2010 Ballot Questions

My “Information for Voters” pamphlet from Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin arrived in the mail last week. Among other things, the booklet contains information about the three ballot questions that will appear on the ballot at the November 2, 2010 state election. Here’s a summary of each of the questions:

QUESTION 1 – Sales Tax on Alcoholic Beverages
“This proposed law would remove the Massachusetts sales tax on alcoholic beverages and alcohol.” A YES vote would remove the sales tax. A NO vote would make no change in the state sales tax on alcoholic beverages and alcohol.

QUESTION 2 – Comprehensive Permits for Low- or Moderate-Income Housing
“This proposed law would repeal an existing state law that allows a qualified organization wishing to build government-subsidized housing that includes low- or moderate-income units to apply for a single comprehensive permit from a city or town’s zoning board of appeals, instead of separate permits from each local agency having jurisdiction over any aspect of the proposed housing. A YES vote would repeal the state law allowing the issuance of a single comprehensive permit to build housing that includes low- or moderate-income units. A NO vote would make no change in the state law allowing issuance of such a comprehensive permit.

QUESTION 3 – Sales and Use Tax Rates
“This proposed law would reduce the state sales and use tax rates (which were 6.25% as of September 2009) to 3% as of January 1, 2011. A YES vote would reduce the state sales and use tax rates to 3%. A NO vote would make no change in the state sales and use tax rates.

Other important information contained in the pamphlet included:

    The deadline to register to vote is Wednesday, October 13, 2010.
    If you registered to vote by mail or if there is any question about your identity, then you may be asked to present identification at the polling place (so bring your drivers license with you).

For more information about the upcoming state election, check out the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s website.

8 Responses to 2010 Ballot Questions

  1. Greg Page says:

    I haven’t made up my mind yet on Question #3, but the extremist debate surrounding it definitely bothers me. I’d like to think I can be something *other* than a heartless conservative or a mindless liberal.

    Pieces like the Derrick Z. Jackson op-ed in the Globe today (and linked on RSOL) spell out the doom and gloom that will come to our neediest cities and citizens should this pass. I don’t dispute the numbers, or that people would be hurt by this…but at the same time, that type of rhetoric completely shields the government from setting us up for financial disaster in the first place. It just says that if I, John Q. Voter, select this, then I must have no soul.

    The uber-conservative types are rallying behind it because they subscribe to the “all taxes are bad” mantra. Well, all taxes definitely AREN’T bad, and yes, we all do rely on public services like the police, fire, teachers, military, regulators, etc. Just like the air we breathe, we’d especially realize how important they are if we had to go without them.

    But now how about some common sense from the middle? The major problem that government has created — particularly on the state and federal levels — is the out-of-control, runaway pay and benefit increases in the public sector. Eventually, the brakes have to be put on that problem before we can fix these budgetary woes.

    It shouldn’t be a question of whether I *like* or *support* police or fire. Of course I do. My heart is with all those people, as it is with anyone who devotes his or her career to urban education or any other service. I don’t want to see those people laid off or see residents go without services — but I also can’t stand this false choice being posed between Left and Right.

    Let’s say I lived in a little town with a $1.5 million budget for police salaries. I don’t need a Math Ph.D. to tell me that could get me 30 cops at 50k apiece on average…or it could get me, say, 10 cops for 150k each. If I want to both a) employ police officers, and b) offer more protection, I’m going to take that first option. But if I keep offering more and more compensation to those 30 men and women, either my budget has to grow or I have to make layoffs. Now put that on a much bigger scale, factor in other benefits and the unfunded liabilities from coming retirement goodies — something’s going to give.

    It IS sad, as Derrick Z. Jackson and others have pointed out, that if this resolution passes (and if it were actually enacted, another tall order), cities will lose emergency services. But whose fault is that? I think it’s way more complicated than simply pointing the finger at the people who vote in favor.

    Lawmakers have tied their own hands with year after year of automatic pay, benefit, and pension boosts for the public sector, and it’s going to wind up hurting us unless we address it head on.

  2. joe from Lowell says:

    If Question 3 passes, three things will happen: local aid will be cut, local property taxes will be raised to cover the shortfall, and the poorest communities (that need the most help) will be unable to make up the money because you can’t get blood from a stone.

  3. Jack Mitchell says:

    Using my daughter’s laptop, last night.

    Amen, Joe.

    Burden shifting is what GOPers do best. Why fund the VA to take care of PTSD? Let the families of returning veterans bear the burden of their returning loved one. That is “smaller gubmint,” in a nutshell.

  4. Greg Page says:

    Jack, I was excited when I saw that you had commented on this thread…and then I saw this drivel and threw my hands up in frustration.

    No one here is saying let’s not fund the VA or let’s not treat PTSD. By going straight for the “straw man” you’re just proving my point from earlier about the way partisans paint questions like this as “good versus bad.”

    YES we should have a Fire Department, a Police Department, a National Guard, and state services. And as someone whose family will likely be absent a loved one for 2011, I’m aware that the VA and the Yellow Ribbon services are crucial. It’s precisely BECAUSE I want all of those things that I’m worried about us all going over a cliff in a barrel.

    I have three words for you: California, California, and California. A look at their budget crisis should quickly sober up anyone who thinks that we shouldn’t bother ourselves with questioning public sector salaries and benefits.

    If you can read into that and see partisanship, you’re a step ahead of me.

  5. Jack Mitchell says:

    It’s easy to say we need cops and firemen. What of librarians and social workers? As our population grows, so do the margins that rely on gov’t support. You have heard Manager Lynch say, “as things get worse, the need for city services go UP, not down.” Even the “productive” aspects of our society, like real estate developers, need gov’t to apply the building codes, ect. Gov’t is the lubricant that keeps our economic engine humming. Your experiences abroad should help you to this realization.

    Yet, every GOPer from A-Z parrots, “cut taxes.” Didn’t we just live under the Bush tax cuts? Show me the wealth created in the middle class, please.

    Pardon my terse approach. I’d love to be all collaborative and bipartisany. But the torches and pitchforks crowd, scaring the bejesus out of moderate GOPers who dare to vote in favor of anything in this Congress, make it impossible.

    There is no middle between D & R. All the middle is within the Democratic Party. We span from the far left to the center Right. From Dennis Kucinich to Jim Webb. The sooner Independents are clear on that, the sooner America can move forward.

    Nothing I’ve said advocates for gross fiscal misconduct. I’m simply saying, Republican governance is a lie designed to redistribute wealth from the many to the few.Why do GOPers hate gov’t? Consider the City of Lowell’s payscale, from the lowest paid fulltime worker to the highest paid worker. What multiple is it? 5x? 6x? 7x?

    What is that multiple at Wal-Mart? At Exxon-Mobile? At AIG?

    We need city services. They need to make a living wage. Do the math, because we can’t do without.

  6. Greg Page says:

    …and it’s precisely BECAUSE I want us to have librarians, and social workers, and paved roads, etc. that I worry about the mess in California making its way here. Look what happened in Vallejo, CA when the public sector unions strangled the city — emergency service workers were laid off, violent crime skyrocketed, and the municipality couldn’t respond.

    All the middle is held by ONE party? C’mon…let’s grab lunch today in Wakefield. I will print out the article about Vallejo and bring it.

  7. Jack Mitchell says:

    I’m glad to read the article. Can you also bring something that shows the Bush tax cuts put money in my pocket? I’m not talking Dunkin Donuts money or the $200 rebate he borrowed from China to give us.

    See you at noon.