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Mass. Voters Urge Tax Fairness, Military Cuts to Avoid “Fiscal Cliff” and Protect Vital Programs

By a margin of 74% to 26%, Massachusetts voters sent a clear message to both Democrats and Republicans in Washington about the federal budget crisis and the impending “fiscal cliff”. The Budget for All ballot question was supported by 556,000 to 190,930 in preliminary results. It calls for no cuts to Social Security, Medicare, or other vital programs; investment in useful jobs; an end to corporate tax loopholes and to the Bush cuts on taxes on high incomes; withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan now; and redirection of military spending to domestic needs and job creation.

“It is very significant that the Budget for All passed overwhelmingly in all 91 Massachusetts cities and towns where in was on the ballot, ranging from Boston to Holyoke to Norwood and Fall River,” said Paul Shannon of the American Friends Service Committee.

“The vote in Massachusetts sends a clear message to Senator Kerry, Senator Brown, Senator-elect Warren and elected officials across the state that it is time for a new discussion in Washington, Beacon Hill and across the country: Don’t use the deficit as an excuse to cut necessary programs that benefit all of us. We should deal with the deficit by changing the policies that caused it, not by cutting teachers’ jobs, mass transit, Medicaid and food aid,” said Margaret Arneaud, board member of the Massachusetts Alliance of HUD Tenants.

The Budget for All passes at a critical moment as the “fiscal cliff” and “sequestration” loom on Washington’s horizon. Unless Congress acts now, automatic cuts in needed programs will go into effect beginning January 1. And even bigger cuts will follow.

“The passage of this ballot initiative is a clear rejection of the idea of a ‘grand bargain’ presently being discussed in the media and by the Administration, which would accept draconian cuts to jobs and social programs in exchange for small increases in revenue and insignificant cuts to military programs,” said Laurie Taymor-Berry, legislative liaison for Survivors Inc.

“We see there’s a war going on in our own neighborhoods, where people are dying from shootings and killings and issues in our communities. It frustrates residents to see that so much is being spent on the military and overseas instead of bringing those resources right here in our own neighborhoods,” said Mimi Ramos, Executive Director of New England United for Justice.

Initiated by over 80 community, peace, labor, and faith groups, the Budget for All is supported by State Treasurer Steve Grossman, State Auditor Suzanne Bump, and Representatives Barney Frank, Mike Capuano, Jim McGovern and Ed Markey, along with 10 State Senators, 18 State Representatives, and 15 city councilors.

The Budget for All Coalition is now gearing up to expand its work to ensure that Congress heeds the expressed will of the people of Massachusetts.