Raise Up MA Coalition Responds to Statewide Poll Showing Overwhelming Support for Key Budget & Revenue Measures
BOSTON – A statewide survey of Massachusetts voters, released today by the MassINC Polling Group and sponsored by a number of local foundations and nonprofit advocacy groups, found overwhelming public support for emergency paid sick time, the Fair Share Amendment, and raising the tax rate on corporate profits.
The Raise Up Massachusetts coalition of community groups, faith-based organizations, and labor unions, which leads the campaign to pass the Fair Share Amendment and has advocated for both emergency paid sick time and increased taxes on corporate profits throughout the pandemic, hailed the results as a confirmation of public support for the budget and revenue measures. Raise Up Massachusetts was not involved in the development or commissioning of the MassINC poll.
“This independent poll confirms that voters share our calls for action: Massachusetts needs emergency paid sick time now, and it’s time for multimillionaires and profitable corporations to pay their fair share,” said Cindy Rowe, Executive Director of the Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action (JALSA) and a member of the Raise Up Massachusetts steering committee. “As momentum builds on Beacon Hill to pass emergency paid sick time and as legislators begin developing the next state budget, they should know that the overwhelming majority of voters agree on what they need from state government, and on how to pay for it.”
In the MassINC poll, 84 percent of Massachusetts voters agreed that all workers should have 10 days of emergency paid sick time during the pandemic. 58 percent of workers strongly supported the policy, more than any other pandemic relief measure other than ‘emergency funding for COVID testing and vaccination.’ Among Black voters in the poll, emergency paid sick time was the number one pandemic relief priority. Nationwide and in Massachusetts, Black workers are overrepresented in frontline industries and more likely to be exposed to the coronavirus at work.
“It’s clear that voters understand the incredible importance of emergency paid sick time as a public health tool to fight the pandemic,” said Janine Carreiro, the new Executive Director of the Massachusetts Communities Action Network and a member of the Raise Up Massachusetts steering committee. “With a new highly transmissible coronavirus strain likely present in our state, ensuring that workers can afford to stay home from work if they have symptoms or have been exposed to the virus has never been more important.”
On revenue, the MassINC poll found that a strong majority of voters, across all income levels, believe upper-income residents and large businesses pay too little in taxes. Consistent with that view, the poll found that 72 percent of voters support the Fair Share Amendment, a four percent tax on income over $1 million dollars with the revenue dedicated to transportation and public education, and that 68 percent support raising the tax rate on corporate profits.
“Voters understand that multimillionaires and large corporations have benefitted from decades of tax cuts and loopholes, and they see the same wealthy people and corporations continue to profit amid the pain of the pandemic,” said Max Page, Vice President of the Massachusetts Teachers Association and a member of the Raise Up Massachusetts steering committee. “We have such a great need for new revenue, from funding the promise we made to the Commonwealth’s kids with the Student Opportunity Act, to avoiding service cuts at the MBTA and regional transit authorities, to reinvesting in public higher education as a key vehicle for greater racial and economic justice, to meeting the enormous needs Massachusetts residents have for food, housing, and heating assistance. Voters agree on how these priorities should be funded: multimillionaires and profitable corporations need to finally pay their fair share.”
Background on Emergency Paid Sick Time
Massachusetts’ Earned Sick Time law, passed by the voters in 2014, provides 40 hours of paid sick time yearly, but that sick time must be accumulated over time, and for thousands of workers this isn’t enough to meet the scale and impact of this public health crisis. The federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) provided 10 days of additional paid sick time for many workers, and it made a real difference: states that gained access to paid sick time under the FFCRA experienced about 400 fewer cases of COVID-19 per day, according to research from Cornell University and the Swiss Economic Institute. But the FFCRA had big coverage gaps that left millions of front-line workers without paid sick time, including workers at companies with more than 500 employees, and many employees of health care and residential facilities. The Center for American Progress estimates that at least 1.8 million workers in Massachusetts were not covered by the FFCRA’s paid sick time protections.
To ensure that those workers do not feel pressure to go to work when they may be infectious, the Raise Up Massachusetts coalition of community organizations, faith-based groups, and labor unions has worked for months to pass state legislation that would cover the gap in federal law, providing ten additional work-days of job-protected emergency paid sick time to Massachusetts employees not covered by the federal FFCRA’s paid sick time provisions. But despite bipartisan supermajority support in both chambers of the Legislature, the proposal did not come up for a vote in the 2020 legislative session.
Now, the situation has gotten worse: the FFCRA’s paid sick time protections expired at the end of December, leaving all Massachusetts workers without access to emergency paid sick time benefits if they contract or are exposed to COVID-19. Massachusetts’s new paid family and medical leave program, which took effect January 1, allows workers with serious medical problems as a result of COVID-19 to receive partial wage replacement if they take significant time off from work to recover. However, the new program has a one-week waiting period to receive wage replacement benefits, which means it will not help lower-income workers who cannot afford to miss an entire week of pay to isolate or quarantine. They need emergency paid sick time now.
Background on Fair Share Taxes
Massachusetts requires new revenue to invest in the public services needed to recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, like emergency paid sick time, food assistance, and eviction prevention. We need new investments in our public education, child care, and transportation systems in order to lift our economy into an equitable recovery. Budget cuts would only worsen the effects of this downturn and further harm the people and communities who are already disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, especially people of color, immigrants, and low-income communities.
For years, multi-millionaires and large corporations have used low rates, tax breaks, and loopholes to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. The highest-income households in Massachusetts – those in the top 1 percent – pay a smaller share of their income in state and local taxes than any other income group. And just in the last four years, large corporations have received federal tax cuts worth billions of dollars a year in Massachusetts alone.
While countless people and small businesses suffer during this crisis, many large corporations are making record profits, and multi-millionaire investors have seen their net worth skyrocket. 17 out of America’s top 25 corporations – including Apple, Comcast, Facebook, Johnson & Johnson, Microsoft, Pfizer, Oracle, Verizon and Visa – are making extraordinary profits during the pandemic, according to an Oxfam analysis. The 19 billionaires in MA saw their wealth increase by a total of $17 billion during the first three months of the pandemic. It’s time that multimillionaires and profitable corporations pay their fair share to support our economic recovery.
In order to meet the long-term revenue needs of the Commonwealth in an equitable way, the Raise Up Massachusetts coalition has led the campaign for the Fair Share Amendment, which would amend the Massachusetts Constitution to create an additional tax of four percentage points on the portion of a person’s annual income above $1 million, with the new revenue dedicated to investments in transportation and public education. 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. In order to raise significant new revenue this year for investments in our recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Raise Up Massachusetts coalition supports increasing the tax rate on corporate profits and taxing corporate profits shifted overseas by increasing the tax rate on GILTI (Global Intangible Low Taxed Income).
Raise Up Massachusetts is a coalition of community groups, faith-based organizations, 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, led the campaign for the Fair Share Amendment to invest in transportation and public education, and started to build an economy that works for all of us, not just those at the top. Learn more at raiseupma.org.