Massachusetts Millionaires’ Surtax Going on Ballot … If Court Challenge Fails

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By Michael P. Norton


BOSTON — Massachusetts House and Senate Democrats banded together Wednesday to take a second critical vote needed to secure a spot on the November 2018 statewide ballot for a proposed income surtax, but opponents of the measure may try to derail it through a court challenge.

With only 50 votes required to advance the constitutional amendment, the measure advanced on a 134-55 vote.

Supporters said the measure would lock in around $2 billion for needed investments in education and transportation and ensure that the highest-earning residents of Massachusetts pay their “fair share” in income taxes.

“With the Fair Share Amendment on the ballot, we now have a once-in-a-generation chance to make critical investments in transportation and public education that increase economic opportunity for the people of Massachusetts,” Lew Finfer, co-chair of Raise Up Massachusetts, the coalition pushing the amendment, said in a statement.

Opponents say the Legislature is abrogating its responsibility to appropriate funds, warn the measure could backfire if wealthy residents move out of state, and claim the measure is “likely unconstitutional,” as state Senator Bruce Tarr put it.

“The proposed historic tax increase represents an unprecedented move to shelter elected politicians from accountability for taxation and spending policies,” Massachusetts High Technology Council President Christopher Anderson said in a statement released immediately after the vote. “But before the special-interest-backed measure, which would prove disastrous to our goals of economic growth and job creation, heads to the ballot — it must first pass constitutional muster. We believe it will fail that test.”

Governor Charlie Baker has yet to stake out a position on the measure and Democratic Party officials on Wednesday said the governor should “stop waffling.”