Fall Ballot Questions Will Have Major Impacts on Public Health

MPHA Urges YES on Minimum Wage Increase, YES on Earned Sick Time, NO on Gas Tax Indexing Repeal

YES on Increasing the Minimum Wage
In 1968, the real value of the Massachusetts minimum wage was $10.72 an hour. Today, it is worth $8.00 an hour. This ballot initiative would incrementally raise the minimum wage to $10.50 an hour by 2016, and starting in 2017, require annual minimum wage adjustments based on the rising cost of living. It will also increase the hourly wage for tipped workers from the current $2.63 an hour to $4.15 in 2015 and $6.30 by 2016.

Higher incomes for low-wage workers equals better health.  Higher incomes are associated with increased life expectancy, lower rates of disabilities, lower rates of chronic physical and mental health conditions, and healthier behaviors.

Increasing the minimum wage would benefit over a half million people who currently earn $8-12 an hour. Collectively, they would get $720 million more a year in increased wages, and spend it on our economy to support local businesses and improve our communities. Please click here for more information.

YES on Earned Sick Time
Nearly 1 million workers in Massachusetts – almost one-third of all workers –  do not receive earned sick days and are forced to go to work unwell or risk losing their jobs.  This ballot question will require employers to provide at least 40 hours of job-protected sick time per year to employees.

Not only is earned sick time good for families and the economy, but it also protects public health. It allows people to stay home when they are sick and subsequently reduces the transmission of disease in the workplace and protects the health of those who are most vulnerable to infection, such as the elderly and children. Please click here for more information.

NO on Repeal of Gas Tax Indexing
The November 2014 ballot will include a question to repeal the indexing of gas tax to inflation, which was passed in the 2013 Transportation Finance Bill. MPHA opposes this question because:

  • Gas tax money is dedicated to transportation – including maintenance of our roads and bridges, as well as investments in our our public transit, biking, and walking infrastructure.
  • The gas tax is a flat rate rather than a percentage, like sale or income taxes, it diminishes in value year after year. Indexing the gas tax simply allows it to keep up with inflation.
  • Without indexing, the state will lose over $1 billion in the next 10 years. This will hurt the economy, continue the cycle of deferred maintenance of our roads and bridges, and reverse the momentum for investing in infrastructure that encourages active transportation.
  • Funding for the Active Streets Certification Program – a signature MPHA priority over the last two years – is just one of the many investments that will be at risk if indexing is repealed.

Due to the significant impact of our transportation system on public health, MPHA’s Rebekah Gewirtz serves on the steering committee of the Committee for Safer Roads and Bridges. This committee has taken the lead in working to defeat this ballot question.

Get Involved!
Want to make a difference?

  • MPHA is pleased to support Raise Up Massachusetts which is leading the effort to pass the minimum wage increase and mandated earned sick time. You can join the campaign here and find events near you here.
  • Help us spread the word about how repeal of gas tax indexing will jeopardize public health. Stay tuned this summer for more information and action on this question.

2 Comments on “Fall Ballot Questions Will Have Major Impacts on Public Health

  1. Pingback: MPHA May 2014 Newsletter | MPHA: Action for a Healthy Massachusetts

  2. Pingback: MPHA June 2014 Newsletter | MPHA: Action for a Healthy Massachusetts

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