SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

November 3, 2010

State voters reject slashing sales tax


BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts voters have rejected a ballot question that would have cut the state sales tax rate by more than half.

Supporters of Question 3, which would have lowered the tax from 6.25 to 3 percent, said the only way to pressure the state to live within its means is to cut taxes — a move they said would also boost the economy and create jobs.

Critics, including all four candidates for governor, said the tax cut would have forced the state to slash $2.5 billion in services, including local aid to cities and towns, at a time when Massachusetts is still climbing out of a recession.

Opponents, including state and national teachers unions, poured more than $4 million into an advertising campaign against the question, overwhelming supporters.

With 55 percent of precincts reporting, Question 3 was defeated 1,196,946 to 895,909.

Question 1, the removal of sales tax on alcoholic beverages — a tax levied on top of the state's excise tax on beer, wine and spirits — passed 1,069,067 to 1,001,080.

Ballot Question 2, a repeal of the state's affordable-housing provisions, was defeated with 1,039,450 "no" votes and 751,904 in favor of the repeal.