Friend To The Working Stiff And Foe To Those Who Tax And Spend
By William Legault
Barbara Anderson is as important and influential a figure in Massachusetts as any who have walked the boards of the political stage in Massachusetts over the last forty years.
She achieved that importance without seeking or holding elective office. She did it without kowtowing or currying favor from those who held or now hold the reins of power. Barbara Anderson blazed the trail of a Massachusetts tax revolution that to this day helps those who work for a living and vexes municipal and state level politicians.
We owe her a debt of gratitude that in all reality can never be repaid.
Up until 1980 property taxes in Massachusetts were under no control at all. Each city could set whatever rate they wanted each fiscal year. Massachusetts always ranked quite high when compared with other states. Somewhere in the top three was usually what you could expect.
At the time there was a thing called “school committee fiscal autonomy.” Under this system there was no oversight or control of school committee budgets outside of the school committee itself. If a Mayor or a city council wanted to challenge a school committee budget the courts were the only option. You had to sue your own committee to change their budget. It happened more than once across the state, and the school committees generally prevailed.
Barbara Anderson was one of the leading voices of Proposition 2 1/2. This ballot initiative passed and limited property taxes to a maximum 2 1/2 percent annual increase, but also repealed the “school committee fiscal autonomy” provision.
She also led the attack on other tax issues over the years to include the repeal of the state income tax surcharge and was instrumental in the defeat of the graduated income tax ballot question. If taxes were the issue you could be sure that Barbara Anderson was a part of the fight.
As years passed and communities tried to override 2 1/2, Anderson would be there to throw cold water as best she could on the proposal. She won some and she lost some.
Today Massachusetts is, depending on the source, ranked more towards the middle nationally as far as individual and family tax burden goes. Without Barbara Anderson and the other government fiscal responsibility warriors out there I shudder to think of where we would be ranked today.
As you read this, municipal officials statewide are preparing budgets to present to their respective legislative bodies. You can bet that Barbara Anderson is on their minds as they work to fit their needs within the framework of Proposition 2 1/2.
Over the last forty years many a creative mind has worked to find a way to get around the limits that they are faced with when it comes to raising residential and commercial property taxes. The most recent creation to affect us here in Salem was the Community Tax Preservation (CPA) ballot initiative which passed the voters after multiple attempts.
Barbara Anderson was a political force to be reckoned with by all. Those that she opposed may have detested her positions but across the board they respected he as a foe who came ready for battle
You were a true warrior Barbara. You will be missed but will never truly be gone. We, the taxpayers celebrate your life and accomplishments, offer condolences to your family and friends, and will always honor you for what you did for us and our families.