Democratic House members held a caucus June 2 at the request of Gov. Joseph Ely to consider the Ways and Means Committee’s tax program, the Boston Globe reported (June 3, 1932, pp. 1, 17).
Rep. Birmingham read a communication from Ely to the House Democratic caucus urging it to support the committee’s tax program. However, the caucus voted not to accept the program in its entirety.
The committee’s tax program included an additional $2 poll tax, salary reductions for state and county employees, and a 10 percent supplement on income taxes.
Eli also said in the communication that if the caucus could not support the plan, it should formulate its own tax program.
The caucus then took up individual items in the committee's plan. The caucus voted down the provision for a state and county employee pay reduction, but it approved a 10 percent increase on personal income, corporation, and public utility taxes.
The caucus voted in favor of a more sweeping proposal to increase by 10 percent all taxes and license fees imposed by the state, which would automatically take in the 10 percent tax increase on the personal income, corporate, and public utility taxes.
In his communication, Ely expressed opposition to a proposal by Rep. Pratt to put a tax on stocks and bonds and other forms of intangibles. Rep. Pratt had proposed a bill that would have provided for a $20 million state bond issue to assist cities and towns in public welfare relief as a substitute for the committee’s tax plan.
The caucus appointed a committee of seven to make a report to Gov Ely about its recommendations. Committee members included Reps. Birmingham, Charles H. Slowey of Lowell, Patrick Moore of Pittsfield, John V. Mahoney of Boston, Timothy J. Cronin of Cambridge, Joseph P. White of Boston, Paul A. Dever of Cambridge, and Frank E. Rafter of Salem.
The alternative tax program proposed by the Democratic caucus included taking $2 million from the gasoline tax receipts or highway fund to provide public welfare relief to the cities and towns, imposing a 10 percent tax on the total amount of all income taxes paid, a 10 percent tax on all fees collected by the state, and an excise tax of 1 cent on every 10 cigarettes.
Rep. Birmingham opposed taking power away from the Boston City Council to grant permits, during a Jan. 22 hearing of the Legislative Committee on Legal Affairs (Boston Globe, Jan 23, 1929, p. 1, 8).
The committee was considering two bills that would take the power to grant permits for Sunday professional sports away from the City Council.
One bill, sponsored by Rep. A. B. Casson, would give the power for issuing permits to the mayor, Boston Police Commissioner, and the Chief Justice of the Municipal Court. The other bill, sponsored by Rep. George Gilman, would give the power to Boston Licensing Board with approval of the Police Commissioner.
Sen. Robert E. Bigney of South Boston spoke in opposition to the bills and commented on the so-called Sunday baseball scandal. “The chairman of the Boston Finance Commission deserves a vote of public censure for announcing the names of 12 men without any evidence to back up the charges. Such announcement branded them in the eyes of the public,” said Bigney.
Birmingham testified that he was opposed in principle to taking power from elected officials.
City Councilor Israel Ruby said: “The people, when they voted in favor of the measure, showed they desired to have the City Council make rules and regulations governing Sunday sports. It is not fair for the legislature to take away what they did not see fit to give the people at the last session. Why should Boston be discriminated against in this manner? There was no hue and cry when other communities failed to accept the act. We accepted the act,” he said.
Councilor John F. Dowd of Roxbury added that the people who voted for the referendum knew the council would issue the permits. “But now the legislature wants to step in and take away what little power is left.”