I think I’ll do a blog series on my thoughts on the five ballot questions that I’ll be voting on this coming Tuesday. (If you want to see if your town has added questions to the three statewide ones, plug your address into the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’s Election Division Voting Info site.)
Question #1 is about repealing the state income tax. I’m wholeheartedly for voting for this question. I think the main goal of getting it to pass is to force the Legislature to take a hard look at its programs, and cut those that it really doesn’t need. I think that the 40% reduction in their budget is possible, but I’m expecting that they won’t actually reduce things that much. I mean, there was a ballot initiative that passed in 2000 to lower the income tax from 5.85% to 5.0%, and the Legislature basically ignored it, although they did eventually slowly lower it to the current 5.3%. (Although, you can still voluntarily pay 5.85% if you want. I always get a chuckle out of that check box on the state tax form.) So, it seems unlikely that they’ll actually just keep all other taxes the same and cut the 40% of the budget. But I bet they’ll cut some things, overall taxes will be somewhat lower than they are now, and it at least sends a message that we’re tired of paying for expensive government programs that don’t work. I hope that this will increase transparency of our state government, as they publicly demonstrate what is and isn’t important to them.
I’m really not sure what the question’s actual chance of passage is. In 2002, this was on the ballot and got 45% of the vote, which was more than I think most observers were expecting. We just need 5 more percentage points. But there’s been a lot more publicized opposition to it this time, especially from the teacher’s union. (Like the politicians are actually going to cut school funding? They’ll threaten it to get you to vote against it, but I don’t think they’ll actually do it.) So, I tend to doubt it will pass this time. But, I was pleasantly surprised last time when it got 45%, so I hope I’m pleasantly surprised this time and it’s higher than that. (And even if it doesn’t pass, if more than 45% of people vote for it, it will hopefully send some sort of message to the Legislature.)