Here in Massachusetts we had three publicized questions which were binding (meaning it will go into law) and a forth in only eleven districts which was non-binding (meaning people would be generally expressing to their legislation what they want to see happen). All of the questions were serious points to consider and the non-binding question was one available in my district; I was happy to fill in the black blob for all four this time around.
Question 1 was to reduce personal income tax (currently at 5%) to 2.65% as of the first of next year and then eliminate it completely by the first of 2010. A yes vote for this question would cut state revenues by more than forty percent of the total state budget surely reducing aid, education funding, safety and potentially other programs -- as reported by those against. Those for indicated that there is waste of over 40% in Massachusetts already, that each of the 3.4 million residents would gain $3,700 annually (upon complete elimination) and no services would be cut.
Since it was not accurately expressed exactly what would be cut if the income tax was eliminated, and I did not want to take the chance that someone like my Aunt who works for the Parks Department would lose her job due to the reduction of alleged waste, I happily voted NO.
69% of the state agreed.
Question 2 (I am showing only the basis for those over eighteen in my summary) was a proposal to replace criminal penalty for those possessing an ounce or less of marijuana, keeping it off a criminal record (will not show up on background check) and make it a civil crime resulting in a $100 fine and relinquishment of the substance. Those in favor estimate that $30 million and 7,500 arrests could be saved and spared annually, freeing up police to pursue more serious crime. Those against insist it would encourage use of marijuana and send a lackadaisical message about selling to drug dealers.
For those who are unaware of my stance on this issue, I fervently voted YES.
65% of the state concurred.
Question 3 would ban dog racing, meeting and wagering on those races across the state and anyone in violation would be subject to payment of no less than a $20,000 civil fine. Those in favor indicate the inhumane treatment of the animals both while racing (living in confinement, injuries and positive testing for drugs such as cocaine) and after their career has come to an end (potential cardiac arrest, paralysis and broken legs). Those opposed note the over 1,000 jobs that would be lost as a result of shutting down an institution that has been in place for over seventy years as well as revenue for the two towns where this type of racing still exists.
Although I do agree that revenue and job loss for anyone is a blow, I had to vote from the heart on this one. I do not support racing of any animals and happily voted YES.
56% of Massachusetts was ready for change tonight as well.
Question 4 would instruct legislation to vote in favor of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by the year 2020 and begin working to eliminate tax incentive for projects which drain on energy resources while simultaneously expanding efforts to increase green job creation, conservation and sustainable agriculture efforts.
Although all of the precincts have not yet reported on this question as of the time of my writing I am happy to report that all precincts in my district have and we are all in unison saying YES! For the other districts not yet in but some votes tallied it is looking as if this measure will get a yes vote almost all the way across the board.
Go Green! Go hope! Go positive vibes!