Response to Tom Pelham

To the Editor:

Remind me not to go hunting with Tom Pelham, who seems to believe "shoot first, aim later" is the proper order of things.

In a recent op-ed published in the Record, Mr. Pelham asserts I "slipped language into a bill giving legislative staff access to 'state returns and return information'" on May 13, just one day before the Legislature adjourned for the year. If Mr. Pelham had made any attempt to contact me, which he did not, I could have spared him making such a sloppy mistake.

The Senate Finance Committee proposed language allowing the Tax Department to provide confidential, non-identifying tax data to the Legislature's non-partisan Joint Fiscal Office on April 18th. The language was included in a publicly available draft bill that was provided to a wide array of interests in the state house - legislators from both political parties, lobbyists of all sorts, and other interested people. The language, which the committee always intended to clearly preserve the confidentiality of tax information and the privacy of taxpayers, was discussed in open sessions in the committee room on a number of occasions. Then the language passed in a bi-partisan vote on the Senate floor, again a most public setting.

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