Question 3: What If?

This year, Question 3 called for a rollback of the sales tax to 3%.  While the sales tax had once been 3%, it was more recently 5% before Deval Patrick and the Democrats raised our taxes to 6.25%.  What if Question 3 had called for a rollback to 5% instead?

If the rollback was to 5%, it probably would have passed, AND Republicans probably would have done better statewide.  

Both Charlie Baker and Tim Cahill would have been able to not only endorse the Yes on 3 campaign, but actively campaign for it.  So would Republican down ballot candidates.  It would be “on message” with what Deval and the Democrats had done and would have created a coordinated statewide campaign.  The message would be about undoing Deval Patrick’s damage instead of cutting the tax in half.

Instead, it put Republicans in a weird position.  We had to either oppose a tax cut or oppose the top of our ticket.  It put us off message and forced us to play some weird song and dance on the issue that was very off message.  If the rollback was to 5%, the answer would be enthusiastic and clear.

Rolling back to 5% would have also allowed us to run a coordinated statewide effort similar to the CLT/Cellucci/Income Tax rollback in 1998.  This would also have the benefit of raising money for the ballot question.  Many of the same people who donated $500 to Baker, donated $15,000 to the State Party and $10,000 to the RGA.  Some of these same people could also fund an on message ballot question that would be a cornerstone of the Baker campaign platform.


Virtually every Republican I know voted for Question 3 and the final result was competitive.  However, the opposition successfully painted it as extreme.  It made it to the ballot, but there was no comprehensive plan to pass the ballot initiative.  Rolling back to 5% would not have had this problem.  To undo Deval Patrick’s tax hikes, the plan is to simply undo his spending hikes.  Again, it’s on message.  The very act of discussing it puts the issue set on Deval Patrick’s negatives.

Should the income tax rollback ballot initiative been for 3% or 5%?

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About Mike "DD4RP" Rossettie