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MA House, Senate Set to Vote on Millionaire's Tax

More than 100 legislators co-sponsored the Fair Share Amendment in the Massachusetts House and Senate this year. (Raise Up Massachusetts)
More than 100 legislators co-sponsored the Fair Share Amendment in the Massachusetts House and Senate this year. (Raise Up Massachusetts)
June 12, 2019

BOSTON - The Massachusetts House and Senate hold a constitutional convention today to vote on what's known as the Millionaire's Tax, or Fair Share Amendment, which would create a 4% state tax on the portion of a person's income above $1 million to support transportation and public education.

If it passes, the amendment would need to go through another legislative session before it could be put on the 2022 ballot for a vote.

Lew Finfer, co-chair of the Raise Up Massachusetts Coalition of community, religious and labor groups that started this citizens' initiative in 2015, explained what needs to happen for the tax to pass this vote.

"We're hopeful that we'll get a significant majority of votes for it," he said. "Legally, we need 50% plus one. We're confident we're going to get that."

Critics have argued that the tax, which would raise about $2 billion a year, would be wasteful, particularly as the current proposed state budget would increase education spending by nearly $270 million. However, a majority of voters in a recent Boston Globe/Suffolk University poll said they would pay more in taxes or support redistributing money to poorer districts to close achievement gaps.

Cindy Rowe, executive director of the Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action, said her group supports the Fair Share Amendment.

"It is the obligation of those with more wealth to give, to create a more equitable society," she said. "We need those who have incomes over $1 million to pay their fair share."

The Millionaire's Tax was expected to be on the November ballot last year, but the amendment was ruled unconstitutional for being a citizen-initiated effort that both imposed a tax and stipulated where the funds would go. Rowe said this version meets legal requirements because it began in the Legislature.

More information about the amendment is online at malegislature.gov.

Laura Rosbrow-Telem, Public News Service - MA