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My Budget For All Experience

by Ian Harrington, Wayland

I have had the honor of working this past month with several organizations to get an important referendum question placed on the ballot this November.

In Massachusetts, we need to collect certified signatures (200 per state representative district or 1,200 per state senatorial district) on petitions to get the public policy question of our choice on the ballot in that district. Several volunteers spent long hours collecting signatures at food stores, shopping centers, town dumps, farmers markets, and other locations, leading to this question making it on the ballot in a good number of districts around the state (the final count is not yet available).

Asking people to sign the petition led to a number of interesting conversations. The people I encountered could be broken down to six distinct groups:

  • Those who avoided eye contact and did not want to have anything to do with someone holding a clipboard.
  • Those who disagreed with the proposal presented in the question and thus did not want to sign.
  • Those who agreed with the proposal and readily signed.
  • Those who agreed to sign the petition so that the question could be on the ballot.
  • Those who felt the issue was too complicated to have an opinion on it.
  • Those who found the idea an interesting and new one and wanted more information.

It was the people in this sixth group, which was surprisingly large, that excited me. It gave me the feeling that having the question on the budget would make many people think of such a change as a real possibility for the first time.
This may be the beginning of a fundamental change in US public policy!

For additional information, please go to the referendum website at
http://budget4allmass.org/.