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Massachusetts Voters Say Yes to Baker, Casinos, Paid Sick Leave

BOSTON — Running on a platform aimed at providing tax relief for small businesses and increasing state aid to cities and towns, Republican Charlie Baker rebounded from his 6-point loss to Gov. Deval Patrick four years ago by defeating Democrat Martha Coakley in this year’s governor’s race. The tally was 48.4% for Baker and 46.6% for Coakley. The remaining 5.0% of the vote was split between three independent candidates, Evan Falchuk (3.3%), Scott Lively (0.9%), and Jeff McCormick (0.8%).

On the campaign trail, Baker laid out an economic plan that would lower taxes for small business while increasing the earned income tax credit. He also stressed the need to increase state aid to communities, improve education, connect schools with job-training programs, and lift the cap on charter schools. Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Ed Markey bucked the national wave of Republican victories by easily dispatching challenger Brian Herr, 62.01% to 37.99%.

The other high-profile vote of Election Day determined the fate of casinos in the Bay State. Voters turned back a measure that would have barred gaming resorts from the state, 60% to 40%. That means already-approved projects in Springfield (by MGM Resorts International) and Everett (by Wynn Resorts) will move forward, as well as a slots parlor in Plainville. MGM, which is developing an $800 million resort casino in Springfield’s South End, will now pay an $85 million licensing fee and move forward with the project, expected to open in 2017.

In other ballot questions, Massachusetts voters approved, by a 59.5% to 40.5% margin, a measure allowing workers at companies with at least 11 employees to earn paid sick time. When the law goes into effect in July, employees whose companies do not offer sick time as a benefit will be able to earn it incrementally. Workers at companies with fewer than 11 employees will be able to earn unpaid sick time. The measure was opposed by restaurant and retail associations.

Meanwhile, voters repealed, by a 52.9% to 47.1% margin, a law that automatically indexed the state’s gas tax to inflation. Going forward, gas-tax increases may be raised only through legislation. Finally, voters overwhelmingly rejected a measure to expand recycling fees to non-carbonated drinks. The vote was 73.4% to 26.6%.

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