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Wednesday, April 7, 2010 as of 11:14 AM ET

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Should Massachusetts Reduce Its Sales Tax?

April 30, 2010 - 7:31 AM | by: Douglas Kennedy

To Massachusetts resident Carla Howell, the only good government is small government.

“[Big government] always makes the economy worse,” she said.

And so, every time she goes shopping she feels she’s only contributing to the big government problem.

“Every time I buy something, I am putting money into the hands of politicians and taking it away from working families,” Howell said on Tuesday right after buying a bouquet of tulips from Heather’s Flower Boutique in Wayland, Mass.

Massachusetts currently has a sales tax of 6.25 percent. Carla, who is a registered libertarian, is now supporting a ballot initiative that would cut it to 3 percent. She says the only way to cut big government spending is to cut big government funding.

“[Cutting the sales tax] will be wonderful for the people of Massachusetts. More people will be back at work. More savings. More people able to take care of their families.”

But not everyone is as excited as Carla about a reduced sales tax.

“If this passes it will be a complete disaster for Massachusetts,” said Donna Kelly-Williams. “Once again we will be passing a burden onto our kids.”

Kelly-Williams is a nurse in Cambridge and a member of the Massachusetts Coalition for our communities, the main group opposing Howell’s initiative. She points out that the cut would leave a $2.5 billion hole in the state budget.

“And we already have a shortfall of $2.5 billion. Where is this money going to come from?”

Kelly-Williams says she already knows the answer.

“I fear devastating cuts to educational services, as well as fire and police safety for our communities.”

In any case it will certainly mandate some tough decisions from Bay state lawmakers who only have about $28 billion to work with each year.

And Massachusetts isn’t the only state to face potential tax restrictions from voters. Twelve other states including Maine, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Colorado, Arizona, Washington, Oregon, and California all have various petitions circulating that may cut property, corporate and fuel taxes.

And with a bad economic climate, voters are certain to pass many.

“This will mandate cuts that will be devastating,” said Kelly-Williams.

Howell isn’t buying it. “This is the sky is falling defense.”

“These guys,” she said, referring to Massachusetts elected officials, “are addicted to spending. While the economy has been shrinking, these guys have been spending more money.”

She says the only way to stop them, is through a voter mandate.

“This is it,” she said. “They won’t stop on their own.”

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