It’s Time for Million-Dollar Earners to Pay Their Fair Share to Invest in Our Future
To help working families, to ensure Massachusetts stays a great place to live, work, and raise a family, and to build a stronger economy for us all, we need to make sure we have high-quality public schools and colleges and a transportation system that works. Without investments in these common goals, working families fall behind and our communities suffer.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, Massachusetts’ economy was working great for those at the top, but that prosperity wasn’t reaching most of our people and communities. Our transportation infrastructure was falling apart. Our public colleges were underfunded and increasingly unaffordable, and our public education system wasn’t providing equal opportunity to all students. For years, Massachusetts’ communities of color have been harmed by inequitable and inadequate access to transportation and public education. Now, the pandemic has heightened these economic and racial inequities that prevent broadly shared prosperity.
As we recover from the pandemic and in the future, new revenue is necessary to improve our public schools and pre-K programs; rebuild crumbling roads, bridges, sidewalks, and bike paths; make high-quality public higher education affordable; and invest in fast and reliable public transportation. Long before the pandemic, we needed new investments in our transportation and public education systems, and now those investments are needed more than ever to lift our economy into an equitable recovery and tackle the longstanding racial inequities that hold our state back from its full potential.
The Fair Share Amendment
It’s time for million-dollar earners to pay their fair share to support our economic recovery and the public services we all depend on. That’s the best – and most popular – way to raise substantial new revenue for investments in transportation and public education.
For years, the highest-income households in Massachusetts – those in the top 1 percent – have paid a smaller share of their income in state and local taxes than any other income group. They’ve also benefited from repeated federal tax cuts: 83 percent of the 2017 tax bill’s benefits went to the top 1 percent, and in 2020, the federal CARES Act included $135 billion in tax breaks for wealthy business owners. And while countless people and small businesses suffered during the COVID-19 crisis, wealthy executives and investors saw their incomes skyrocket. The 19 billionaires in Massachusetts saw their wealth increase by a total of $17 billion during the first three months of the COVID-19 pandemic alone.
The Fair Share Amendment is a proposal to amend the Massachusetts Constitution, creating an additional tax of four percentage points on the portion of a person’s annual income above $1 million. The new revenue, approximately $2 billion a year, would be spent on “quality public education and affordable public colleges and universities, and for the repair and maintenance of roads, bridges and public transportation.” To ensure that the amendment continues to apply only to the highest income taxpayers, who have the ability to pay more, the $1 million threshold would be adjusted each year to reflect cost-of-living increases.
In June 2019, the Legislature advanced the Fair Share Amendment one step closer to the ballot with a Constitutional Convention vote of 147 in favor to 48 opposed. The Amendment needs to receive another 50% vote of the constitutional convention during the 2021/2022 legislative session in order to be placed on the November 2022 ballot. Independent polling conducted by MassINC in December 2020 found that 72 percent of MA voters support the Fair Share Amendment.
Our wealthiest residents can clearly afford to pay a little more to fund the investments we all need. It’s time to pass the Fair Share Amendment and invest in our future!