Most voters know about the race for Governor. And many of us have heard or read something about other races. But how many of us know about the three ballot questions that threaten our communities? They may be flying under the radar but they are, perhaps, the three most important votes we will take this November. Fortunately, there is a simple way to remember how to vote on each question – “Just Say No!”
Many of our families are hurting in this brutal economy. Our pocketbooks are shrinking, and there are tax cut questions that may sound good when we first hear about them. Saving money on sales taxes and cutting back on government funding may sound appealing. Until we consider what we would lose. Who pays when fees at UMass and local community colleges go up? What happens when daycare subsidies for low income workers and after school programs for working families get eliminated? Who will work fewer hours to care for an aging parent when home care services get cut? And what happens to our children and our property values when our struggling school system is suddenly forced to lay off thousands of staff? Who will help us stem the increases in youth violence? What happens to a family that can’t find affordable housing? And who will be there to respond when there is a public safety emergency?
We all know there is waste in government. And we should push to eliminate every last drop of fat. But these proposals are extreme. We simply can’t afford them. We hope Dorchester and Mattapan will Vote NO on Questions 1, 2, and 3.
Question 1 would create a special tax break for alcohol. We now pay the same sales tax on alcohol purchases that we pay on other goods (except food, clothing, and prescription medicines which are exempt from the sales tax). All the money from the alcohol tax goes directly into a fund for prevention and treatment of addiction. Here in Dorchester, the Codman Square Health Center, Dorchester House, the Neponset Health Center, Interim House, and others are helping our family members and neighbors regain healthy and productive lives. If Question 1 passes, this lifeline for addicted teens, adults, and their families would be cut. Vote NO to protect these vital health services.
Question 2 would immediately stop production of affordable housing in most suburbs across the state. While Boston has done its part, with 19 percent of its units certified as long-term affordable, many of our suburbs lag behind. The state’s affordable housing law encourages EVERY community to meet a minimum 10 percent threshold. It recognizes that Massachusetts is an expensive place to live, and Boston can not house all of our low and moderate income seniors and families. We need a regional solution where every city and town is offering housing that is affordable to our teachers, nurses, and other health care workers, retail employees, clerical workers, and all our working families. Vote NO to maintain this important affordable housing law that protects seniors and working families.
Question 3 would eliminate $2.5 billion in funding for public safety, schools, health centers, youth programs, elderly services, and more. This would come on top of more than $2 billion in cuts that have already been made since the start of the recession, and another $2 billion that will have to be cut next year due to federal stimulus funds expiring. If Question 3 passes, we would see $4.5 billion in cuts, rather than $2 billion.
According to a recent report by the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, Question 3 would force layoffs of thousands of teachers, police officers, and firefighters. The foundation said in its statement that the cuts would “seriously compromise the core services provided by local government – education and public safety” and would fall most severely on cities and poorer communities. Vote NO to defeat this dangerous proposal.
It is as easy as 1, 2, 3. Join your Dorchester neighbors in voting No, No, No on November 2. For more information, or to get involved, call MAHA at 617-822-9100.
Acia Adams-Heath of Dorchester and Symone Crawford of Mattapan are board members of the Massachusetts Affordable Housing Allliance or MAHA. Located in Dorchester’s St. Mark’s neighborhood, MAHA educates and mobilizes people in support of sustainable homeownership and stable neighborhoods.