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Labor Party Ballot
Questions Approved
In Massachusetts


Ballot Question

The ballot question on single-payer health care read:

"Shall the State Senator from this district be instructed to initiate and support legislation to create a health care system for all the residents of Massachusetts that:

"Provides universal comprehensive health care services that include the freedom to choose doctors and other health care professionals, facilities and services;

"Eliminates the role of insurance companies in health care and creates an insurance trust fund that is publicly administered and fairly funded; and in order to safeguard the availability of quality health care, stops the buying, selling, managing and closing down of health care facilities by for-profit corporations."


Labor Party-initiated ballot questions on health care and education enjoyed wide support in selected electoral districts on Nov. 7.

In one State Senatorial district and in two State Representative districts, voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot question initiated by the Labor Party calling for a single-payer health insurance system for Massachusetts residents.

And in six State Representative districts, a Labor Party-initiated referendum calling for an end to required high stakes testing of high school students received 2-to-1 approval.


Voters in the Hampshire-Franklin Senate District, in the more rural western part of the state, approved the single-payer ballot question by a vote of 37,000 to 17,000, or 69 to 31 percent. This vote was particularly important because the senator, Stan Rosenberg, is Assistant Majority Leader. Rosenberg has declared support for universal health care, but refuses to endorse "Massachusetts Health Care Trust Legislation," which would create a single-payer system in the state.

In the two State Representative districts, both in eastern Massachusetts, the question passed by a 60 to 40 percent margin.

The Massachusetts Labor Party initiated the single-payer ballot question as part of its campaign to build support for the legislation, which has been bottled up in committee for several years by the Democratic Party, which controls the state legislature. The Labor Party is part of the MassCare coalition, which has led the fight for single-payer health insurance in the state. MassCare and senior organizations took part in collecting signatures to get the question on the ballot and then campaigned for its passage.

In contrast to the voter approval for the Labor Party initiative, a statewide binding referendum question (Question 5) calling for universal health care failed. Controversy arose because the authors specifically refused to use the single-payer model as an explanation of how the health care system would be financed. This left the ballot initiative open to attack from HMOs that it was financially irresponsible.

In those districts where the Labor Party initiative was on the ballot, the universal health-care referendum question also passed, but by a smaller margin.


Meanwhile, urban voters from New Bedford to Holyoke voted overwhelmingly to end the use of the MCAS test as a graduation requirement. Six districts with large low-income, minority, immigrant and working-class populations approved the referendum question by large margins.

The high-stakes testing was introduced by the Republican governor and backed by the Democratic legislature.

In voting "yes" on the referendum, voters also rejected vouchers and for-profit schools, and called for continued and equitable state funding of education, smaller class sizes and fair and authentic student assessment. "This vote serves notice to the legislature that our families want their schools under public control and not turned into profit-seeking businesses," said Bill Bumpus, a longtime community organizer and Labor Party member in Somerville.

UE News - 11/00

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