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Left In Lowell » Blog Archive » Go Vote - And NO On All Three

Left In Lowell

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2013 Candidate Questionnaire Responses!

November 2, 2010

Go Vote - And NO On All Three

by at 8:04 am.

You know what to do today. Go exercise your democratic rights. (Update - find out where you vote and see a ballot preview here!)

Having been so busy lately (teaching, business, etc) I haven’t had much time to post about this election. But suffice to say, I am an enthusiastic NO on all three ballot questions. If any of these pass, we will see a regression in our state, and you will not like the results.

Regarding question one (return of the alcohol exemption) and question three (rollback of the sales tax to 3%), the last thing we need to do in the middle of a time of reduced revenues due to economic woes nationwide is to reduce revenues further by gutting taxes. Yes, math still works the way you were taught in school.

Look, no one loves paying taxes. Everyone would love to have that that $1.25 back on your $20 purchase. However, is that worth seeing more teachers laid off, fewer police, and longer lines at the RMV? We’ve cut the fat, folks, long ago. In fact, Patrick has done a lot to reform the state government - including state transportation department consolidation, which Republican governors have been talking about for years and never accomplished. We’ve started cutting the bone during this recession. Further reducing revenues is suicidal. Forget all the progress we’ve made on jobs, green initiatives, and our kids’ education if we have to cut more essential programs.

With regards to the alcohol tax rollback: don’t listen to the alcohol lobby that you are being “double taxed” on alcohol. What a lot of freaking whining! The excise tax is on volume and is so minuscule, it’s hardly even noticeable - if the excise tax were repealed, prices would hardly change at all. Most other states have a sales tax that applies to alcohol, alongside an excise tax. What the longstanding tax exemption on alcohol was, was a gift and a giveaway. Alcohol is not an essential purchase, so why the hell was it exempt? It should be subject to the same tax that is on all other nonessential goods.

On the sales tax reduction - really, you’re going to save about $3 on a $100 purchase. And remember, sales tax is not applied to most essentials in MA - clothing (unless you buy expensive Gucci) or groceries, for a start. A huge chunk of our discretionary spending budget comes from the sales tax. Is that worth seeing hundreds of teachers laid off? Or unsafe streets? The sales tax cut would be worth a loss of $20 million dollars to Lowell alone, if the cut were applied in full to local aid and Chapter 70 monies from the state. How many city services and school programs do you think $20 million would cut? And since it looks impossible, politically, for Congress to pass another stimulus bill next year, we will be losing the ARRA funding, which has been floating much of our state deficit from reduced tax receipts - our state would be further devastated by the loss of over half the sales tax.

On question 2, the elimination of comprehensive permitting to build affordable housing, also has a regressive result. Of course, many people are frustrated with this law and how it is applied in our communities. However, the repeal of it will have a devastating effect on families who need affordable housing. I don’t have to tell you we have some damned expensive housing costs here in MA. It’s a side effect of our leading-the-nation prosperity. The more people in the middle class and up can afford, the more expensive housing is. The more dense the jobs and opportunity, the more the demand for housing. For those who are in jobs that do not have the same level of opportunity, or for those who are underemployed, disabled, or retired with no savings, the availability of affordable housing is paramount to their survival.

Affecting how difficult is it to build affordable housing in Massachusetts means keeping some families out of the prosperity. That’s not what our state is all about. Maybe the law needs reform (and maybe it doesn’t), but eliminating it is no way to do it. It will only hurt some of our most vulnerable citizens. We’re better than that.

So, I will vote no to all three of the ballot questions. I wish we didn’t have to keep having the same damn debate over revenues and taxes - it’s exhausting to constantly have to defend what is undesirable by any human being. Where’s our ballot question enacting positive initiatives?? But as Governor Patrick has always said, we have to decide what we want government to do, and then decide how to pay for it. Ignoring the reality (and basic math) of the situation to vote for something that feels good now but will hurt us in the long run is just stupid.

16 Responses to “Go Vote - And NO On All Three”

  1. Jeremy Says:


    Sales tax revenues do not pay for local budget items like teachers. That’s what property taxes are for. Your argument, “if the cut were applied in full to local aid and Chapter 70 monies to the state” is not valid - this is not where the cuts will be made. Cuts in the sales tax will force the government to stop wasteful spending, NOT the essentials.

  2. Mr. Lynne Says:

    Seriously? Cuts to local aid don’t affect local budget items because of property taxes? You do know that money is fungible, right?

  3. Lynne Says:

    Right - OK, that makes sense. All sales tax and alcohol tax money goes to waste, and…what did you say? property tax goes to schools and services that we want.

    Do you realize how insane that sounds? “There’s waste fraud and abuse!” “Where?” “Well, I KNOW it’s there, OK??”

    First, the revenues that come from sales and alcohol and other use taxes do not “go to waste.” They go to programs - sometimes earmarked, sometimes to the general fund for other stuff like local aid and schools.

    The FACT was that without an alcohol tax, general fund money had to go to programs to help the addicted, among other things. Who did you think was paying for that before there was a tax on alcohol?? Santa Claus? When they decided to get rid of the unfair tax exemption for alcohol, suddenly a bunch of money was freed up elsewhere to put towards other things like local aid or Chapter 70 (schools).

    If we cut taxes earmarked for specific programs, those programs can’t just be cut. They have to come out of the general fund - or we risk the health and welfare of the state, leaving people in need without specific services. That means dipping back into the general fund, which means less money for roads, schools, bridges, and local aid.

    The whole shebang is essentially a single pool, one way or another - earmarked funds or not. Revenues come in, they get distributed among the programs and the muni’s and the school districts, and a loss of revenue in one arena means pulling it out somewhere else. If you don’t see that it’s all connected, well, that’s because you aren’t thinking it through.

  4. jumpygrouch Says:

    At this web site you can find out the actual dollar amount that your community will lose without the extra percent of sales tax: http://votenoquestion3.com/

  5. joe from Lowell Says:

    “Sales tax revenues do not pay for local budget items like teachers.”

    They pay for local aid, the loss of which would actually put a crippling hole in municipal budgets, if not filled.

    If the sales tax cut passes, local property taxes are going to skyrocket.

    Especially in places like Lowell, that have a lot of “cap space” on the property tax rate.

  6. joe from Lowell Says:

    “Cuts in the sales tax will force the government to stop wasteful spending, NOT the essentials.”

    Could you please cite an example of this “starve the beast” strategy working?

  7. Bud Says:

    “When they decided to get rid of the unfair tax exemption for alcohol”

    That’s funny. Alcohol is now taxed twice, I guess the gov only getting paid 1 time on something is unfair.

  8. Smooth Says:

    No on 1 - I buy my booze in NH and I am happy to let people in other parts of MA pay a higher share. :)

  9. spin Says:

    seriously people, the the excise tax is “supposed” to be the “tax”, not an extra sales tax on the same item. Are we paying sales tax on gas? oil? NO! so why on alcohol or cigarettes. c’mon it’s double taxation and it should be illegal! and if you are going to N.H. you’re not the only one. NO on ONE!

  10. waittilnextyr Says:

    Based on some exit polling from boston.com it looks like 75% of the Baker voters are saying “Yes” on Question 3, but only 4% of the Patrick voters are doing so. Therefore, it is very unlikely that the 3% sales tax will be passed.

  11. Maggie Says:

    I voted no on all 3. The alcohol tax bother me - I don’t drink. # 2 is not an isue here in Lowell -,we are wellabove out quota.( although I do think thgere should be better controls on builders . There have been too many stories about contractora profiting well beyond what they are supposedly allowed.) And Jeremy up top needs a reality check. He probably doesn’t realize how services of all kinds will be affected if that much of a cut is made.

  12. Lynne Says:

    See my post for your refutation of the so-called “double tax.” Excise tax is dinky. Not to mention that other states pretty much have the same policy that we do now.

    Alcohol is NOT a necessity.

  13. waittilnextyr Says:

    Alcohol is an economic burden through lost work, accidents and health care costs, and certainly deserves no break on taxes.

  14. Mr. Lynne Says:

    The alcohol tax thing is such a dumb non-issue. I’ll echo a comment at BMG here:

    Here’s what I didn’t get…
    Alcohol isn’t taxed double…it’s taxes something like sextuple.

    You grow the hops and sell it to a brewer. That’s taxed. Brewer makes it, sells it a distributor. That corporate income is taxed, and it’s taxes again when distributor sells it to you. If any of the stuff is imported — as most alcohol is — there are tariffs involved. The ingredients in your Heineken were already taxes several times before it hit your mouth. And nobody had a problem with it.

    But what do I know? I’m just a tax-and-spend liberal.

    To that I’d also add that somebody is claiming that someone at BMG says that the alcohol sales are up despite all this worry that the new tax would hit demand and be a blow to small business:

    On the eve of an election in which the liquor industry has claimed sales have suffered from the alcohol retail sales tax, the Massachusetts Department of Revenue reported today that alcohol sales tax receipts had soared 20 percent in October over last October. Sales jumped 18 percent in September, over last September.

    “Despite the liquor industry’s claims, in a barrage of television and radio ads, that they deserve an unprecedented special tax break because of the alcohol tax, sales are, in fact, way up over last year,” said Vic DiGravio and Maryanne Frangules, co-chairs of the Committee Against Repeal of the Alcohol Tax.

  15. spin Says:

    mr. lynne,


  16. Lynne Says:

    OOooh wow, great comeback! You must convince people you’re right every day!


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