MA Heads to the Polls
by Katie Berry on Friday, October 17th, 2014
For all the hype, turning 18 doesn’t seem to be such a big deal. You can finally cut the line at Forbes (just kidding, seniors would never dream of doing that), go bungee-jumping, get that tattoo that your parents hate, or try your luck in the lottery. Also, you can vote. If you’re eager to exercise your shiny new enfranchisement, you’re in luck: Massachusetts is holding an election on November 4th to contest four issues, the first of which determines taxation rates on gasoline.
Any students who drive to school might be familiar with an annual adjustment in the tax per gallon (one proportional to the Consumer Price Index’s percentage) change over the course of the previous year. Boston’s Committee for Safer Roads and Bridges claims that this 2013 law provides revenue necessary to improve potentially dangerous roads, whereas the Committee to Tank Automatic Gas Tax Hikes points out that automatic tax increases are, technically speaking, taxation without representation, and that Massachusetts citizens should vote to repeal the law.
The second issue debates whether to expand or to maintain the current restrictions on bottle recycling policies. The Bottle Bill passed in 1982 places a 5-cent deposit on each alcoholic or carbonated beverage that can be redeemed upon its submission; if Massachusetts citizens vote in favor of this ballot question, the same deposit will be bestowed upon many other types of beverages, including bottled water. Although The Coalition for an Updated Bottle Bill feels that the update will promote recycling, opponents believe that the extra revenue raked in by the government will not be contributed directly to environmental programs and that the bottle return system is a dinosaur that long ago lost its effectiveness.
The prohibition of new casinos in Massachusetts would be maintained if the third ballot question were passed, a decision that The Repeal the Casino Deal Committee thinks is much needed; it states that casinos, although relatively new to Massachusetts, promote crime, absorb money that would otherwise be gained by local businesses, and hurt the poor. The Coalition to Protect Mass Jobs, conversely, highlights the many jobs that casinos offer and the large quantity of money that Massachusetts residents spent before on out-of-state casinos.
If the fourth issue were approved, Massachusetts residents would be guaranteed 40 hours annually to stay at home in order to recuperate from sickness, and larger companies would even continue to pay the employee’s salary during that time. People and groups that oppose the proposal, such as The Retailers Association of Massachusetts, point out that such measures could potentially double costs to the employers and reduce flexibility of smaller companies. Raise Up Massachusetts, which supports the proposal, insists that allowing employees to recover would increase efficiency, decreasing costs. Marshall Sloane (III), who was an intern over the summer on Martha Coakley’s campaign for governor, agrees with the latter opinion: “Earned sick time allows workers to help someone or themselves in a time of need. A perfect example is a pregnant single mother who needs to be on bed rest, and this mother without earned sick time would have to suffer financial pressure and possible hunger or homelessness to give birth to a healthy child. If this mother had earned sick time, she could support herself.”
On a whole, Milton students seem uninterested to exercise their newfound power— or, if enthusiastic, appear to lack information. Colby Parsons (I) says “I’m planning to vote, because I’m 18 and I can.” Regarding the ballot questions, Colby says, “I don’t know much about them and haven’t given them much thought.”
Max Kliman (I) has similar sentiments. “Helping to decide which questions become laws and which get thrown away is a right that isn’t available in every country, and since in America we have this opportunity, we should take advantage of it,” he says. Max adds, however, “As much as my own research can help me make my own decisions, my parents have always tried to teach me their values, and…a lot of what they have taught me will come into play when I vote.”
Here at Milton, be it through choosing our class gear or electing a head monitor, we experience the benefits and rights of democracy. On November 4th, some students and likely many of the parents visiting today will exercise this same right in a larger realm.
Short URL: http://miltonmeasure.org/?p=6528