Massachusetts voters have a chance to tax the 1% for education and transportation

Massachusetts voters have a chance to tax the 1% for education and transportation

With Republican-controlled states in a highly competitive race to the bottom in looking for ways to take away rights, strip supports from struggling families, and gut public education, wouldn’t it be nice if states controlled by Democrats would bring a fraction of that urgency to improving government and helping people? In Massachusetts, voters will have a chance this November to fund the state’s schools, roads and bridges, and public transit through a tax on income over $1 million a year.

If it passes, the Fair Share Amendment will generate up to $2 billion a year for those investments in the public good through a tax on the state’s top 1% of earners. The 4% additional tax would only apply to income over $1 million a year, so someone with $1,000,001 in income would just pay an extra four cents.

Kurt Wise of the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center has noted that the Fair Share Amendment would advance racial justice since the top 1% of households are disproportionately white—86% compared with 73% of the state’s households overall. While the new tax would affect 0.8% of white households, it would affect only 0.4% of Black households and 0.2% of Latino households. But the revenue collected would go to education for all kids, and roads and bridges and public transit used by anyone traveling through the state. 

As Massachusetts has spent less per student on public higher education, tuition has risen and the burden of paying for college has shifted to individual students and their families, often in the form of student loans—which, as we know, are disproportionately held by Black borrowers. The Fair Share Amendment’s investment in higher education could help the next generation of students avoid some of those loans.

There are more than 600 structurally deficient bridges in Massachusetts. The money from the Fair Share Amendment could go to them, as well as to the state’s struggling public transportation systems, including the commuter rail that makes it possible—but not always easy—for many people to travel between jobs in the high-cost-of-living Boston area and more affordable places to live. That commuter rail system is also currently diesel, and should be electrified.

Massachusetts should be doing better. This is the chance. Start talking to your friends and family who can vote in Massachusetts right now. An extra 4% on income over $1 million a year, affecting less than 1% of taxpayers, could change the state.

Here’s an endorsement from Sen. Ed Markey.

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