The Mystic View Task Force Consensus* on the 2014 Ballot Questions is No, Yes, Yes, Yes!
#1 On Eliminating Gas Tax Indexing
This initiative would REPEAL that portion of the gasoline tax which links increases to the rate of inflation. In 2013, the legislature raised the gas tax for the first time since 1991, by 3 cents a gallon.
MVTF: NO on #1
Massachusetts streets and roads are in chronic disrepair, and a majority of its bridges are unsafe or obsolete. Repeal of indexing would allow Massachusetts to fall further behind on road and bridge disrepair, leaving drivers vulnerable to gaping potholes and crumbling overpasses, like Somerville’s McGrath Highway. Losing revenue from indexing could also cost Massachusetts future federal funding, like the “New Starts” grant that Somerville is counting on to pay half the cost of the Green Line Extension.
#2 On Expanding the Beverage Container Deposit Law
Would EXPAND the 5 cent bottle deposit to cover such beverages as sports drinks and bottled water.
MVTF: YES on #2
Container deposits are a proven means of increasing the recycling of beverage containers. Almost 80% of deposit containers are recycled — only 23% of non-deposit containers are recycled. The containers that are now excluded, such as water bottles and alcoholic beverage bottles, form a significant part of landfills. Passage of Bottle Bill Expansion would mean less litter on city streets and state roadways, and taxpayers would save big on litter pickup and trash disposal costs. Our parks and beaches and rivers — including the Mystic — would be cleaner, too.
#3 On Expanding Prohibitions on Gaming
Would REPEAL the State’s Casino Law, which created a powerful, non-elected commission to site 3 “destination” casinos and 1 slots parlor in Massachusetts, and which also empowers federally recognized tribes to open casinos.
MVTF: YES on #3
The preponderance of evidence is that casino gambling not only increases the incidence of gambling addiction, it increases nearby traffic congestion and decreases nearby property values. Entering into a partnership with the casino industry and embracing its predatory business model of exploiting addictive gambling is as wrong as partnering with the tobacco industry to promote cigarette smoking. The social and economic costs are far greater than the tax revenues; gains in employment would be offset by closures and job losses at existing local businesses; and Lottery sales would suffer, jeopardizing Local Aid to Cities and Towns. Apart from these and other problems with expanded gambling, the state-approved siting of the Wynn casino in Everett would hurt development at Assembly Square; snarl traffic at Sullivan Square and Wellington Circle; and jeopardize water quality in the Mystic River, as a result of planned dredging.
#4 On Earned Sick Time for Employees
MVTF: YES on #4
Allowing employees to earn sick time will encourage them to seek medical help earlier, improving their health, and increase their take-home pay, improving the local economy. Nearly one million Mass. workers can’t earn paid sick time, including 38% of all employed men and women living in Somerville. Many of those workers can’t even earn unpaid sick time, and face job loss if they stay home when they get sick or their children are too sick to attend school or child care. These workers tend to be concentrated in service industries, so when they come to work sick, they put both their co-workers and the public at risk. In fairness to these workers and their families, and to improve community health, our workforce needs earned sick time.
*Positions taken by unanimous vote of the Board at the Mystic View Task Force Meeting on September 27, 2014.
About the Mystic View Task Force
MVTF exists to increase understanding among Somerville, Massachusetts, residents about how each choice that we make regarding land use, real estate development, transportation infrastructure, public health, and housing affordability creates the future that we are building for ourselves and the environment in which we live.