To the Editor:
The three statewide ballot questions will hurt people —in very concrete ways.
Question One, which will repeal the tax on alcohol, will not only eliminate about $110 million from our state budget, but will eliminate state funding programs that address substance abuse. It will disproportionately promote more alcohol consumption among young people, as their consumption is more price-sensitive. We are already losing too many of our youth to alcoholism and other addictions.
Question Two will repeal chapter 40B, the state’s key affordable housing law, which promotes privately built affordable housing and is responsible for more than 80 percent of the affordable housing built in Massachusetts over the last decade. Also, it promotes a fairer distribution of that housing and avoids building all affordable units in isolated neighborhoods. The need for affordable housing on the Vineyard is well known.
Question Three will cut the sales tax by more than half. This will add to the state’s deficit by more than $2.5 billion. When added to an existing $2 billion deficit projection, discretionary state spending will be cut by nearly 40 percent. State support for education, police, social services will have to be slashed. Further, this will seriously risk our bond rating, raising debt service obligations. Our sales tax is relatively fair and progressive. About half the states have approximately the same rate as we do, or higher, and unlike Massachusetts, about half do not exempt food.
It is not broadly understood, but when all state and local taxes and fees are taken together as a percent of income, our overall tax burden is already well below the national average. And, while one might not expect large business associations to oppose tax cuts, the three largest ones in Massachusetts oppose Question Three. Question Three is a reckless proposal.
So we must vote no on all three ballot questions.
Martha’s Vineyard Community Services