I knew him professionally from the beginning of his political career: CLT’s political action committee supported him for state representative and state senator. As a legislator, he filed and carried our tax cut and tax limitation bills, supported Prop 2½, led various legislative reform battles.
When he was running for lieutenant governor with Bill Weld in 1990, CLT had a question on the same ballot to repeal the Dukakis tax hikes of 1989-90. Weld/Cellucci endorsed this ballot campaign, which became even a tougher battle than Prop 2 ½ had been; they never wavered even when it became obvious to almost everyone but me that it was going to lose.
Looking back, I can see that voters decided the tax cuts “went too far,” but the issue helped elect the governor and lieutenant governor who soon got the sales tax on services repealed and continued to argue for the income tax rate to return to its traditional 5 percent.
In 1997, CLT did another petition drive, this one just to roll back the income tax rate over three years. The Massachusetts Teachers Association challenged the signatures, and we didn’t have enough to get on the ballot. Discouraged, we just filed the rollback as a bill. At its legislative hearing in 1999, Paul Cellucci, now the governor, marched dramatically into the hearing room to announce that if the legislature didn’t pass it, he would lead a petition drive himself to get it on the 2000 ballot.
This was the first I’d heard of this plan. All eyes, including those of Statehouse reporters, turned to me, wondering if CLT would resent his taking charge? Actually, I wondered if it would be undignified to do cheerleading cartwheels across the hearing room floor.
We teamed up, CLT with its volunteers and prior experience with petition drives, Gov. Cellucci with paid petitioners funded by donations from Cellucci supporters and another longtime ally, the Mass. High Technology Council. This time there were too many signatures to be challenged, and we made it to the 2000 ballot.