Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Vote ‘Yes’ on Question 3 Amherst

By Shane Cronin

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Citizens of Amherst, the Ministry of Propaganda is up to its old tricks. They’re operating under the guise of The Massachusetts Coalition for Our Communities and similar groups.

They’re hoping to scare you into voting “No” on ballot Question 3 in the upcoming election. “Save our teachers. Save our police officers and fire fighters. Think of your children’s futures. We can’t afford any more cuts during these tough economic times.” Yeah, yeah yeah.

We’re familiar with the routine.

These phonies conveniently neglect to mention on their site that the sales tax in this state was originally passed as a temporary emergency measure to close a budget gap, not a perpetual crutch for career politicians and outrageous pension liabilities. It should have been repealed when the Jackson 5 were still putting out records. Instead, it continues on a never ending climb.

A map of the state is displayed on their home page, with an arrow that hovers over various cities and towns. You can select your community in the scroll bar to find out how much money it is set to “lose” if the Massachusetts state sales tax is rolled back from the current 6.25 percent rate to three percent. What the group doesn’t tell you is how much money each working individual and family will save if the tax is cut.

The ballot initiative’s lead proponent, Carla Howell, claims the average worker will save nearly $700 annually if the rollback passes. Families will save almost $1000. The Beacon Hill Institute found the tax cut would result in almost 30,000 new jobs as well as hundreds of millions of dollars in investments and wage raises. Can you say “economic stimulus?”

I know I don’t need to remind you of the enormous efforts and difficult choices you’ve made over the last few years, Amherst. You’ve made concessions for your community and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. You have given plenty of dough. Now its time for you to take (or should I say keep) some of that money for yourselves.

Earlier this year, you passed a $1.68 million Proposition 2 1/2 override, which increased your property taxes. I had the opportunity to meet some of you outside the Bangs Community Center last spring and listen to your concerns. Many of you noted your friends and neighbors who worked at the local schools and library. You wanted their jobs to remain intact, so you voted for the override. For some of you this was not a financially feasible decision, but you voted for it anyway. For your community.

In addition, you’ve made $7 million worth of other budget cuts over the last few years including the closing of Mark’s Meadow Elementary School. Furthermore, of the old five percent rate, 20 percent of your sales tax dollars have financed the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority for decades. Amherst and the rest of the western Mass. receive virtually no benefit from this investment. The agency is insolvent, which means the legislature is pumping your money into an industry that has been failing for years.

What does Governor Deval Patrick say in response to your efforts? When asked what the effects of rolling the sales tax back, he told Boston Herald reporters a few weeks ago, “I think it means that property taxes go up, it means tolls on the Turnpike and fares and the commuter rail and T go up.” If that isn’t a low blow to Amherst, I don’t know what is.

The opposition doesn’t want you to think about any of that stuff, though. They want you to forget about your sacrifices. Forget about John Kerry and his yacht docked in Rhode Island to evade taxes. Forget about Deval Patrick’s attempt last year to install State Senator Marian Walsh in a $175,000 position that was left vacant for 12 years. Forget about the big stink the teachers unions put up about a pay freeze while you were furloughed and laid off.

The Massachusetts Teachers Association, by the way, has funneled over half a million bucks into the campaign fighting the sales tax rollback. That’s a lot of money for a group that claims its members can’t miss one or two pay raises in a recession, like almost everyone in the private sector has done at a minimum.

According to, no local aid need be cut if the sales tax is rolled back. Massachusetts could trim the fat from the state budget, which there is plenty of.

The Massachusetts Coalition for Our Communities is audacious in telling Mass. residents to keep the sales tax at its current rate. Vote “Yes” on Question 3. No matter what the Propaganda Ministry says, Amherst will still be here next year.

Shane Cronin is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at [email protected]


5 Responses to “Vote ‘Yes’ on Question 3 Amherst”

  1. Andrew on October 27th, 2010 10:32 pm

    The far-right supporters of Question 3 always seem to use the same two long-debunked arguments. First, the idea that it would result in 30,000 new jobs is based on nothing more than comparing the number of jobs today with the number of jobs the last time the sales tax was at 3% – which was before the recession. In other words, they want us to think that cutting the sales tax will give us back all the jobs lost in the recession. Yeah, right.

    The stuff about savings for the “average worker” is also based on deception. Averages don’t mean much. If a group of minimum wage workers are sitting in a room and then Bill Gates walks in, suddenly the “average worker” in that room is a millionaire. The average is calculated by adding up everyone’s income and then dividing it by the number of people – there’s no guarantee that the “average worker” even EXISTS. It may be the case that we just have some people below average and some (very few) people far above average.

    Do you know what the average family income is in Massachussets? $65,304 per year (according to the census). In other words, if Carla Howell is right, then Question 3 will save you $1000 per year… but ONLY IF you already earn $65,304. If you earn more it will save you more, and if you earn less it will save you less.

    If you’re like me and you earn far below that average, Question 3 will not put any money in your pocket at all. It will just take away money from schools, roads, police, firefighters, and of course UMass. If you go to college here, you can expect your tuition costs to go up by $1600.

    On the other hand, the richest of the rich would get a massive bonus from this – far above that paltry $1000 promised to the “average family”. People like Shane Cronin want to see workers fight each other for scraps while millionaires get yet another tax cut. That’s the real intent behind his comments about how teachers have apparently not suffered enough in this recession. He wants us to be upset about other workers getting paid slightly more than us, but forget about the super-rich. Well, I’m not falling for it! I’m going to vote no on Question 3.

  2. Jill Norm on October 28th, 2010 6:38 pm

    Dont Believe the Sales Tax Lies from Teachers Unions……I am a small retail business owner within 20 minutes of the New Hampshire border. If the sales tax roll back goes through, I can hire at least one new person with benefits. I have lost 1 Million in sales revenues to New Hampshire. Do the math. Why does a teacher whom works 3/4 of the year get a pension and I dont? Where is my pension or bail out? Increased revenues are real, and teachers unions are one of the biggest problems facing our country. I dont even get to take a pay check most weeks and these people get extra special treatment???? I am sick and tired of special interests.

  3. Andrew on October 28th, 2010 10:53 pm

    So you’re upset that poor teachers get pensions (a lot of teachers have to work two jobs), but you’re not upset that the super-rich get billions of dollars in tax breaks and bailouts?

  4. drewby7777 on November 1st, 2010 9:59 pm

    Hey Andrew, first off stop with the B.S. class warfare crap. Typical progressive liberal dem tactic to divide people.

    If that was you who made millions of dollars every year from your hard work I’m sure you would just give it away right?? Yeah ok.

    Secondly, the one thing that libs don’t understand for some odd reason is that eventhough we are hurting for jobs they STILL want to attack and tax to death the very people, small business and corporations that would actually create the jobs we need. Gov’t does NOT create jobs.

    As far as the “poor” teachers who have an annual increase in pay written into their contracts AND we have to fund their pensions for the rest of their lives. Why is that? Why can’t they take some of their own money and invest it for their retirement like all of the rest of us do? The teacher’s unions won’t be happy until the towns start filing for bankruptcy and then all of the teachers and their contracts will be gone and there is nothing the teachers unions can do about it.

    Maybe that’s the way to go to save our towns from the ridiculous contracts with public service employee unions? Sounds good to me.

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