The country will decide who our next president will be on November 8th, but Massachusetts voters will also make decisions on ballot questions that will have a significant impact locally. Here’s why I will vote #NNYY next Tuesday.
No On 1
As a longtime opponent of expanded gambling in Massachusetts, I am opposed to allowing yet another slot parlor to the state. Expanding gambling hurts local small businesses, and increases the number of people falling into crime, addiction, and foreclosures. Additionally, I am deeply disturbed that Question 1 was bankrolled by one wealthy developer who is using the ballot process for his own gain. That is why I am voting no on Question 1.
No On 2
Question 2 is a deeply flawed charter school referendum that is being funded by Wall Street venture capitalists, and has the serious potential to drain significant education funding from public schools across Massachusetts. It’s critical to read this one passage from the summary of Question 2, and think of its consequences:
“New charters and enrollment expansions approved under this law would be exempt from existing limits on the number of charter schools, the number of students enrolled in them, and the amount of local school districts’ spending allocated to them.”
This ballot question is not about whether charter schools are good or bad for students. It’s about whether we can afford Question 2 at a time when the state continues to underfund our public schools, including Chapter 70 education aid, the Special Education Circuit Breaker, regional school transportation, and the charter school reimbursement – state data show that local school districts will lose more than $450 million to charter schools this year, even after state reimbursements. Adding more charter schools will lead to even more funding cuts for all Massachusetts public schools, leaving taxpayers with the responsibility to plug gaps in their local school budgets.
Wealthy out-of-state investors are spending historic amounts of dark money to increase the number of charter school in Massachusetts because they stand to make huge profits from bringing Walmart-style business principles into our public schools. I strongly urge voters to vote no on Question 2 so we can get back to improving all public schools in the Commonwealth.
Yes On 3
This proposed law would prohibit any farm owner or operator from knowingly confining any breeding pig, calf raised for veal, or egg-laying hen in a way that prevents the animal from lying down, standing up, fully extending its limbs, or turning around freely. As society becomes more thoughtful about how we treat our animals, including those for consumption, I think that this ballot question provides reasonable protections and living conditions for confined animals. That is why I will vote yes on Question 3.
Yes On 4
Approximately 800,000 adults use marijuana recreationally in Massachusetts. Yet except for exceptionally small amounts, it is still illegal to possess marijuana allowing drug cartels and criminals to control the marijuana supply in our communities.
It’s time to bring a public health approach to marijuana distribution: legalizing, regulating, and taxing marijuana will bring the use and sale of marijuana out of the shadows, and reduce the crime and chaos in our communities. In addition, as Massachusetts continues to face an opioid crisis driven by prescription painkillers and heroin, we can give ailing residents the alternative of using marijuana to alleviate their pain instead of harmful opioids.
Additionally, racial disparity in policing disproportionately impacts black members of our community. It’s disturbing that black Massachusetts residents are 3.3 times as likely to be arrested for having marijuana than white residents in Massachusetts, even four years after medical marijuana became legal. By legalizing marijuana, Massachusetts voters can strike a blow for criminal justice reform, and take an important, if modest, step towards reducing mass incarceration of non-violent youth.
Finally, legalizing, taxing, and regulating marijuana would generate additional revenue for the state to invest in essential government services such as public education, transportation, human services, and public health. For those concerned about teen use of marijuana, there is no evidence that teen use has increased in states where marijuana has been legalized. If we’re serious about reducing teen drug use, it’s much better to have a public health approach, like tobacco and alcohol, where state resources and strategies have successfully reduced teen use of each drug.
For all of these reasons, I’m voting yes on Question 4.