OCTOBER 30, 2008: With just days remaining before the election on Novermber 4, Association officials are calling on members to VOTE NO on Question 1.

Advocates of limited government are at it once again, this time proposing to reduce state spending by 40%. Sponsored by the Committee For Small Government, a binding referendum will appear on the general election ballot on November 4, 2008 that asks Massachusetts voters to do away with that state’s 5.3% income tax.

The Committee For Small Government is led by Carla Howell, who is a former Libertarian candidate for governor and staunch anti-government activist. Howell has long advocated for the reduction or elimination of the income tax.

Based on the anticipated impact of the income tax elimination on the Commonwealth, the Association is opposed to Question 1 and urges members to vote NO. A forty percent reduction in state tax collections represents $12.7 billion in current revenues.

Association officials join the leadership of the Republican and Democratic parties in opposing Question 1. In fact, over one hundred business groups, associations, unions, and other organizations have banded together to defeat Question 1.

"This is an extremely irresponsible and dangerous proposal. It must be defeated," said Association President Ralph White. "No one likes paying taxes, but I think most of our members understand that there is a cost that comes with government. Retirees also can’t forget that there is a cost to providing their pension and health insurance benefits.

"Retirees pay the lions share of their pension costs and a large portion of their insurance benefits, but the taxpayers do share in those costs as well. Eliminating the income tax would harm the state’s ability to fund its share of pension obligations and also, to continue its portion of insurance benefits."

While public retirees do not pay state income taxes on their contributory pensions, they do pay taxes on their investment and other retirement income, along with any earned income they may receive from employment.

23rd In Tax Burden

Recent studies, including a comprehensive report by the nonpartisan Washington based Tax Foundation, place Massachusetts in the middle of the pack in terms of overall tax burden.

Over the past three years, the state has ranked 23rd when considering the combination of state and local tax burden. For instance, in 2008 the per capita Massachusetts income tax is $3,609, based on a per capita income of $56,661.

By comparison, twenty years ago, during the period when the state was known as "Taxachusetts", the Commonwealth ranked 16th in total tax burden, based on a per capita income of $22,218. Total state and local taxes paid at that time were $2,219 per capita.

"These numbers really speak for themselves here. The idea that Massachusetts taxes are among the highest in the country is a myth. Being twenty-third out of fifty states puts us right in the middle," explained Association Legislative Liaison Shawn Duhamel. "Constantly calling for tax cuts is no more than a political ploy. This antigovernment crowd does not value education, public safety or the need to provide a sound infrastructure. I hope the voters take the time to think about the purpose of government and what type of state they would like to live in."

Question 1 opponents caution that the elimination of the state income tax will result in severe cuts in state services, as well as a large portion of the local aid given to cities and towns. The referendum also comes at a time when much of the state’s transportation infrastructure is in need of repair.

"We can’t expect to live in a state that is known as a leader in education, healthcare and business innovation without having to pay a small amount of taxes. As a society, we also have a responsibility to provide a reasonable safety net for the less fortunate – including some of our own members," continued White. "Question 1 is such a bad idea that we have to ask our members to vote no."

"Granted, there are some within our ranks who would vote yes with the intent of ‘sending a message’, even though they are against the cut. We suggest if there are enough voters who unrealistically think we can survive without any taxes, ‘message’ votes could put Question 1 over the 50% mark. Therefore, to join with them even to the extent of a ‘message’ vote is dangerous and against yourself as a public retiree."