Democratic State Representative Explains Opposition To Massachusetts Millionaires’ Tax

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Why would a Democrat oppose a millionaires’ tax?

Nine Democratic state representatives in Massachusetts went against their party and voted against sending the Fair Share Amendment to the November 2022 statewide ballot. If enacted, the measure will amend the Massachusetts Constitution to increase the marginal tax rate on household incomes over $1 million in Massachusetts from 5 percent to 9 percent — an 80 percent increase.

NewBostonPost reached out to all nine of the Democrats who voted against the proposal last week to see why they voted against it but did not hear back from any of them. NewBostonPost then contacted them all again on Wednesday morning and heard back from state Representative Chris Markey (D-Dartmouth). He explained his opposition to the amendment in a telephone interview.

“I have consistently voted against it. I just don’t think it’s good economic policy and the mere fact that it’s taken six years to get it on the ballot just sort of indicates there’s no flexibility to it for a very long time. I think our tax policy needs to be flexible depending on the times,” Markey said. “I’m not afraid to raise taxes. I think we should. I’ve filed a bill to raise it back to 5.3 percent which would raise $900 million. I just don’t like the idea of tax policy being set like that in the Constitution.”

The bill Markey filed to raise the income tax rate back up to 5.3 percent is H.3001 (titled “An Act Relative To Income Tax Rates”).

Some opponents of the millionaires’ tax predict that rich people in Massachusetts will move out of state, perhaps to New Hampshire, which doesn’t have a state income tax, or to Rhode Island, where the state income tax is progressive but tops out at 5.99 percent. Markey’s Ninth Bristol District, which includes the town of Dartmouth and a portion of central New Bedford, is one town over from the Rhode Island border.

But Markey said his concern isn’t about millionaires moving out of the state.

“I don’t think that,” he said. “I just think you’re asking for a lot of money from very few people and I don’t think that’s what tax policy should be. It should be spread amongst everybody. And I also think we should expand the earned income tax credit so that the less fortunate don’t have to pay as much; I think that should be a little higher and that it’s the fair thing to do.”

The other Democratic state representatives who voted against the Fair Share Amendment are Brian Ashe (D-Longmeadow), Ann-Margaret Ferrante (D-Gloucester), Michael Finn (D-West Springfield), William Galvin (D-Canton), Colleen Garry (D-Dracut), Angelo Puppolo (D-Springfield), Paul A. Schmid III (D-Westport), and Jonathan Zlotnik (D-Gardner).

The measure, Massachusetts House Bill 86, is titled “Proposal for a Legislative Amendment To the Constitution To Provide Resources For Education and Transportation Through An Additional Tax On Incomes In Excess of One Million Dollars.” All 200 state legislators (16o in the House, 40 in the Senate) met as a constitutional convention on Wednesday, June 9. The measure prevailed 159-41.

All Republicans in the Massachusetts Legislature voted against the millionaires’ tax except one:  state Senator Patrick O’Connor (R-Weymouth). O’Connor could not be reached for comment last week or on Wednesday this week.


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