Saturday, October 11, 2008

Vote No on Question 1 in Mass.

This country's founding fathers set up a system of government that in some ways insulates the people from decision making. Done on purpose, our system ensures that the masses are represented, and not that the masses make decisions. The opposite approach, illustrated by the fabled New England Town Meeting, gives everyone a vote, and lets the population decide.

Growing up in a farm town in Connecticut, we had town meetings. Everyone would gather in the elementary school gym, and everyone would vote, up or down, on the budget. I was able to go to one such meeting before I moved to Boston to go to college. They are pretty neat.

Question 1 on this year's Massachusetts ballot demonstrates to me how our founding fathers were right, and how the masses can cause problems for our system. Question 1 eliminates the state income tax, stripping billions (with a b) of dollars out of the state budget. I am voting "no" on question 1, and I hope my neighbors across the state will do the same.

The fact that Question 1 is on the ballot is concerning. After all, to an average Joe-Six-Pack voter, of course you would vote to get rid of the income tax. It gives the people back a lot of money. It makes the politicians work to cut the budget to make the difference. With the broader economy uncertain, as an understatement, money in everyone's pocket is just what the doctor ordered.

Except were not talking about a modest cut here. We're talking about a question that would eliminate more than 12 billion dollars-- 40-percent-- of the state budget. The only way Massachusetts would make the difference is with significant cuts to cities and towns; and those cities and towns would have to raise their property taxes significantly.

Also, passing Question 1 is not a statement; if the question passed it would become binding. It would become the law of the state. The devastating affect on schools and our state's infrastructure is frankly unimaginable. In addition, passing the question would lead to job losses-- state workers who would be laid off.

In other posts on this blog, I have expressed disappointment with proposals by some of our state politicians on how to fix the budget problems in Massachusetts. Casinos, for example, are a band-aid approach. And while I do not have answers to the budget problems myself, stripping 40-percent of the state budget is not the answer either. It does not send a statement. Instead, it punishes everyone, including our children.

Question 1, in and of itself, is a reason to vote in November, even though the fate of the Presidential election here is not in doubt.

Last week, I volunteered to make some phone calls asking neighbors to vote NO on question 1. Thankfully, all those I spoke to understood that there is only one word that can characterize the question, and that word is "reckless."

If you live in Massachusetts, please vote NO on Question 1 this November.


Rachel F said...

Amen...I'm hopeful though...Josh has even said it would be insane!

Park Street Rambler said...

Having been a teacher in my previous career, I could not agree more! We must vote NO on Question 1 if we want our children to receive a quality education. An income tax repeal would be devastating, crippling not just education, but other crucial services including programs for seniors, state-funded health services, homeless shelter programs, public libraries, etc. Do the right thing -- Vote NO.