Four questions will appear on the Nov. 4 statewide general election ballot.
The MTA Board of Directors has voted to support Question 4,
which would guarantee every worker in Massachusetts access to
earned sick time, and Question 2, which would extend the state’s
nickel bottle deposit to most nonalcoholic and noncarbonated
The Board voted to oppose Question 1, which would repeal
automatic indexing of the gas tax to inflation, and it decided to
take no position on Question 3, which would repeal the state’s
2011 expanded casino law.
The votes took place at the Board’s August meeting in
On Question 4, the Board reaffirmed its unanimous decision of
last fall to stand behind the sick-time initiative. The proposed law,
designed to improve fairness for some of the lowest-paid workers
in Massachusetts, was the result of months of work by the Raise
Up Massachusetts coalition.
The coalition is made up of more than 100 community, faith and
labor organizations, including the MTA. The ballot question would
require companies with 11 or more employees to allow workers
to earn up to 40 hours of paid time a year to visit the doctor or
take care of a sick family member. At companies with 10 or fewer
workers, employees would earn up to 40 hours of unpaid sick
MTA President Barbara Madeloni said the initiative is important as a matter of social equity.
“More than 1 million working people in Massachusetts lack sick
days, paid or unpaid, and they are often among the lowest-
paid workers,” Madeloni said. “How can we claim to care about
children, families and communities when staying home with a
sick child can cost you your job? We must fight for policies that
support people being able to care for themselves, have full lives,
and not be subject solely to the demands of employers.”
Madeloni reminded MTA members to vote on all of the ballot
questions as well as for their chosen candidates. “If we are to
amplify our voices as educators and as members of a democratic
society, we need to participate fully,” she said.
The gas tax initiative, Question 1, would eliminate the current
practice of automatically indexing the gas tax to inflation.
Advocates of a “no” vote say eliminating automatic indexing
would in effect threaten the safety of all who travel on
Massachusetts roads and bridges. Existing and future gas tax
revenues are needed to fix the state’s many unsafe roads and
bridges, they note.
Indexing adds about $15 million each year to total gas tax revenues, so after five years, for example, indexing adds about
$75 million a year more in revenue than would be the case
Question 2, the “bottle bill” expansion initiative, would require
deposits on containers for all nonalcoholic, noncarbonated drinks
in liquid form, including water and many sports drinks.
The law would not cover containers made of paper-based
biodegradable materials and “aseptic multi-material packages”
such as juice boxes or pouches. The law would also increase
Proponents say a “yes” vote would result in more recycling and
less trash, and they estimate that expansion of the bottle bill
would bring in approximately $20 million a year in new revenues.
Question 3, on which the Board voted to take no position, would
repeal the state’s 2011 Expanded Gaming Act, which allows up
to three casinos and one slot machine parlor. Simulcasting of live
greyhound racing would also be prohibited if the law passes.
Many proponents of a “yes” vote on the repeal argue that casinos
promote gambling addiction and create other health, social
and law enforcement problems. Those calling for a “no” vote
say casinos create economic growth through short-term and
permanent jobs and that casinos would bring in hundreds of
millions of dollars a year through license fees and taxes, which
under the law would have to be used for public education, local
aid and infrastructure improvements.