MTF Report Demonstrates Need for Fair Share Tax on Million-Dollar Incomes to Fund Transportation and Public Education
BOSTON – A new report from the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation (MTF) today estimated that the MBTA needs over $1 billion in new revenue by 2023 in order to maintain service without fare increases, while also preserving, modernizing, and protecting its infrastructure. The Fair Share Amendment, the proposed state tax on incomes above $1 million which would raise at least $2 billion a year for spending on transportation and public education, is set to appear on the November 2022 statewide ballot.
The Raise Up Massachusetts coalition of community organizations, faith-based groups, and labor unions, which has led the campaign for the Fair Share Amendment since 2015, issued the following statement in response to the MTF study:
“Liberal and conservative researchers agree that the MBTA needs new long-term funding to operate trains, buses, and the commuter rail without fare increases, to invest in the modern infrastructure necessary for faster, more reliable service, and to protect critical infrastructure from the effects of climate change. One-time budget surpluses and federal aid won’t be enough; Massachusetts needs a sustainable source of funding to invest in the MBTA and regional transit authorities across the state, and to repair our roads, bridges, and tunnels. The Fair Share Amendment is the answer.
“As this new report explains, failure to invest in transportation infrastructure would ‘exacerbate inequities and derail the Greater Boston economy.’ Failing to invest in public transportation and our roads across Massachusetts will also mean a return to the debilitating traffic congestion we experienced before the pandemic.
“In November 2022, voters will have the chance to support sustainable, long-term revenue for investments in transportation and public education, without asking low- and middle-income families to pay a penny more. The Fair Share Amendment simply asks individuals with incomes above a million dollars in a single year to pay a little more to improve our public schools and colleges, and to upgrade our roads, bridges, and public transportation.”
Background on the Fair Share Amendment
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 generated by the tax, 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 tax 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.
Massachusetts needs fair and sustainable funding to meet our long-term needs for investment in transportation and public education. Now more than ever, we need investments in our public schools to help students recover from the effects of the pandemic, and to ensure that all students have access to a complete and well-rounded education. We have a large backlog of neglected and structurally compromised bridges, tunnels, roads, paths, and public transportation infrastructure in need of repair. Tuitions and fees at our public colleges and universities are among the highest in the country, and students are forced to take on enormous debt to receive a degree.
As we recover, 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.
Our wealthiest residents can clearly afford to pay a little more to fund the investments we all need. 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, multi-millionaire investors saw their net worth skyrocket. The 20 billionaires in Massachusetts saw their wealth increase by a total of $17.2 billion during the first seven months of the COVID-19 pandemic alone.
In June 2021, with a vote of 159 in favor to 41 opposed, the Legislature’s Constitutional Convention voted to place the Fair Share Amendment on the November 2022 statewide ballot, where it is now set to be decided on by the voters. More than 100 organizations and hundreds of activists across the state are working together through the Raise Up Massachusetts coalition to win the Fair Share Amendment on the ballot next year.
Public support for the Fair Share Amendment has remained consistently strong over the years. Independent polling conducted by the MassINC Polling Group in December 2020 found that 72 percent of Massachusetts voters support the Fair Share Amendment, while UMass Amherst found in March 2021 that 65 percent of Massachusetts residents support the amendment, including 52 percent who strongly support it.
Raise Up Massachusetts, which has led the campaign for the Fair Share Amendment since 2015, is a coalition of community organizations, faith-based groups, and labor unions committed to building an economy that invests in families, gives everyone the opportunity to succeed, and creates broadly shared prosperity. Since our coalition came together in 2013, we have nearly doubled wages for hundreds of thousands of working people by winning two increases in the state’s minimum wage, won best-in-the-nation earned sick time and paid family and medical leave benefits for workers and their families, and started to build an economy that works for all of us, not just those at the top. Learn more at raiseupma.org.