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THE Citizens for Limited Taxation (CLT) petition has received the bulk of the media's attention in recent months, but Massachusetts voters will also decide the fate of five other ballot referenda tomorrow.
Question 1 would abolish the state census--a relic from bygone days used to set up districts for state posts. Every other state in the U.S. now uses the federal census for this purpose. In a more prosperous era, it might make sense to preserve the census, which provides a valuable source of information about the makeup of the state. But given today's economic climate, the $10 million that will go into the 1995 census could probably be put to better use. We support a YES vote on Question 1.
Question 2 would place a variety of restrictions on the state's use of outside consultants. Although this initiative may seem to advocate cutting down on government waste, the effect would be the reverse. Often outside contractors can handle routine tasks far more efficiently than state employees. In addition, many state "consultants" are really state workers who provide vital services such as health care, social services and infrastructure enhancment--and who don't get expensive benefits. Throwing these people--by no means fatcats--out of their jobs will do nobody any good. In agreement with both William F. Weld '66 and John R. Silber, we urge a NO vote on Question 2.
Question 4 would greatly relax state election laws governing the establishment of political parties, making it easier for for fringe candidates to find a place for themselves on the ballot. Such an expansion of the democratic process is clearly overdue in the state of Massachusetts. We support a YES vote on Question 4.
Question 5, like the CLT petition, sounds enticing but should be resisted. The referendum would set aside 40 percent of state taxes for aid to cities and towns. Consequently, the state would have to cut back on funding for health-care, education, hazardous waste clean-up and other vital needs. Allocation of these resources should remain in the hands of the state. We endorse a NO vote on Question 5.
The final ballot initiative, Question 6, would also affect the democratic process in Massachusetts. It would call for television and radio outlets to give free and equal time to all certified candidates for office in the state. (It is nonbinding.) While such a requirement would have a positive effect by increasing the exposure of poorly financed campaigns, it would come at the cost of increased governmental control of the media. The answer to making the election system more equitable is to publically finance campaigns, not to use strong arm tactics on the independent press. We endorse a NO vote on Question 6.
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