Over the past couple weeks as I’ve been blogging about the pending state vote on Question 1, the effort to do away with the state’s income tax, I’ve received a lot of feedback from readers – both for and against Question 1. Frankly, the “for” comments have outweighed those against. A consistent theme in those is echoed in the recent comments by “LoudELF”:
“I personally don’t see the wisdom of sending money to the state, only to have it given back to my town for police, fire, schools, roads, etc. Why not have my town decide what needs doing, and administer it right there? The state needs people to administer all of these things which are redundant to what the towns on this. Voting yes on #1 allows for more efficiency, and for cities and towns to better determine their fate and their budgets.”
It’s a hard idea to refute — why send our money in to Beacon Hill when we can “cut out the middle man,” so to speak, and just spend our dollars locally as we need to? I’ve tried to address this line of thinking in my posts, and certainly the folks over at Vote no on Question 1 have some useful statistics on what services Belmont receives from the State that we’d be unlikely to replace. But I also reached out to our State Rep. and former Selectman, Will Brownsberger, to get his thoughts on the debate. Will was nice enough to write back with his thoughts, which I’ve included below.
“It’s quite true that resident Belmontians pay more in total income taxes than the community receives in local aid. I’m not sure what the multiple is, but based on old data, I know that it is substantial. It is not, however, sensible to think that the only value that Belmontians get from the state is local aid. Belmont is not an island. Human services, criminal justice protection, state road and park maintenance, etc. would be gutted by the proposal. Even if Belmont schools, police, and fire, are saved by a huge override vote, our quality of life will suffer, directly and indirectly in a host of ways.
Also, it’s not true that if we passed the income tax cut, overrides would sail through. It’s the homeowners who have more limited incomes and are already having trouble paying their property taxes, who are most likely to vote against an override. They won’t benefit much from an income tax
“Finally, there is a moral dimension to this vote. It is morally wrong to abandon the mentally ill, the mentally retarded, the abused children, the working single mothers who can’t afford health care for their kids and the many others who depend on the state for assistance in one form or another. That’s really what we are talking about — it’s not about optional services and it’s mostly not about waste. No one with a realistic vision of the real human cost of this proposal could vote for it. That’s why many church communities are becoming active on the issue.”