As summarized by Commonwealth Secretary of State William Francis Galvin:
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. It would make the same reduction in the rate used to determine the amount to be deposited with the state Commissioner of Revenue by non-resident building contractors as security for the payment of sales and use tax on tangible personal property used in carrying out their contracts.In other words, it would cut the sales tax from the recently increased rate of 6.25% to 3%, which is once was, before it was increased at a time we were promised that the initial increase was made.
I will not bore you with Carla Howell's argument for the rollback, aside from saying that she thinks that freeing up money to go into the economy will create more jobs and thus more wealth. However, here is the published argument against this initiative on the part of some of your fellow citizens.
AGAINST: The sales tax helps pay for things we all value and rely on. We all want good schools, police and fire protection, safe roads and bridges, clean water and quality health care. Cutting the sales tax by more than half will prevent us from achieving these goals we share.Before I get into my view on this, let us stop and ask ourselves if we actually believe this argument against rollback of the sales tax. Is there anyone out there who actually believes the General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts will allow the vote of the People to influence them? Is there any history to suggest that the House and Senate on Beacon hill are sensitive to the views of the People, as long as the People keep putting them back in office? Does anyone remember the Initiative for publicly funded elections, from about a decade ago?
Our communities rely on local aid to pay for schools, public safety, and emergency services. Local aid has already been cut by 25 percent in the last two years, forcing communities to reduce services. This proposal would result in further cutbacks.
This proposal would take away $2.5 billion in state revenue. This is about half the total amount the state sends to our communities each year to help pay for public education.
The recession has forced communities to reduce services. We cannot keep cutting without doing lasting harm to our schools, health care and the services that strengthen our communities.
MA Coalition for Our Communities
20 Ashburton Place
Boston, MA 02108
My conclusion is that if this initiative passed with less than a 75% plurality it would be quickly overridden and trampled into the dust of history. Even if the yea vote is over 75% the survival is iffy.
Now to the issue of should we vote for it. The only reason to vote for it is we are, per capita, the second most indebted state in the Union. The odds of the Legislature finding ways to creatively cut back spending (such as freezing pay increases for state workers at all lvels or being creative about dealing with homelessness, thus providing better help for the homeless and still save money) is between slim and none. Will voting yes change their spending habits? Not likely.
Thus, your vote may well be based upon your sense of whether or not a "YES" vote will send a signal without destroying government services. A "NO" vote will be based upon the idea that either (a) those of us still drawing a check for work or retirement can afford to dig a little deeper or (b) the belief that the Legislators will learn.
I say, the best of luck to all of us in the ballot booth.
UPDATE: Here is a comment on this issue by Boston Globe columnist Derrick Z Jackson. Mr Jackson asks you to vote no.
Regards — Cliff