Tuesday November 2nd is election day. The outcome of this election will say a lot about who we are and what role government will play in our lives. Two key matters on the ballot rise above all others.
Question 3: There is no more important public policy question on this year’s ballot than Question 3. If approved, Question 3 would roll back the state sales tax from 6.25% to 3%. It’s a popular idea. No one likes paying taxes. But this rollback would cost the Commonwealth about $2.5 billion in lost revenue. It comes at a time when state revenues are already dramatically reduced due to the recession. In FY ’11 we already face a $2 billion budget gap, even after cutting thousands of state jobs and $3 billion from our state budget.
If Question 3 is popular, it’s also a disaster for those who want services…police and fire protection, good schools, reliable mass transit and more. For those who work to protect the environment, further budget reductions would paralyze us. The total environmental budget for the Commonwealth currently represents less than 1% of the overall state budget. We have already taken disproportionate cuts in environmental agencies such as DEP, DCR and others. If revenues decline and budgets are cut further, we jeopardize the very essence of environmental protection.
Governor’s race: ELM is nonpartisan. But we do care about public policy. Joining with our colleagues in the environmental community, ELM co-hosted a Gubernatorial Forum on Energy and the Environment earlier this year. We were surprised by the differences on serious issues that affect the environment.
While ELM is deeply committed to combating global warming, only Governor Patrick and Dr. Jill Stein indicated support for economy- wide measures to reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions.
Finally, there were sharp disagreements on fiscal policy. Both Charlie Baker and Tim Cahill advocate rollbacks in both the sales and income tax. With these further reductions in revenue, where will additional cuts in services be made? How will we protect the environment?
Question 3 and the outcome of the Governor’s race will have a critical impact on our future and the protection of our environment. We urge you to do your homework and research these issues. Most importantly, as Democrats, Republicans and Independents, we urge you to vote on November 2nd.
George Bachrach is ELM’s President