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Do Ballot Initiatives Deliver On Their Promises?04:31
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Voters enter the Somerville Department of Public Works in the early morning to vote during the Massachusetts Primary Election. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Voters enter the Somerville Department of Public Works in the early morning to vote during the Massachusetts Primary Election. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
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The rhetoric used in ballot question campaigns often seems to imply that the stakes are extremely high for the future of Massachusetts.

But once the votes have been counted and new policy has been implemented, is there ever follow up on whether ballot initiatives deliver on their promises or bring the disastrous consequences critics claimed they would?

Guest

Evan Horowitz, quick study columnist for the Boston Globe. He tweets @GlobeHorowitz.

Interview Highlights

On the need for an agency to track the effectiveness of ballot initiatives:

"Nobody's tracking, we don't ever seem to track. It would be nice to have some kind of independent agency look into it. We have the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) at the federal level. When Republicans were talking about tax cuts last year, the CBO [was] there to provide scores. 'Oh, this is what we think is going to happen if you pass the laws in their current state.' Their reports shape the debate"

"When we're talking about ballot questions, we don't have any such agency to tell us what the likely effects are. We could have a partner agency, a CBO for Massachusetts."

On what the state can gain from following up on ballot questions: 

"There was a ballot initiative to repeal the sales tax on alcohol and the promise was this will help liquor sales in Massachusetts. It would be nice to know both whether it helped liquor sales and what it did for alcoholism, alcohol-related deaths, underage drinking... a ballot initiative really just creates a new law and if that law isn't working, we should know about it and could fix it."

This segment aired on November 1, 2018.

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