Cross-Posted on One Massachusetts
These days I’m spending a lot of my time going door-to-door, talking with constituents about their concerns. It’s a great way to connect with people – both so I can hear what is on their minds, and so I can answer questions and provide them with information about their government and how it works.
One thing I’ve been particularly struck by this year is the immense disconnect that seems to exist in most people’s minds between the government services they need and demand, and how these services are paid for.
Over and over, I hear voters tell me – in the same breath – that their taxes are too high, and that the state needs to do more for education, or for our veterans, or to fix our roads and bridges. For whatever reason, they don’t seem to be making the connection between the taxes they pay and the government services they like.
In just one recent day on the campaign trail, I heard this theme three times. In Shirley, it was from a voter who wanted her taxes to be cut – but also wanted to see more funding for summer jobs programs for local children. In Hudson, a group of young men thought government spending was too high – and yet one was looking for help from the government with job training, and the other relied on MassHealth coverage following a car accident. Finally, in Harvard, I heard a citizen complain that government was too big and spent too much – but also wanted my help in securing state funding to fix his road.
When I take the time to have a conversation with these constituents about the connection between the taxes they pay and the services they need, most do start to understand — but it does take that conversation before they get there. It’s clear to me that we have a lot of work to do, and that we all need to spend a lot more time having real conversations with our friends and neighbors about what we want our government to do, and how we pay for those things.