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“Question 1” Decision Day

November 3, 2008

Boston, MA – The idea of lowering income taxes while the economy is sour sounds like a win-win on the surface. But the "back story" of what happens when 40 percent of the state's income suddenly disappears shows that not everyone does win.

That's the debate around "Question 1," which will be decided on Election Day. The measure would remove the state's income tax on wages, which is currently 5.3%.

Leo Sarkissian, executive director of The Arc, an aid and advocacy group for the developmentally-disabled, says that if "Question 1" passes, it will mean big budget cuts. And, he says, the network of help that keeps people with disabilities in their homes, near their families, and out of expensive institutionalized care is a delicate web that falls apart when money is plucked away through budget cuts.

"Everyone knows somebody, an individual with a disability or an elder, they find there's very little access. We worry about that."

Jennifer Eggars in Waltham has cerebral palsy and depends on a personal caretaker to help her through each day in her apartment. She says if her caretaker comes in for fewer hours, or the service is canceled because of "Measure 1," she only has one option, and she’s upset at the prospect.

“I would be going into a nursing home.”

Theresa Murray is one of Eggars’ caretakers. She claims the other fallout of possible "Measure 1" budget cuts would be fewer hours for her job, and for thousands of jobs across the state.

"If my hours were cut, it would cost me money to come to work for her. I couldn't do that. I have two kids of my own at home."

Backers of the measure say it would force the legislature to be more careful about state spending decisions.

If voters decide to eliminate the income tax, Massachusetts will join the ranks of nine other states, including New Hampshire.

Deborah Smith/Deb Courson, Public News Service - MA