Massachusetts Legislature Advances Fair Share Act in Constitutional Convention

During a constitutional convention this week, the Massachusetts Legislature voted to amend the Massachusetts Constitution to place an additional 4 percent tax on annual taxable income in excess of $1 million to generate revenues for transportation and educational investments.

The revenue generated – estimated by the Department of Revenue as much as $2.2 billion annually, would fund repair and maintenance projects for roads, bridges or public transportation as well as funding for public education.

“Our Commonwealth is at a turning point, and we must be bold as we strive to create the future we want to see,” said Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). “I’m thrilled the Fair Share Amendment has advanced, moving us one step closer to being able to make the critical investments in transportation and education that the public wants and deserves.”

“This is an important first step toward creating a new revenue stream that will fund critical infrastructure and further support public education,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D-Winthrop). “I appreciate the work of Chair Cusack and Representative O’Day on this issue and look forward to advancing this measure further next session.”

“Today the Legislature took a great step towards fighting income inequality by voting on the Fair Share amendment,” said House Ways and Means Chair Rep. Aaron Michlewitz (D-Boston). “By advancing the amendment we move closer to placing this important issue before the voters of the Commonwealth.”

“Education and transportation infrastructure are two areas that require more investment, and the Fair Share Amendment represents a critical opportunity for us to meet this need,” said Senator Michael J Rodrigues (D-Westport), Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “Now that the door to this new revenue stream has been opened, we are one step closer to ensuring the voters of the Commonwealth will ultimately weigh in on what our next steps should be.”

“One challenge before us is how to keep our economy strong. How do we ensure the benefits of booming industries and regions reach every neighborhood and corner of the Commonwealth,” said Revenue Committee Chair Senator Adam Hinds (D-Pittsfield). “We do that by addressing dampeners on the economy, including by investing in transportation, education, and workforce development.”

“There is widespread agreement that Massachusetts needs increased funding for our education and transportation systems,” said Revenue Committee Chair Representative Mark Cusack (D-Braintree). “This is the first action in the two session process for this particular constitutional amendment to appear in the ballot in 2022 for the people of the commonwealth to decide on this potential new stream of revenue.”

“Today marks the start of improved social and economic outcomes for communities across the Commonwealth,” said Representative James O’Day (D-West Boylston). “Moving forward, the Fair Share Amendment will allow our education systems and transportation infrastructure to be strengthened. By reducing the burden placed on low and middle-income families, the Fair Share Amendment will benefit students, workers, and businesses; ensuring that the Massachusetts economy continues to grow and thrive.”

“The revenues from the Fair Share Amendment will go a long way to increase funding for public schools, make higher education more affordable for students and families, and fix our state’s crumbling roads, bridges and public transportation. Today, more than three quarters of legislators voted to advance the Fair Share Amendment, reflecting the overwhelming public support for this measure,” said Senator Jason Lewis (DWinchester). “The Fair Share Amendment is the best way to make the investments in our Commonwealth that we desperately need in the fairest way possible.”

The income level would be adjusted annually to reflect any increases in the cost of living by the same method used for federal income tax brackets. This would ensure that, over time, the additional 4 percent tax would continue to apply only to the highest earning individuals in the Commonwealth. The tax would apply to all tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2023.

The legislature must approve a constitutional amendment in two consecutive joint sessions, which happen during each two-year legislative session, before the question appears on the ballot for voter approval. If approved, the amendment would go before voters in 2022.

Sarah Bldogett