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No, No, No - Chamber takes positions on Ballot Questions

Chamber takes positions on Ballot Questions

A large part of the Chamber’s mission is to support regional economic development and the regional business community. To that end, the Chamber board of directors recently voted to oppose three Ballot Questions that we feel will negatively impact economic development and business in the Neponset Valley.

Question 1 seeks to repeal the indexing of the gas tax to inflation, a measure which the state legislature approved a year ago. The gas tax hadn’t been raised in over 20 years, which shows how unlikely it would be for legislators to consider raising it in the future. Indexing it to inflation will insure that we at least keep pace with inflation over time and not devalue the impact of the tax. This Chamber has been a strong advocate for major transportation infrastructure improvements in the region for years. As a leading voice for the Route 128 add-a-lane project and more recently the Route 93/95 Interchange in Canton, we recognize the need for a reliable source of funding for our infrastructure. The connection between a modern, efficient transportation system and economic development is a direct one and is crucial to our future competitiveness.

Question 2 is an effort to expand the Bottle Bill to cover plastic bottles containing water, juices, carbonated beverages and more. Many of these plastic containers did not exist when the original bottle bill was passed. Therefore, proponents say, it makes sense to add them to those items requiring a 5 cent deposit. However, single-stream recycling also didn’t exist when the bottle bill was passed. Today more than 90% of us have access to modern and efficient recycling facilities that make it easy to recycle all of our drink containers. Expanding the Bottle Bill will place an unneeded financial burden on merchants. Additionally, the bill creates a double tax, whereby consumers are paying for curbside recycling and paying a deposit that many won’t recoup. Instead, the unredeemed deposits will go into the Commonwealth’s general fund. While opposing the expanded Bottle Bill, the Chamber also encourages the state to put more effort into a public awareness campaign about the need to recycle plastic containers.

Question 3 aims to repeal the Casino legislation passed in 2011. The Chamber opposes this for several reasons. Regardless of one’s feelings for or against casino gambling, the state did approve the legislation and create rules and regulations for approving licenses and managing the system. Host communities voted to allow or not allow casinos in their towns and casino operators applied for the licenses in good faith. Plainridge Park Casino in Plainville was granted the state’s only slots license and is currently under construction, employing hundreds of construction workers. Once all the casinos are completed it’s estimated that they will create 10,000 permanent jobs. Repealing the legislation at this point would pull the rug out on the communities that voted to host the casinos and all those who could have been employed by them. Furthermore, it would send an extremely negative message about our commitment to economic development to businesses looking to grow or relocate to Massachusetts. And finally, maintaining the current law will divert hundreds of millions of dollars that is being spent in Connecticut and Rhode Island back to the Commonwealth.

Naturally there are good arguments on both sides of each issue. What is important is that voters educate themselves on all four ballot questions. We encourage the business community to vote in a way that supports business and economic growth in the state.