Question 1 Is Reckless and Irresponsible

Question 1 on the Nov. 4 ballot, if passed, would eliminate the Massachusetts personal income tax.

The Economic Development Council of Western Mass. opposes Question 1 because it is bad for business — and education, infrastructure, public safety, and our overall quality of life.

The initiative’s proponents are hoping to sway voters by stating that, on average, taxpayers will annually retain $3,600 each. But it is what they are not saying that is of greater concern to the EDC and its affiliate economic development entities. Here are some facts that support the EDC’s opposition:

  • Throughout the last fiscal year, the state collected a total of $21 billion from all sources of revenue;
  • The portion of the $21 billion that comes from the personal income tax is slightly over $12 billion, totaling 57% of that amount; and
  • The state’s entire budget is approximately $32 billion, including federal funds. Therefore, the decrease to the entire budget will be 38%.
  • Proponents are not saying how the state will continue to provide vital services in the wake of such a dramatic revenue loss. A state budget reduction of 40%, if done across the board, would dramatically impact the services that we see every day: the education of our children, safety of our streets, fire protection, safe roads and bridges, and more.

    The EDC strives to foster the economic development of this region by assisting the region’s current businesses, while also encouraging new businesses to locate in the Pioneer Valley, bringing new jobs and opportunities.

    We have long known that the region’s roads and bridges are aging, worsened by overdue repairs. We realize that, as some workers lose their jobs, they must be retrained with new skills for new jobs. Western Mass. already has workers waiting for placement into job-training programs, waiting because of the lack of adequate funds.

    The EDC has also always recognized the value of our public colleges and universities. These institutions prepare our young people, the region’s future workforce that our businesses are relying on to sustain their growth. Many of those students are dependent on the state’s financial-assistance programs — which would be financially devastated by a 38% cut in state revenue.

    The EDC is also proud to work closely with all nine mayors of the Pioneer Valley. Businesses do not locate to the ‘state of Massachusetts,’ but rather to a very specific location, where our cities and towns provide basic services, including police and fire protection, to ensure a safe community in which those companies’ employees can work and raise a family.

    With that in mind, the EDC has consistently maintained that cities and towns require more state financial aid, especially over the past few years, as cities and towns have become more reliant on the local property-tax stream.

    After assessing these needs and conducting a very careful analysis of the state’s current financial situation, the EDC believes that a 40% reduction in state revenues would be extremely detrimental to all economic efforts and would greatly impact our quality of life.

    Overall, the EDC believes that expressing frustration with the government by supporting initiatives such as Question 1 is the wrong approach.

    Question 1, if passed, will do nothing to sustain a safe and sound Pioneer Valley for our residents and businesses. The cost of replacing the services that will have to be cut will far outweigh the savings estimated to be achieved by eliminating the income tax.

    For all those reasons, the EDC has taken a strong position opposing Question 1 — and encourages others to do so as well.-

    Allan Blair is president of the Economic Development Council of Western Mass.

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