The Official 1998 Massachusetts Ballot Questions

A Message from the
Secretary of the Commonwealth

Offices on the 1998 Ballot

The 1998 Ballot Questions:

Question 1:
Setting Compensation
of State Legislators

Question 2:
Public Campaign Financing

Question 3:
Tax Rate on Interest
and Dividend Income

Question 4:
Electric Utility Industry

Contact Information for Ballot Questions...

Checklist for Election Day

Published by
William Francis Galvin
Secretary of the Commonwealth
Elections Division
One Ashburton Place, Room 1705
Boston, MA 02108
Telephone: (617) 727-2828
Toll-free: 1-800-462-VOTE (in Massachusetts only)
Fax: (617) 742-3238
updated 10/8/98

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QUESTION 2: LAW PROPOSED BY INITIATIVE PETITION... Public Campaign  Financing... Do you approve of a law summarized below, on which no vote was taken by the Senate or the House of Representatives before May 6, 1998? 



A YES VOTE would change the laws governing public financing of campaigns.
would make no change in the laws governing public financing of campaigns.


(As required by law, summaries are written by the state Attorney General, and the = statements describing the effect of a "yes" or "no" vote are written jointly by the State Attorney General and the Secretary of the Commonwealth.)

This proposed law would create a new voluntary system allowing candidates for state office who agree to campaign spending limits and $100 contribution limits to receive a set amount of public funds for their campaigns, starting with the 2002 election. The proposed law would also limit transfers of money from national political parties to state political parties for administrative, overhead, or party-building activities. It would also require candidates for state office who had raised or spent at least a set minimum amount in an election cycle to file their required campaign finance reports with the state electronically, and the public would have prompt electronic access to such reports.
The new funding system would replace the existing system of limited public financing of campaigns for statewide office. To participate in the new system, a candidate would have to raise a minimum number of contributions from registered voters in the relevant district, as follows: Governor, 6000; Lt. Governor, Attorney General, or Treasurer, 3000; Secretary of State or Auditor, 2000; Executive Councillor, 400; State Senator, 450; State Representative, 200. Such contributions would have to be between $5 and $100 and be collected during a limited period: for statewide candidates beginning on August 1 of the year before the election, for other candidates beginning on January 1 of the election year, and for all candidates ending on the last day to file nomination papers with the Secretary of State.
For any election, a participating candidate could not accept contributions of more than $100 from any person or political committee and could not raise or spend any money other than these contributions and public funds.
Candidates meeting all of these requirements would, subject to appropriation by the Legislature, receive public funding in the primary and general elections. This would come from a new state Clean Elections Fund, consisting of amounts voluntarily contributed through the checkoff on the state income tax return, any amounts appropriated by the Legislature, and any money in the existing state election campaign fund.
The chart below shows the amounts of public funds a candidate could receive in the primary and general elections. A candidate could raise and spend private contributions in order to bring his or her spending up to the spending limit shown below.


Primary Election:
Public Funds
Primary Election:
Spending Limit
General Election: 
Public Funds
 General Election: 
Spending Limit
Governor $1,500,000 $1,800,000 $1,050,000 $1,200,000
Lt. Governor $383,000 $450,000 $255,000 $300,000
Attorney General or Treasurer $360,000 $450,000 $240,000 $300,000
Secretary of State or Auditor $120,000 $150,000 $80,000 $100,000
Councillor $19,000 $24,000 $13,000 $16,000
Senator $43,000 $54,000 $29,000 $36,000
Representative $15,000 $18,000  $9,000 $12,000

A participating candidate running unopposed would receive only half the listed amount of public funds and could spend correspondingly less than a candidate with an opponent. All funds could be spent only for campaign purposes. Any unspent public funds from a primary or general election would have to be returned after that election. A participating candidate who violated the contribution or spending limits would have to return all public funds, become ineligible for further funds, and in some cases pay fines.
Candidates who do not accept public funds would have to report any spending in excess of the limit shown above and could be fined for failing to do so. If such a non-participating candidate spent more than the limit, participating candidates in that race would immediately receive, and could spend, public "matching funds" equal to the amount of the excess spending. The total amount of public funding (including matching funds) a candidate could receive would be limited to twice the spending limit for that race. During the general election campaign, running mates for Governor and Lt. Governor would be treated as teams in order to determine the distribution of any matching funds.
An individual or political committee's total in-kind contributions (such as goods and some services) to a participating candidate would be limited to $500 per election. Higher limits would govern political parties' in-kind contributions. Participating candidates could not accept more than a set amount in such contributions, ranging from $3,000 per election for Representative up to $35,000 for Governor.
The expenditure, contribution, and public funding limits would be adjusted every two years for inflation. A special commission (including elected officials and private citizens) would be set up to meet every two years to review the system and recommend any needed changes. The state Director of Campaign Finance could issue regulations to interpret and enforce the proposed law.
The proposed law states that if any of its parts were declared invalid, the rest of the law would stay in effect.


(As provided by law, the 150-word arguments are written by proponents and opponents of each question, and reflect their opinions. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts does not endorse these arguments, and does not certify the truth or accuracy of any statement made in these arguments. The names of the individuals and organizations who wrote each argument, and any written comments by others about each argument, are on file in the Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth.)

IN FAVOR: We all know what's wrong: Wealthy special interests have too much political influence. Campaigns cost too much money. Politicians spend too much time raising money instead of listening to voters. And good people can't afford to run for office.
A Yes vote on Question 2 reduces the influence of big money in Massachusetts politics. It sets strict limits on campaign spending and contributions, and levels the playing field for all candidates. And it bans "soft money."
Despite misrepresentations by opponents of reform, this law strictly limits any public election financing to less than one-tenth of one percent of the state budget.
Endorsed by the League of Women Voters and Mass Voters for Clean Elections, it's the best way to clean up politics in Massachusetts and send a strong message to Washington, too.
If we want campaign finance reform now, it's up to us. Vote Yes on Question 2.

AGAINST: This petition would take taxpayer dollars and spend those dollars on private political campaigns. It would give public money to all political candidates for the purpose of purchasing campaign materials. The proposal would take millions of dollars from education, health care, child care, and public safety.
Taxpayers should not be expected to pay for the career ambitions of every political candidate in Massachusetts. It would be far preferable to let each candidate raise and publicly report their own campaign funds. Taxpayer dollars should be limited to essential public activities and projects.
This petition would eliminate the freedom of taxpayers to donate to candidates of their choice and compel a contribution of public monies for every announced candidate. The petition is fundamentally flawed in its claim of priority for the use of public funds. It will be very expensive and it is entirely unnecessary. It should be rejected.


(Note: There is no Minority Report for this ballot question)

A majority of the Joint Committee on Ways and Means emphatically rejects this petition. This initiative will cause an enormous increase in taxpayer dollars being spent on private political campaigns. Although regulation of campaign finance is an important goal, a majority of the Joint Committee believes that there are more effective methods and that there are far more important uses of limited public money.
Massachusetts is a national leader in campaign finance reform and in 1994 the Massachusetts Legislature passed the progressive reforms that are law today. Under our current law, candidates for state office must fully disclose all campaign finances, the size of individual contributions is strictly limited, and candidates for several offices can choose to accept spending limits in exchange for limited public financing. This petition will dramatically increase the costs to the public. Even fringe candidates would be able to lay claim to taxpayers' money to support the costs of their campaigns. The supporters of this petition estimate the increase at $45 million dollars - five times what we pay today. Our policy is to support effective reforms that do not place additional or disproportionate burdens on taxpayers.
The current system allows Massachusetts taxpayers to voluntarily contribute to the Clean Elections Fund by checking a $1 donation box on their state tax form. In 1997, only 1 in 10 taxpayers elected to contribute to the fund which currently stands at less than $2 million dollars. If the supporters of this bill are correct, the legislature will have to spend approximately $56 million dollars in taxpayers' money to pay for private political campaigns in 1998. As legislators, we have two choices: vote to increase taxes or take away funding from other meaningful programs such as education, childcare, affordable housing, public safety, and healthcare. We are uncomfortable with either choice. For these reasons, the majority of the Joint Committee on Ways and Means rejects the initiative.

Robert E. Travaglini
Charles E. Shannon
James P. Jajuga
Edward J. Clancy, Jr.
Robert A. Antonioni
Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr.
Mark C. Montigny
Bruce E. Tarr

J. Michael Ruane
Maryanne Lewis
Anthony M. Scibelli
Anthony P. Giglio
Bradley H. Jones, Jr.
Emanuel G. Serra
Brian S. Dempsey
Vincent P. Ciampa
Thomas P. Kennedy
Kevin Poirier
John A. Lepper
Paul R. Haley
Harriett L. Stanley
Paul Kujawski
William C. Galvin
John J. Binienda
Louis L. Kafka
Robert F. Fennell
Shaun P. Kelly
Jo Ann Sprague