All of our state’s voters will find four referenda on their November 4th ballots. We now make our recommendations for a vote on each.
Question One : Should the Indexing of the state’s gas tax be repealed ?
Our vote : NO.
When the legislature last year enacted the first gas tax hike in 18 years — three cents a gallon, less than one percent of the gallon price — it included an inflation adjustment feature, so that as the cost of living goes up, and the price of repairing roads and bridges with it, the gas tax woiuld not fall behind, forcing the state to borrow the difference. Those who seek to repeal the automatic indexing — who want a vote on every hike in the tax — say they that it represents a tax increase without a vote, something not allowed by our state constitution.
This is a false argument. All that indexing does is to keep the taxed dollars in line with their relationship to the costs for which the tax is being assessed.
Drivers do not drive less because the cost of living goes up. Why should the state be forced to borrow money — upon which taxpayers pay the interest, so that the out of pocket result is the same as indexing — to repair the roads and bridges that dtrivers use ?
Question 2 : Expand the bottle bill
Our Vote ; Yes
This ballot question will extend the five cent refund, now attached to liquor and some tonics, to all bottled drinks. The “no” argument is that it will increase the cost of these drinks. The “yes” argument is the better. It will add these containers to the bottles that scavengers now hunt vigorously, for a hard-won income, providing the taxpayer with a no-cost recycling machine, as opposed to the costly recycling that many cities and towns pay contractors to do.
Question 3 : should the state’s casino law be repealed ?
Our Vote : No
Casino repeal is the last stand for those who have a moral objection to your spending your money on gambling at casinos. They adduce other arguments — crime, traffic, gambling addiction — but those already exist, if they do, at keno parlors and lottery stores, which abound, fully legal without much objection. Meanwhile, the three casinos planned for Massachusetts will add thousands of jobs to the low-income cities in which they will be sited and offer hard-working residents of our state fun and entertainment. Lastly, right now almost $ 7 billion in Massachusetts money goes to Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun casinos in Connecticut. Our new casinos will keep much of that money right here in-state.
Question 4 ; Paid Sick Leave
Our vote : Yes
By this question, employees of businesses with eleven employees or mote will earn paid sick leave, accruing to them after 30 hours of work. There is a question whether it will apply to part-time employees; but for the one million employees to whom this referendum clearly applies, paid sick leave grants a benefit that almost every first world nation accords to full time workers.
And why not ? Why should a worker be penalized because he or she gets sick ? Or, why should a worker feel that he or she has to go to work sick because he or she can’t afford to lose a day’s pay ?
—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere