October 27, 2008
Election Day is only a week away, and while most of the attention is focused on the presidential race, on November 4, Massachusetts voters will weigh in on three ballot questions. In addition to taking a stance on marijuana possession and dog racing, (Questions 2 and 3), Question 1 will ask voters to determine the fate of the state income tax.
Let’s look at the facts. Income taxes account for $12 billion or roughly 40 percent of the state budget. A repeal of the state income tax would let an executive with a $200,000 salary collect more than $200 a week, while a full-time minimum wage worker would only get $16 a week.
But what exactly would happen if in just two years the state’s budget was reduced by 40 percent? According to the Coalition for Our Communities, we would see a sharp increase in property taxes as well as other fees that affect lower income families the most. The cost of living would spike, hitting those in lower income communities and communities of color the hardest. Cuts in education would mean less funding for our public schools as well as teacher lay-offs and even school closings in some areas. It would also affect funding for healthcare, law enforcement, and infrastructure (roads, bridges, etc.) as well as the state’s job market in general – a deathwish to the state’s already fragile economy.
Two weeks ago, Governor Deval Patrick announced that he would be slashing more than $1 billion from the state budget to help fix the troubled economy. Funding for healthcare alone will slash $293 million and will account for nearly one-third of the entire budget cut. Vital programs such as education, law enforcement and programs for the elderly and youth will also be slashed, and more than 1,000 jobs are expected to be lost. Protests are rising over the removal of this $1 billion. Can you imagine how the state will cope with the loss of $12 billion?
The economy is already struggling and there is no need to make matters worse. Measures must be taken against reckless spending not only on a state level, but national as well. However, the sudden removal of $12 billion from the state budget would be a disastrous, irresponsible and shortsighted move. Vote NO on Question 1 this November to ensure safe and healthy communities for all. See our blog in the next few days for more information about the effects of Question 1 on environmental justice issues.