Citizens petition clears first hurdle, would invest almost $2 billion in education and transportation if passed
BOSTON-Senator Eldridge (D-Acton) joined over 70 percent of his colleagues in the Massachusetts legislature in voting 135 to 57 to advance the Fair Share constitutional amendment, initiated by a citizens’ petition, which would assess an additional 4% surtax on individual annual income over one million dollars. The constitutional amendment also includes language that would require the legislature to allocate the increased revenue solely on education and transportation needs. The next step in the legislative process is the Fair Share amendment being voted on in the 2017-2018 legislative session, and if passed again, would go to the ballot for voters to decide in November 2018.
“Better educated children, from universal pre-K to affordable college education and a 21st-century transportation system for all are critical for a better quality of life, expanded opportunities, and an economy that works for all Massachusetts residents, ,” said Senator Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton). “Today the Legislature voted in favor of making our tax code a more equitable and fair system that is critically needed to fund serious deficiencies in our transportation infrastructure and education system. A progressive income tax is needed to create key investments in our communities and is a step in the right direction for Massachusetts.”
The amendment specifically states that the 4% income tax will only apply to individual annual income starting at $1 million. Any income less that $1 million would be taxed at the current state income tax rate of 5.1%. According to the Department of Revenue, the proposed amendment would affect approximately 14,000 Massachusetts residents and will raise between $1.4 and $2.2 billion annually, earmarked specifically for education and transportation.
In addition, the rising cost of college education has hindered the ability of younger generations to afford a college education without exorbitant amounts of student debt. Before 1987, a student working a minimum wage job could pay their way through UMass Amherst without any debt.
Today, the average UMass Amherst student who takes out student loans to pay for school is graduating with over $30,000 in student debt, and the average graduate of Bridgewater State with loans leaves school with over $32,000 in student debt.
Under the Massachusetts constitution a proposed constitutional amendment must be approved by one quarter of all elected members of the legislature, which is currently 50 votes. The legislature must approve the amendment in two consecutive joint sessions, which happen during each two year legislative session, before the question appears on the ballot for voter approval. With today’s vote, the amendment moves to the next join session before being placed on the ballot in 2018.