Massachusetts Republicans are left wondering what thought processes Massachusetts voters follow in deciding how they will vote, and gaze with jealous eyes at the voters in the other parts of the country. Before we review the Frank/Bielat results, a survey of three other votes is instructive.
There were three referenda votes on the ballot, of which two are noteworthy. Recently, in order to feed the state’s demand for funds, the state sales tax was increased from 5% to 6.25% and beer and alcoholic beverages (which were already subject to a hefty excise tax) were subjected to the sales tax. The referendum would have rolled back the sales tax to 3% in order to make Massachusetts competitive and to create jobs. Small business along Massachusetts’ border with New Hampshire, which has no sales tax, have suffered large losses. Labor, which represents public employees, donated three million dollars to fight the measure, using the usual scare tactic of forecasting streets without police officers and empty schoolrooms. The Alliance to Roll Back Taxes raised a mere $90,000. The argument that a homeowner does not economize by cutting out money for heating oil and the state does not economize by cutting out critical functions fell upon a gullible public. The referendum was defeated resoundingly, 57% to 43%, adding to Massachusetts’ reputation as an unfriendly business state.
On the other hand, the referendum reinstating the exemption from the sales tax for alcoholic beverages did pass, 52% to 48%.
The position of state auditor was open for the first time since 1987. Contending for the office was Republican Mary Z. Connaughton, CPA. She has a record of public service and she uncovered official shenanigans at the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority. Democrat Suzanne Bump, who is not a CPA, argued that her lack of professional qualifications is not relevant. Considering the frequent and long history of corruption in state government, the argument that the auditor should be, in fact, an auditor and Massachusetts needs an honest watchdog fell on deaf ears. Bump was elected with 49% of the vote.