Question 4, a pet project of Lieutenant Governor Jane Swift and Governor Paul Cellucci, called for a reduction of the state income tax rate from 5.85% to 5%. This measure, which passed handily, could be disastrous for deindustrialized Massachusetts cities like Somerville (where I live), which depend on state aid for nearly half their costs. In the waning days of the campaign, however, Cellucci's Secretary of Administration and Finance, Steve Crosby, leaked a draft of the upcoming state budget, in which state spending was projected to increase by 1.2 billion. Crosby explained that this is possible because tax cuts will stimulate the economy.
Meanwhile Question 5, which called for universal health care in Massachusetts and an end to micromanagement of health care by insurance companies, was contersted by a huge ad campaign mounted by the HMOs. Evidently this was money well spent since it succeeded in defeating a ballot question that enjoyed overwhelming support in public opinion polls at the beginning of the election season. An embarrassing moment for the HMOs occurred in late October when Tufts Healthcare, a leading HMO, and Partners Healthcare, a merger of Boston's two largest hospitals, broke off negotiations over reimbursement levels, threatening to leave all the Tufts members who had been going to Partners scrambling for a provider. To avoid such a public relations disaster, the two companies were forced to return to the bargaining table, where they came to some sort of agreement which will undoubtedly result in much higher premiums for Tufts members.
View other Globe cartoons.
Return to Thorkelson Graphics.