appear together on the
petitions. Even when the handwriting is obviously different, the union
is threatening citizens with subpoenas that interfere with jobs and
vacations or require long drives to Boston. Many of the people who are
calling our office are elderly.
If in fact someone's
name was signed by another, we agree that this name should be struck.
But if people are willing to sign an affidavit that they did sign the
petition, they should not be forced to appear in court. However, people
are calling us to complain that the people who made an appointment to
come to their home to get the affidavit signed are not keeping the
appointment, or are being "very hostile."
It is clear to us that
the MTA is not only trying to keep our petition off the ballot, but is
trying to harm the initiative petition process by discouraging future
Our case will be tried
this week, with the MTA handwriting "expert" expected to be on
the stand Tuesday. The subpoenas for "hundreds" of voters have
been issued for Wednesday and Thursday.
The Boston Globe
Tuesday, May 5, 1998
Tax-cut question will go unasked
Petition loses challenge, wonít make ballot
By Frank Phillips
In a crushing blow to the stateís once
powerful grass-roots anti-tax movement, a plan to cut income taxes by $1.2
billion next year was blocked yesterday from appearing on the November
Suffolk Superior Court Judge Allan van
Gestel ruled that tax cut leader Barbara Anderson and her organization did
not gather enough certified voter signatures to place the question on this
yearís ballot. He found that even if he ruled in favor of the tax-cut
proponents on each of the 6,000 disputed signatures, the petition still
would be 26 shy of the constitutionally required 64,928.
The proposal would have asked voters if
the state should cut its income tax rate from 5.95 percent to 5 percent.
Anderson, who for nearly two decades
successfully forced tax cuts, tax caps, and legislative pay-raise repeals
on Beacon Hill, said she doubts her group will appeal the judgeís
"We donít have the resources to
match the power of the Massachusetts Teachers Association at every
step of the process," Anderson said, referring to the unionís
well-financed effort to block the petition from reaching the ballot.
But opponents of the tax rollback said
the decision allows the state legislators to consider more modest tax cuts
without the political pressures of a public petition campaign.
"This means that the $1.2 billion
tax cut is dead and that whatever tax break we will see will come through
the normal legislative process," said Jim St. George, the executive
director of Tax Equity Alliance for Massachusetts, a liberal,
union-funded group that coordinated the challenge to the petitionís
With the petition off the ballot, the
dynamics of the tax debate on Beacon Hill and in the gubernatorial races
shift heavily in favor of the Democratsí more moderate tax-reduction
The court ruling is not only a serious
blow to Anderson and her group, Citizens for Limited Taxation and
Government, but it also undermines Acting Governor Paul Cellucci as he
tries to push a similar tax cut plan in the Legislature.
If the petition had made it to the
ballot, where voter approval would have been almost certain, Cellucci
would have had leverage to force the Democrat-controlled Legislature to
approve the rollback.
Anderson lashed out at the teachersí
union for financing and organizing the challenge to the petition
signatures, charging that the union spent nearly $1 million of its member
dues to "crush ... democracy."
Anderson said she wants to confer with
her supporters and lawyers before making a final decision on whether to
appeal, but said she is inclined to drop the case. Anderson said she does
not want to drain her groupís resources on a case she said it would
In January, the teachersí union and
the tax-equity group took their challenge to the stateís ballot law
commission, which after a week of hearings threw out hundreds of
signatures, leaving the petition 355 short. Anderson then took her case to
Cellucci acknowledged yesterday that he
has lost some clout in forcing the Legislature to roll back the income tax
to 5 percent, but said he would continue to raise the heat on the
Democrats to accept the plan, which he said would save an average family
of four about $600 a year.
"This is a battle that is not going
to go away," Cellucci said. "It doesnít change any of the
reasons why we should do it. The people in the Legislature should be
listening to their constituents."
Cellucci reiterated the tax cuttersí
arguments that the tax was raised to pay for late 1980s budget deficits
and that promises were made then that the hike would be temporary.
"I have news for the Democratic
Legislature. The fiscal crisis is over. Keep your promise," Cellucci
The Boston Globe
Tuesday, May 5, 1998
Ruling disappoints taxpayers
By Patrick J. Calnan
A judgeís decision to keep off the
November ballot a plan that could have poured $1.2 billion into
taxpayersí pockets was greeted with disappointment on Boston streets
"Itís terrible," said Angela
Pierre 49, a machine operator from Dorchester. "You should be able to
make the decision. I canít say I feel angry, but not good."
Judge Allan van Gestel ruled that the
bid for a ballot question didnít have enough valid signatures.
"I donít like it," said Pat
Clooney, 43, a nurse and mother.
"If weíre paying the taxes, we
should be able to control how much we pay. It makes me want to move to
someplace like New Hampshire that doesnít have high taxes."
Vincent Grzesik, a store owner from
Burlington, said he has lost faith in legislators. "Every time they
have a tax increase and they said itís short-term or whatever, you never
see it go back down again," he said.
Stephen Mitchell, a mutual fund
portfolio administrator who lives in Dorchester, said he hoped
yesterdayís decision would not be the end of the matter.
"I wish we had known about
it," he said. "The question now is, is it too late for it to be
on the ballot, and can we have another signature drive?"
Stephen Mitchell and the others
now have their second chance!
on Question 4
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