Beacon Hill Roll Call
Volume 47-Report No. 39
September 26-30, 2022
Copyright © 2022 Beacon Hill Roll Call. All Rights Reserved.
By Bob Katzen
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THE HOUSE AND SENATE: There were no roll calls in the House or Senate last week. This week, Beacon Hill Roll Call begins a look at the ballot questions that will be on the November ballot for voter consideration.
BALLOT QUESTION #1 – INCOME TAX HIKE FOR TAXPAYERS EARNING MORE THAN $1 MILLION PER YEAR
– The first question on the November ballot asks voters if they favor a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow a graduated income tax in Massachusetts and impose an additional 4 percent income tax, in addition to the current flat 5 percent one, on taxpayers’ earnings of more than $1 million annually. Language in the amendment requires that “subject to appropriation” the revenue will go to fund quality public education, affordable public colleges and universities, and for the repair and maintenance of roads, bridges and public transportation.
The proposal is sponsored by Sen. Jason Lewis (D-Winchester) and Rep. James O’Day (D-West Boylston). It qualified to get on the November ballot when it was approved by the 2019-2020 Legislature and then the 2021-2022 Legislature. If voters approve the proposal, it will become part of the state constitution.
The most recent approval was on June 9, 2021 when the House approved the tax hike 121-39 and the Senate approved it 38-2.
The proposal has been dubbed by sponsors as “the Fair Share Amendment.” Opponents reject that label and call it another unnecessary excessive tax.
Supporters say the amendment will affect only 18,000 extremely wealthy individuals and will generate up to $2 billion annually in additional tax revenue. They argue that using the funds for education and for the repair and maintenance of roads, bridges and public transportation will benefit millions of Bay State taxpayers. They note the hike would help lower income families which are now paying a higher share of their income in taxes.
Opponents argue the new tax will result in the loss of 9,500 private sector jobs, $405 million annually in personal disposable income and some millionaires moving out of state. They say that the earmarking of the funds for specific projects is a phony sham and argue all the funds will go into the General Fund and be up for grabs for anything.
“The Fair Share Amendment is a win for all Massachusetts residents,” said O’Day. “That is why the list of small businesses, unions and community organizations that support Question 1 continues to grow. I encourage everyone to visit fairsharema.com, read the text of the amendment and learn more about our efforts. If you’re part of the 99 percent of Massachusetts residents who make less than $1 million a year, your taxes will not change.”
“I am proud to be the lead Senate sponsor of the Fair Share Amendment … because it will make our tax system more equitable by asking the wealthiest households to pay a little bit more, and it will strengthen our economy by investing these funds to improve educational opportunities for all students and help rebuild our aging transportation system,” said Sen. Jason Lewis (D-Winchester).
“Question 1 is a win-win for Massachusetts: only people who earn more than $1 million annually will pay more, and 99 percent of us won’t pay a single penny more,” says Jeron Mariani, campaign manager for Fair Share for Massachusetts. “And we’ll all benefit from $2 billion every year that’s constitutionally dedicated to schools, colleges, roads, bridges and public transportation. That’s why thousands of educators, workers, small business owners, parents, faith leaders, municipal officials, drivers and transit riders are working together to pass Question 1.”
“How many times do voters need to reject a graduated income tax before the insatiable Takers accept their decision?” said Chip Ford, executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation, which led the opposition to and defeat of the last two attempts to impose a graduated income tax in 1976 and 1994. “They won’t be satisfied until they drive out the productive and strangle the golden goose to death. Then who’ll they pillage?”
“Question 1 is one of the state’s highest-ever proposed tax increases at a time when our state already has the biggest budget surplus in its history,” said Dan Cence, spokesperson for No on Question 1. “Proponents claim that it will raise taxes only on Massachusetts’ highest earners, but in reality, Question 1 would nearly double the income tax rate on tens of thousands of small business owners, family farmers, retirees, homeowners and other Massachusetts residents. We feel strongly that Massachusetts voters will recognize the harm that this tax hike will have on our economy and vote No on Question 1.”
“Voters must decide this November, if they will go along with the Legislature’s very deceptive ballot question, which gives them a blank check to spend the new tax on anything they want,” said Paul Craney of the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance. “The deceptive ballot question hopes to raise the income tax by 80 percent on some taxpayers and small business owner that want to retire and sell their business. If taxpayers think an 80 percent income tax increase is just too high, they can send the clearest message this November and vote ‘No’ on Question 1.”
Here’s the official arguments of the supporters and opponents as they appear in the Redbook – the book, distributed by the Secretary of State to households across the state, that provides Information to voters on ballot questions.
Written by Cynthia Roy, Fair Share Massachusetts
“By voting Yes on Question 1, you will make sure that the very richest in Massachusetts—those who make over $1 million a year—pay their fair share. Current tax rules allow multimillionaires to pay a smaller share in taxes than the rest of us. Question 1, the ‘Millionaires’ Tax,’ will make the extremely wealthy pay an additional 4 percent on the portion of their yearly income above $1 million.
The additional money is constitutionally guaranteed to go toward transportation and public education. Question 1 means every child can go to a great school. We can fix our roads, expand access to vocational training, and make public colleges more affordable. Excellent roads and schools help our small businesses grow, create new jobs and build strong communities. Question 1 means creating opportunity for everyone.”
Vote Yes on Question 1. Only the very rich will pay—not the rest of us.”
Written by Paul D’Amore, Small Business Representative
Coalition To Stop the Tax Hike Amendment
“Question 1 nearly doubles the state income tax rate on tens of thousands of small-business owners, large employers and retirees.
Question 1 treats one-time earnings—the sale of homes, investments, businesses, pensions and inheritances—as income. This would suddenly force many residents into the new, very high tax bracket, depleting the nest eggs of small-business owners and longtime homeowners whose retirement depends on their investments.
Record inflation, supply chain difficulties, and continuing COVID-19 issues make now the worst possible time for massive tax increases—especially when Massachusetts already has a giant budget surplus.
There is absolutely no guaranteed revenue from this huge tax hike would actually increase spending on education and transportation. Politicians are giving themselves a blank check, with no accountability.
Organizations representing over 20,000 small businesses and family farmers urge: Vote ‘No’ on Question 1.”
Listed below is how your local state representatives and senators voted on the proposed constitutional amendment on June 9, 2021.
(A “Yes” vote is for the tax hike. A “No” vote is against it.)
Rep. Paul DonatoYes Rep. Steven Ultrino Yes Sen. Jason Lewis Yes
ALSO UP ON BEACON HILL
GRANTS TO PRESERVE VETERANS’ HISTORY – Secretary of State Bll Galvin’s office, in conjunction with the Massachusetts State Historical Records Advisory Board, is offering matching grants of up to $15,000 to cities and towns and non-profit organizations including libraries, historical societies and commissions, museums, schools and colleges, to preserve objects, sites and document collections that are significant to the history and experiences of military veterans in the Bay State.
If applicants submit a satisfactory letter of intent letter of intent by November 6, 2022. they be invited to submit a full application. For more information contact www.sec.state.ma.us/arc/
DESIGNATING JULY 8 AS MASSACHUSETTS EMANCIPATION DAY (H 3117) – The House approved and sent to the Senate a measure, sponsored by Rep. Michelle Ciccolo (D-Lexington) designating July 8 as Massachusetts Emancipation Day also to be known as Quock Walker Day, in recognition of the court ruling that rendered slavery unconstitutional in the commonwealth. Walker, born to enslaved Black parents in Massachusetts, was the driving force behind this ruling.
“The inspiration for this bill comes from Sean Osborn, a Lexington resident and historian who founded the Association of Black Citizens of Lexington (ABCL),” said Rep. Ciccolo. “I am looking forward to annually commemorating Quock Walker’s significant place in our state’s history.”.
NATIONAL DWARFISM AWARENESS DAY (H 5321) – The House approved and sent to the Senate legislation establishing October 25 as Dwarfism Awareness Day. Supporters say that around the world people with dwarfism face social and physical barriers. They note that October 25 was chosen as the day for Dwarfism Awareness Day because it was the birthday of Billy Barty who was an American actor who had dwarfism, and in 1957 set up Little People of America—an organization that supports people with dwarfism as well as raising awareness about the issue.
Sponsor Rep. Jim Hawkins (D-Attleboro), a retired teacher from Attleboro High School, filed the measure after a request by former student Vicki Ziniti who has dwarfism. “She has organized an advocacy group of people with dwarfism and asked me about the possibility for ‘National Dwarfism Day’ in the commonwealth. Since graduating, Vicki has gotten her teaching certification and is a classroom teacher so you know we were excited to file this legislation and advocate for its passage.”
“While there may be health complications involved with dwarfism we need to treat people with dwarfism equally with others,” continued Hawkins. “This holiday will be to celebrate the significant accomplishments and contributions to our community from people with dwarfism.
“The MCAS results released today are anything but surprising. Massachusetts students are showing the cumulative impact of trauma, given a pandemic that has brought staggering losses to families and communities—including the deaths of loved ones.”
—MTA President Max Page on the disappointing results of the MCAS tests.
“It is concerning that our sales are decreasing, especially given the type and quality of products we’re putting out in the market. But I will say that this is a trend that the entire country is seeing with the lottery. I think everyone is aware of what’s going on in the world financially with inflation and stuff, and so we’re going to be looking at some ways to see if we can make some changes to adjust to the current market structure.”
— Interim Lottery Executive Director Mark William Bracken noting that Lottery sales in August were down $35.9 million or 6.4 percent compared to August 2021,
“All of us, Democrats and Republicans, started talking about the consequences here in the Northeast over the summer and wrote to the Biden administration, met with the Biden administration and gave them a variety of things that we thought they could do that would help us on both price and reliability for our residents this winter. There are some things we’re hoping the feds will do to help us.”
—Gov. Baker urging the federal government to step up to help New Englanders likely to be hurt by high electric and heating bills this winter.
“This settlement is a significant result in our work to protect taxpayer dollars and the integrity of our MassHealth program. We are pleased to secure these funds to help control Medicaid costs and ensure that state resources are directed to the best possible uses in our health care system.”
—Attorney General Maura Healey on a $14 million settlement with the nation’s largest Medicaid managed care insurer to resolve claims that it overcharged the state Medicaid program, MassHealth, millions of dollars for pharmacy benefits and services provided by subsidiary companies.
HOW LONG WAS LAST WEEK’S SESSION? Beacon Hill Roll Call tracks the length of time that the House and Senate were in session each week. Many legislators say that legislative sessions are only one aspect of the Legislature’s job and that a lot of important work is done outside of the House and Senate chambers. They note that their jobs also involve committee work, research, constituent work and other matters that are important to their districts. Critics say that the Legislature does not meet regularly or long enough to debate and vote in public view on the thousands of pieces of legislation that have been filed. They note that the infrequency and brief length of sessions are misguided and lead to irresponsible late-night sessions and a mad rush to act on dozens of bills in the days immediately preceding the end of an annual session.
During the week of September 26-30, the House met for a total of 30 minutes and the Senate met for a total of 14 minutes.
Mon. Sept. 26 House 11:01 a.m. to 11:15 a.m.
Senate 11:10 a.m. to 11:18 a.m.
Tues. Sept. 27 No House session
No Senate session
Wed. Sept. 28 No House session
No Senate session
Thurs. Sept. 29 House 11:01 a.m. to 11:17 a.m.
Senate 11:16 a.m. to 11:22 a.m.
Fri. Sept. 30 No House session
No Senate session
Bob Katzen welcomes feedback at email@example.com Bob founded Beacon Hill Roll Call in 1975 and was inducted into the New England Newspaper and Press Association (NENPA) Hall of Fame in 2019.