MassFiscal Takes Anti-Tax Torch From Citizens For Limited Taxation

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By Sam Doran
State House News Service

After nearly 50 years, Citizens For Limited Taxation is turning off the lights at the end of 2022, and its final leader on Thursday said he expected its members would bolster the ranks of another Bay State fiscal watchdog.

Citizens For Limited Taxation executive director Chip Ford gave his blessing to the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance in a press conference Thursday, saying he was “passing the torch onto the new generation” and calling the organization “the only game [left] in town” now that CLT is closing up shop.

A recent notice of the closing, sent to Citizens For Limited Taxation members encouraging them to shift their support to MassFiscal, was blasted out to around 1,500 people, according to Ford.

“I would expect that CLT members will be transferring their support to MassFiscal, because these are people who have been in the trenches for decades and they’re not going to stop fighting, and they’re going to need someplace to go,” Ford said.

Ford said he is confident that MassFiscal will carry on his group’s legacy of fighting tax increases, supporting tax cuts, and defending Citizens For Limited Taxation initiatives that made it into law, like Proposition 2 1/2 and the Chapter 62F revenue cap.

Proposition 2 1/2, which limits the annual growth in property taxes, “revolutionized property tax administration and is a fundamental feature of the Massachusetts municipal fiscal landscape,” the state Division of Local Services proclaims on its web site.

Ford emphasized that defending Proposition 2 1/2 from alterations or repeal was former Citizens For Limited Taxation director Barbara Anderson’s main concern.

“If that goes away, I don’t know what happens to the taxpayers of Massachusetts. None of them will be able to live there any longer,” he said.

“It’s a blessing for Massachusetts that we have it,” MassFiscal spokesman Paul Diego Craney said of 2 1/2. “And it’s MassFiscal’s job to continue to protect it as long as we can.”

Ford said a “very underreported part” of Citizens For Limited Taxation’s work is “prevent[ing] bad tax increases, bad tax policy.”

In recent years, he said, the Massachusetts Legislature was on track to create “community benefit districts” that could have levied their own taxes in an “end-run” around Proposition 2 1/2.

“We were able to defeat that. It was snuck into an economic development bill. We got it removed,” he said.

Craney said he has gained “insight” from Ford and “historical background of all the issues and the fights that have been going on.”

Ford tried to shut down the nonprofit in 2018 when he moved out of Massachusetts, he said, but “the membership went crazy” about his decision — so for four years he has run the group remotely from his Kentucky home.

Now, he’s identified “some new blood,” made it his “exit strategy,” and it’s the “end of the line with me,” Ford said, after 37 years as a political activist.

resume posted to Citizens For Limited Taxation’s web site says Ford’s first activism was in opposition to the state’s first mandatory seatbelt law. He consulted for Citizens For Limited Taxation on its successful 1994 campaign against a graduated income tax ballot initiative, and became the group’s co-director in 1996.

“Working for CLT, it’s never been a job, it’s been a vocation. It’s been a life,” said Ford.

“It’s time to enjoy personal time,” the 73-year-old added, noting that the other two leaders of CLT — Barbara Anderson and Chip Faulkner — both died at age 73.

“I work literally 12, 16, 18 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. I am so used to making excuses for having no social life,” Ford said.

Former Boston talk show host Avi Nelson, an occasional Boston Herald contributor, offered his congratulations on Ford’s retirement and asked if he would remain “active at all” with MassFiscal on upcoming projects.

“On a working basis, no. I’m retired,” Ford replied, though he would make his “institutional memory” available.

Craney said the “invitation is always open,” and Ford’s “always welcome to give me a call, and I plan to give him a call quite a bit when things pop up.”

MassFiscal’s web site on Thursday, December 14 displayed a banner with Citizens For Limited Taxation’s old motto — “A tax cut is a pay raise.”


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