What are the facts about Question 3 — the ballot question that would cut the Massachusetts sales tax by more than half?
From the Massachusetts Nurse Newsletter
July/August 2010 Edition
By Riley Ohlsen
Associate Director, Legislation & Politics
Myth: This ballot question does not cost very much. We will be fine without the money.
The Facts: In truth, this ballot question would cost $2.5 billion. That is $2.5 billion less for education, local aid, health care and public safety. Massachusetts already faces a structural budget deficit in excess of $1 billion annually. An additional loss of $2.5 billion would irreparably harm our ability to provide the services upon which we all rely.
Myth: We can afford to cut the sales tax. We already pay much more in state taxes here in “Taxachusetts” than other states.
The Facts: Massachusetts’ image as a high tax state is woefully outdated and inaccurate. As a percent of personal income, Massa-chusetts taxes less than 37 other states and falls below the national average for combined state and local taxes. This is very different from the late 1970s when we had the third highest tax rate in the country and fell well above the national aver-age. In fact, Massachusetts’ taxes declined more than any other state’s between 1977 and 2007—a startling 24.3 percent compared to an average national decline of 0.9 percent
Myth: The real problem is that our politicians are spending more and more money each year.
The Facts: In the decade from 1998-2008, spending has mostly stayed constant, fluctuating slightly between 8 and 8.5 percent of personal income with many areas of spending decreasing during that time. If you eliminate federal dollars and just look at how the state tax revenues are spent, the state’s expenditures have actually declined.
Myth: All I care about is education. Falling revenues will not affect the schools in my community. They will find other places in the budget to cut first.
The Facts: Unfortunately, the Legislature has already cut billions in state spending on education. K-12 education aid has fallen by 12 percent since 2001. Spending on higher education has decreased 32 percent since 2001.
Myth: Well, I do not have children in school. As long as the rest of local aid is unharmed, I will be fine.
The Facts: Overall, local aid has already seen a whopping 42 percent decrease since 2001. Additional cuts will affect community hospitals, school nursing services and public health/community health centers. It will endanger public safety and our physical infrastructure will suffer too.
>> Next month: How does Question 3 affect the MNA’s bargaining units and your patients?
For these reasons, your fellow registered nurses on the MNA’s Board of Directors have voted to oppose Question 3 and they strongly urge you and your family and friends to vote NO on this question in November.