High Court Decision on Millionaires’ Surtax Ballot Question Nearing

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2018/06/09/high-court-decision-on-millionaires-surtax-ballot-question-nearing/

State House News Service

Negotiators trying to assemble a “grand bargain” to settle sales tax reduction, paid family, and medical leave benefits, and a minimum wage increase appear on the verge of receiving a piece of information that’s potentially critical to their talks.  The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court appears to be taking its full allotment of time to render a decision on whether a citizen-backed constitutional amendment imposing a 4 percent surtax on household income above $1 billion is properly certified for the November ballot, or should be discarded without a vote.

But just as negotiators on the three initiative petitions are looking at early July as their deadline for a deal, time is also running out on the high court, which aims to render decisions on cases it hears within 115 to 130 days of oral arguments. A standing order says that cases “should be decided within 130 days after argument” and both sides squared off in oral arguments on February 6.  The 130-day mark falls on Saturday, June 16.

Opponents of the 4 percent surtax on incomes over $1 million argue that the format of the amendment violates the state constitution by bundling multiple unrelated policies into one question. Supporters of the question say it could raise roughly $2 billion that would be directed to pay for transportation and education.

The case filed by leaders of business groups is called Christopher Anderson & others v. Maura Healey & another.

At 8 a.m. through its Twitter feed, the Office of the Reporter of Decisions notifies the public of decisions that will be published two hours later at 10 a.m. every weekday.

The proposed sales tax cut is worth about $1.2 billion a year, and negotiators weighing multiple ballot proposals, each carrying significant fiscal and economic implications, are eagerly awaiting the SJC’s ruling. The supporters of the $15 minimum wage and paid leave ballot proposals plan a “week of action,” starting with a 2 p.m. rally on Monday, June 11.