Yes on Question 1; No on 2, 3, and 4In this and the next issue, The Tech will analyze the eight ballot questions offered to Massachusetts voters this Election Day. Voters in the Bay State have a unique opportunity this year to establish new laws on important issues such as health care, tax policy, and crime. We begin today with an analysis of Questions 1 through 4.
Question 1 would require the state to redraw district boundaries for state legislators two years after a federal census instead of the current four years. The Tech urges a vote of yes on 1. The change in redistricting ensures that boundaries are updated as the population changes. Furthermore, Massachusetts will face legal action if the measure does not pass, as the current four-year interval violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The Tech recommends that voters help the state avoid unnecessary lawsuits over this issue.
On Question 2, a yes vote would revoke the state voting privileges of incarcerated felons, while a no vote would allow the imprisoned to retain their voting rights. The Tech strongly recommends a vote of no on 2. The right to vote is not some privilege that prisoners forfeit along with the luxury of living freely in society. Voting is too precious of a right to remove from anyone. The Tech hopes that Massachusetts will not join other states that have succeeded in preventing felons in their states from voting. Prisoners should always have the right to speak out against a government they perceive as unjust, whether through their words or through their votes.
Question 3’s passage would outlaw greyhound racing in Massachusetts beginning in June 2001. The Tech urges a vote of no on 3. Although Question 3 supporters say that greyhounds are abused at local tracks, Massachusetts is in fact the only state of the 16 that allow dog racing to place tracks and kennels under State Police supervision. There has not been a documented case of abuse at a Massachusetts racing facility in 65 years of operation. Outlawing greyhound racing in Massachusetts is unnecessary and unnecessarily deprives citizens access to a service.
If passed, Question 4 would reduce the state income tax rate by almost a full percentage point over the next three years to 5 percent in 2003. The Tech recommends a vote of no on 4. Massachusetts in currently in the midst of an economic expansion. This measure will nip that expansion in the bud, with a loss of over $2.7 billion in tax revenues over the next four years. The state simply cannot afford that revenue loss.
At the same time, The Tech is concerned that the retained revenues will be used to fund more questionable pet projects, such as the mismanaged Big Dig and the construction of a new Fenway Park. We advise our state legislators to remember the voters and to allocate a substantial portion of the revenues to worthwhile endeavors, such as improving the quality of public education and health care.
On Tuesday, The Tech will offer its views on Questions 5 through 8.