Massachusetts Ballot Initiatives

This question would cut the income tax rate in Massachusetts in half, from 5.3 percent to 2.65 percent for 2009 and completely eliminate it in 2010. This represents $12 billion of the $27 billion state budget.

While this is Massachusetts and there are certainly numerous examples of government waste, this is the quintessential example of addressing the problem with a hatchet rather than a scalpel. State services such as Medicaid, funding for local public schools and emergency services would be slashed if this proposal were to pass, forcing property taxes up significantly to make up the shortfall. This will hit the poorest school districts the hardest, increase wait times for 911 calls, and lead to reduced funding for healthcare of seniors and people with disabilities.

Waste needs to be eliminated from the state budget by vigilant citizens pressuring their elected officials, not by blindly slashing the state budget by almost half.

Vote NO on Question 1.

This question would replace existing criminal penalties for possession of less than one ounce of marijuana with civil penalties of $100.

Currently, offenders face up to six months in prison, a $500 fine, and a permanent criminal record. It is estimated that $29.5 million per year is spent on enforcement of the law on low level arrests for possession, not to mention the time and money spent by the state on the court system and subsequent jail time for convicted offenders. This ballot initiative would mandate penalties in addition to the $100 fine for minors caught with marijuana, including mandatory participation in a drug awareness program, parental notification, and 10 hours of community service.

A 1993 study in The Social Sciences Journal found that there is no evidence decriminalization of marijuana affects its frequency of use. Additionally, multiple studies have found that rates of other drug use among emergency room patients are significantly higher in states that have criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana, indicating criminalization of marijuana encourages use of more dangerous drugs.

Massachusetts jails are filled with low level drug offenders whose only crime was possession of marijuana, often lumped in with more serious criminals such as sex offenders and murderers. Additionally, those convicted of possession will have the charges listed permanently on their criminal record, an injustice that serves as an impediment to getting a job, a loan, or a house for the rest of their lives.

Even if you stand opposed to use of marijuana, decriminalization makes sense.

Vote YES on Question 2.

This question would prohibit gambling on dog races, effectively shutting down the two existing dog racing tracks in the state.

Dog racing is an unnecessary form cruelty to animals. Dogs are forced to live in inhuman conditions in small cages for 20 hours a day without being able to move around. Dogs suffer significant and often lethal injures at racetracks, often becoming paralyzed as a result of the races. Dog racing as a gambling industry is already on the decline. Because of the lack of revenue, legislators often give special privileges to the industry such as direct subsidies, an unnecessary drain on state funds. There is no reason to continue this cruel practice.

Vote YES on Question 3.