The ‘Millionaires’ Tax’ Jumps Its First Hurdle On Its Way To Voters

Proponents of a so-called millionaires’ tax won a major victory at the State House Wednesday. In a nearly three-hour Constitutional Convention—a joint session of the House and Senate that vets proposed amendments to the Massachusetts Constitution—the proposed measure received 135 votes, more than enough to move to the next stage of the amendment process.

If a proposed constitutional amendment receives the backing of at least 50 of the state’s 200 legislators in two consecutive years, the measure is then placed before the general public for a vote. If the millionaires’ tax is approved at a Constitutional Convention next year, voters will have the final say in 2018.

Right now, all Massachusetts voters pay an identical income-tax rate of 5.1 percent. If passed, the proposed amendment would place an additional tax of 4 percent on all income over $1 million—to “provide the resources for quality public education…affordable public colleges and universities, and…the repair and maintenance of roads, bridges and public transportation.”

The new tax would raise about $2 billion annually.

 

Before the vote was cast, Rep. Jay Kaufman of Lexington, the co-chair of the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Revenue, spoke in favor of the proposed amendment.

“We can’t get to work without broken axles on the roads that are in bad repair,” Kaufman said. “We can’t avoid bridges that are in jeopardy of collapsing, and we can’t get the [MBTA] and other public transportation modes to run on time and safely. That’s a serious problem for all of us as citizens, and it’s a serious problem for our economy.”

“We do not have universal pre-K education in the Commonwealth,” he added. “We do not have a public higher-education system that allows our citizens to graduate without enormously burdensome debt.”

There was sharp pushback from several Republican legislators, however. Sen. Bruce Tarr of Gloucester, the Senate minority leader, said voters have previously rejected attempts to alter the Massachusetts Constitution to implement a graduated income tax—and warned that if the millionaire’s tax becomes a reality, the state’s most affluent residents will simply find ways to avoid it.

“[We’ve] isolated a select group of taxpayers who happen to be among the most mobile in the Commonwealth, in terms of their ability to move capital, to move their residence, and to avoid taxation altogether,” Tarr said.

Rep. Brad Jones of North Reading, the House minority leader, offered two proposals of his own in lieu of the millionaire’s tax. One would have set the state’s income-tax rate at a flat 5 percent—a shift that was backed by voters in 2000, but which the Legislature never fully implemented. Another would have dropped the income-tax rate to 5 percent, while also allowing an extra 4 percent tax on income over $1 million.

Neither received sufficient votes to pass.

Jones also proposed imposing an iron-clad requirement that any revenue raised by a millionaire’s tax be spent on education and transportation, and not diverted to other purposes. Such a provision, he said, would convince skeptics that the millionaire’s tax isn’t a “Trojan tax horse” aimed at creating a graduated income-tax system.

That proposal failed as well.

Throughout the Constitutional Convention, legislators speaking in favor and in opposition of the millionaires’ tax struggled to be heard over the din created by their colleagues, many of whom engaged in loud conversation throughout the event. Senate President Stan Rosenberg, who presided over the event, repeatedly asked for quiet, but any effect his entreaties had was short lived.

After the Constitutional Convention adjourned, Kaufman told WGBH News that he was gratified by the proposed amendment’s emphatic margin of passage.

“I was surprised, but not very surprised,” he said. “By the time debate began today, I was cautiously optimistic that we would get two-thirds’ vote, which was much higher than I would have guessed a few months ago … Getting to 70 percent surprises me and pleases me to no end.”

 

– See more at: https://news.wgbh.org/2016/05/18/local-news/millionaires-tax-jumps-its-first-hurdle-its-way-voters#sthash.V0Rn7GbD.dpuf

MASS. LAWMAKERS ADVANCE SURTAX ON MILLIONAIRES WITH 135-57 VOTE

State House News

Minority Leader Rep. Brad Jones spoke on the House floor during debate on the so-called millionaire’s tax to defend multiple amendments he filed. [Photo Courtesy: House Broadcasting]

 

Citing the need for new tax revenues and more fairness in tax policy, Massachusetts lawmakers voted 135-57 Wednesday to advance a constitutional amendment designed to generate $1.9 billion for education and transportation by assessing a new 4 percent surtax on households with incomes above $1 million. Before recessing their Constitutional Convention until July 13, senators voted 33-7 in favor of the amendment, with House members voting 102-50. Only 50 votes were needed to advance the proposal.

 

Meet the Dirty Dozen

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ACTION ALERT: The Dirty Dozen are led by Committee Chairs Jay Kaufman and Michael Rodrigues. The other ten members are Denise Provost, James Arciero, James Timilty, Thomas Stanley, Timothy Toomey, Benjamin Downing, Eric Lesser, Alan Silvia, Daniel Wolf and James Dwyer. On January 28th, these twelve lawmakers voted in the Joint Committee on Revenue for an 80 percent tax hike, and the entire Legislature is scheduled to vote on the measure on Wednesday at the Constitutional Convention.

The stakes are high. We need your help with advocating against the new tax. Let us give you some background.

Opposition to the proposed tax scheme grows daily. Some oppose it because it is poorly written. The measure writes into the state constitution specific language on income thresholds and earmarked revenue. Others oppose the new tax because it raises the rate for top earners to 9.1 percent. The effect of the increase will likely be disastrous. High-wage industries won’t see our state as a friendly place to build, and the best and brightest will be driven away.

Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance opposes the graduated income tax proposal. The current flat tax on income builds in protection from economic downturns and ensures fairness.

The Dirty Dozen call it a millionaire’s tax. We call it what it is: an 80 percent tax hike on the state’s economic leaders. The Dirty Dozen love to quietly pervert the tax code, and we won’t let that happen. Working in secret is their top strategy for kow-towing to special interests at the expense of a healthy Massachusetts economy, so Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance will scream their intentions from the rooftops.

As part of a grassroots strategy against the graduated income tax, constituents of State Representative Jay Kaufman and Senator Michael Rodrigues, leaders of the pro-tax hike effort, received educational mailers from us explaining how these two are working to pass the enormous tax increase. To view a copy of our mailer, visit our homepage at: www.MassFiscal.org.

To take part in the grassroots campaign against the 80 percent tax hike, contact your lawmakers and urge them to oppose the graduated income tax.

Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance · 18 Tremont St, Suite 707, Boston, MA 02108, United States
This email was sent to vwormell@earthlink.net. To stop receiving emails, click here.
You can also keep up with Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance on Twitter or Facebook.

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Massachusetts’ Millionaires Tax

Editorial to the Lawrence Eagle Tribune

Over the past several years, there are two words that have, more than any other, sent Massachusetts lawmakers scurrying for cover: “tax increase.”

This state shed its infamous “Taxachusetts” moniker many years ago, when lawmakers rolled back a number of onerous taxes that had made the state a pariah for many companies and individuals. Every year for the past several years, top lawmakers such as House Speaker Bob DeLeo have expressed the sentiment that there is “no appetite” on Beacon Hill for tax hikes.

The tax rollbacks and the Legislature’s stand on taxes is a strategy that has made this state more competitive. Boston is one of the top 15 creators of new-economy jobs in the nation, according to Bloomberg.

A well-considered tax strategy can lead to job growth and economic expansion, and a habit of sticking to the strategy is something that long-term business investors seek.

But for some lawmakers, the old habits die hard. Take longtime state solon and current Senate President Stanley Rosenberg, for example.

The Amherst Democrat, speaking before a crowd of labor union representatives this week, trumpeted his support for a graduated income tax that would place a 4 percent surcharge on anyone who earns more than $1 million per year. You can sure more and more people will wind up paying the surcharge as legislators tinker with the tax code once the flat income tax is replaced by the grad tax.

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That money — perhaps $2 billion initially — would be used to create good-paying middle-class jobs and pay for better education, said Rosenberg. More money for road repairs and teachers, that’s the promise. Cue the thunderous applause.

Ah, yes, the rich. They don’t pay enough. Make them pay more. It plays well with many audiences, probably most audiences these days.

But this simplistic “solution” is a worn-out platitude to the working middle class. It feeds the worst impulses of politicians and the public, and in the end, it doesn’t accomplish what Rosenberg and other supporters claim.

If the surcharge were to pass, Massachusetts would regain its Taxachusetts reputation. It would have the third-highest graduated income tax rate in the nation, according to the State House News Service. Its impact on job growth is something that is harder to determine, but certainly it would give pause to start-up executives who want to locate in the Northeast. Consider, for example, that although Boston placed No. 15 in the nation for high-tech job creation in Bloomberg’s study, Manchester, New Hampshire, placed No. 6. Part of the reason for its high ranking is its tax policy. New Hampshire, which has no state income tax or sales tax, will no doubt use the millionaires’ tax to lure more businesses over the border.

The bigger problem for Bay Staters is the way that Rosenberg and other top lawmakers have punted down the road one of the worst fiscal problems in the state — the cost of universal health care, or MassHealth. A decade ago, when Massachusetts became the first state in the nation to pass universal health care, lawmakers failed to take action on a known ramification, controlling costs. Politically, it’s far easier to just pass the costs on to taxpayers, rather than face an office full of angry lobbyists.

As a result, the amount of money that taxpayers shell into the health care system is growing wildly. It now consumes half of all state spending, and most of the new tax revenue being generated annually is being fed into it, according to the Massachusetts Tax Foundation, a budget watchdog group. Little wonder why we have no money left over to put toward increased spending on schools and roads.

The problem with MassHealth will be punted even further down the road if Rosenberg gets his graduated income tax. With such a huge influx of money, there’s even less incentive to fix the spending problems.

The “tax the rich” mantra is the battle cry of politicians who lack the fortitude to take on the tough problems they had a hand in creating.

Please see the earlier post dated January 29, 2016 to view the list of representatives in favor of the bill (H3933). Representative Arciero is on the list. House Bill 3933 is a MA Constitutional Amendment that reads:

Amendment Article XLIV of the Massachusetts Constitution is hereby amended by adding the following paragraph at the end thereof:

To provide the resources for quality public education and affordable public colleges and universities, and for the repair and maintenance of roads, bridges and public transportation, all revenues received in accordance with this paragraph shall be expended, subject to appropriation, only for these purposes. In addition to the taxes on income otherwise authorized under this Article, there shall be an additional tax of 4 percent on that portion of annual taxable income in excess of $1,000,000 (one million dollars) reported on any return related to those taxes. To ensure that this additional tax continues to apply only to the commonwealth’s highest income residents, this $1,000,000 (one million dollar) income level shall be adjusted annually to reflect any increases in the cost of living by the same method used for federal income tax brackets. This paragraph shall apply to all tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2019.

This amendment will be heard in Joint Session on May 18, 2016.

 

Barbara Anderson, Prop 2 1/2 author, passes

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Taxpayer champion Barbara Anderson dies at 73

Citizens for Limited Taxation announces with deep sadness the passing of Barbara C. Anderson on April 8, 2016.  Barbara was 73 and had been battling leukemia for several months.

For the past forty years Barbara Anderson was a relentless advocate for taxpayers across Massachusetts.  Her accomplishments included leading the campaign for property tax relief for which she was called “The Mother of Proposition 2½,” repeal of the state income tax surtax, defeat of the graduated income tax ballot question, and the rollback of the “temporary” state income tax increase.

Barbara was a recognized and outspoken grassroots activist for decades; a co-host with Howie Carr and Jerry Williams (WRKO) on his weekly “The Governors” program during the Gov. Dukakis era; a frequent guest and commentator across the media; and a weekly columnist forThe Salem News and The Eagle-Tribune Publishing Company.

Barbara retired as executive director of CLT last year, but stayed on in a less demanding capacity, still participating daily with the organization that was her life.

Barbara Anderson leaves behind her partner of twenty years, Chip Ford, a son Lance and daughter-in-law Mary of Nevada and their twin teenage children, Aidan and Mariah, grandchildren who she adored.

Per her request, no services are planned at this time.

 

McGaha and Galvin support elected delegates

Marty Lamb explains why elected delegates are important to Republicans in his letter to RedMassGroup. Like Lamb, McGaha and Galvin are strong supporters of elected delegates and worked tirelessly in Middlesex County to “Tank the Gas Tax.”

LAMB WILL SUPPORT PEOPLE NOT BACKROOM DEALS

Lamb for State Committee

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT:
February 16, 2016 Marty Lamb 617-513-4368

LAMB WILL SUPPORT PEOPLE
NOT BACKROOM DEALS

Holliston, MA …Today Marty Lamb, candidate for Republican State Committee, announced that he supports electing delegates to the national convention via caucuses. His opponent voted to take away that right and have delegates appointed.

“I would never take away the people’s right to vote. I believe that it is important to elect delegates to the national convention via caucuses. We need to keep the process open,” said Lamb.

Last year the 80 members of the Republican State Committee voted on an effort to end caucuses to elect delegates to the national convention and have delegates appointed. During the previous caucus selections, leaders of the party tried to overturn the results of the caucus because they felt the right people were not elected. To keep tight control of the delegate selection, an effort to stop the caucuses was attempted, and fortunately, failed.

“As a member of the State Committee, I will work to open up the process. I will always support the will of the people not the insiders,” said Lamb. “My only allegiance will be to the people. We don’t want any backroom deals. Just look at what is happening on the Democrat side. Last week, Hillary Clinton lost New Hampshire, but they are giving her the super delegates. Let’s keep the system honest.”

Lamb is promising to be a State Committeeman for the people. He has the proven track record. In 2014 he was the co-chairman of the successful effort to repeal automatic gas tax hikes which is saving taxpayers $2 billion. He organized the all-volunteer effort to get 146,000 signatures to out the initiative on the ballot. It was one of only 3 ballot questions nationwide to use only volunteers.

Lamb was also a leader in the successful effort to prohibit tax dollars for the Olympics. Due to Lamb’s willingness to step forward again, the plans for the Boston Olympics were dropped saving taxpayers tens of billions of dollars.

Lamb is endorsed by State Representative Geoff Diehl, Celeste Wilson, the former President of the Massachusetts Federation of Republican Women, and so many more grassroots activists.

Republican State Committee members are elected in March during the presidential primary. There are 2 members elected from each Senatorial district for the 80 member board that governs the GOP within Massachusetts.

 

Arciero Votes for Millionaires Tax

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Committee approves millionaires tax

Would impose 4% surtax on income over $1m

STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

THE LEGISLATURE’S COMMITTEE ON REVENUE on Thursday morning gave its stamp of approval to a proposed constitutional amendment that would establish a 4 percent surtax on income in excess of $1 million in a bid to raise $1.9 billion.

The proposal (H 3933) seeks to raise additional revenue for education and transportation initiatives by hiking the tax rate for earnings in excess of $1 million to about 9 percent.

Revenue Committee Chair Rep. Jay Kaufman on Thursday praised the Raise Up coalition, who spearheaded the effort for the constitutional amendment, in remarks following a favorable vote on the measure.

Without debate on the matter, the committee voted 12-4 to recommend that the bill ought to pass.Rep. Walter Timilty, a Milton Democrat, joined Republicans Sen. Ryan Fattman, Rep. Randy Hunt and Rep. Shawn Dooley in voting to recommend that the bill should not pass.

[Watch: Revenue Committee Vote]Supporters pressed lawmakers last week to advance the proposal, arguing that the “fair share amendment” would allow the state to put money into transportation projects and education without hitting the middle class with a tax hike.

Raise Up Massachusetts, the group behind the proposed amendment, has estimated the surtax would affect 14,000 individuals, generating between $1.3 billion and $1.4 billion in additional revenue, while the Department of Revenue estimated a higher yield of $1.6 billion to $2.2 billion with $1.9 billion as the median.

Opponents argued that the amendment would have serious consequences that are

Revenue Committee Chair Rep. Jay Kaufman on Thursday praised the Raise Up coalition, who spearheaded the effort for the constitutional amendment, in remarks following a favorable vote on the measure. [Photo: Antonio Caban/SHNS]

Revenue Committee Chair Rep. Jay Kaufman on Thursday praised the Raise Up coalition, who spearheaded the effort for the constitutional amendment, in remarks following a favorable vote on the measure. [Photo: Antonio Caban/SHNS]

not being considered by proponents, like the possible outward migration of Bay State millionaires and the impact on the state budget of the associated decline in capital gains taxes.“On principle, one thing I believe is that you don’t raise people up by tearing others down,” Fattman, who said he would be drafting the minority report, said after the committee vote. “An income tax the way it is is a fair tax and everyone pays the same thing, so in principle, when we talk about fairness, I think that’s fair.”

Fattman also said that if the amendment were to become law, it could dissuade corporations from choosing to base themselves in Massachusetts.“We just attracted GE to come here and I don’t think it makes sense to give anybody any questions about where we’re going as a state with the business climate. We want to make sure that we continue to attract people,” he said.

Rep. Jay Kaufman, co-chair of the Revenue Committee, praised the work of the Raise Up Massachusetts coalition in gathering the signatures necessary to get the proposal before the Legislature and said that he expects the question to go to voters on Nov. 6, 2018 — 1,013 days from now.

“This proposal come to us at the intersection of two huge challenges, the challenge first to find the financial wherewithal to meet the needs of Massachusetts families and have the education and transportation that are a vital part of a vibrant economy,” he said. “And second the challenge to address the gross wealth and income inequality in the state. We are number one in the nation in our inequality, not a distinction we want or need.”

If the proposal is advanced by House and Senate members meeting jointly in Constitutional Conventions this session and in the 2017-2018 session, the question could go to voters in November 2018.

The next meeting of the Constitutional Convention is Wednesday, Feb. 3, but it’s not clear that the proposal will surface for a vote then. Since it’s a citizen-sponsored amendment, the plan needs support from just 50 lawmakers in two consecutive legislative sessions in order to qualify for the 2018 ballot.

Fattman said he is interested to see the political dynamic of the convention, given that House Speaker Robert DeLeo on Wednesday pledged to keep new taxes and fees out of the fiscal 2017 budget.

“He said no new taxes, no new fees. When we go in on Feb. 3 I think that’s what a lot of members have to think about when they vote. This is a tax, this is a tax increase,” he said. “This is a tax increase vote on Feb. 3. I’m encouraged by the speaker’s position and I think he will be with me.”

Voting in favor of recommending that the proposal ought to pass were Kaufman, committee co-chair Sen. Michael Rodrigues, Rep. Timothy Toomey, Sen. James Timilty, Sen. Benjamin Downing, Rep. Denise Provost, Sen. Daniel Wolf, Rep. James Dwyer, Sen. Eric Lesser, Rep. Thomas Stanley, Rep. James Arciero and Rep. Alan Silvia.

 

Creative Taxation

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The Massachusetts Taxpayer’s Best Ally PAC (MTBA) is calling on MA voters to reach out the their legislators and tell them to vote against Bill S 2052 which recently pass the Senate.

The bill, incredibly would add a “User Fee” to every can of paint sold in the Commonwealth.  This fee would be over and above the existing sales tax already levied on each can of paint sold.  The concept of a “User Fee” is just another in a long list of creative new ways the legislature is attempting to get around direct tax increases, while sticking it to the taxpayers.  The most infamous of this new methods was their linking of gas tax increases to inflation.  That tax as you probably recall was killed with Ballot Question 1 in 2014.  The same principals who managed that effort are now head manning MTBA.

In their release Press Release, MTBA asks that you please let your legislator know that we will not tolerate any tax increase, regardless of the form in which they come.  Your legislator can be reached by calling the State House switchboard at 617-722-2000.  Tell them to vote against the Paint Stewardship bill S 2052.

This is no Joke!


Massachusetts Taxpayers Best Ally PAC

Formerly Tank Automatic Gas Taxes

For the first time in two months the Massachusetts State Senate held a full formal session. They should stay on vacation.

Today the Senate passed a new tax on paint.
Unfortunately, this is not a joke.
They are creating a “user fee” on every can of paint sold in Massachusetts. Add this to the list of 101 reasons to shop in New Hampshire.
This “fee” will be in addition to the sales tax we already pay.
The tax-and-spend liberals just don’t seem to get the message we pay enough in taxes. Why are they always looking to take more money out of wallets instead of ending the abuse of our tax dollars?
Help us stop this outrageous new tax by calling your legislator at 617-722-2000!
The legislation is called the Paint Stewardship bill and the number is S.2052.

 

I can’t BELIEVE we’re doing this again!

So I wrote the following in 2013. Sadly, given that we’re having this intra-party fight again, I feel the need to repost it.

“What is the one thing that can unite the MassGOP? Hint: It starts with “R”.

We just had our monthly RTC meeting this past Wednesday, and our State Committeeman was there to give us an update from that level.

His perspective was disheartening to say the least, even taken with a large grain of salt. With two warring factions at the state party level (he being on one side in this “War To End All Wars” nonsense) fighting for control, what’s a lowly committee chair with little contact with the grandees of the Party to do? All I’ve got is an opinion. So here it is: Stop it. Just stop it.

The State Party should be doing 3 things with its limited resources, and having a pissing contest over the soul of the party isn’t one of them.

1. Marketing/branding (60%). 2. Setting up effective GOTV operations (30%). And 3. Financially supporting candidates (10%).

Lets look at #1. The krack kadre of kampaign konsultants should have absolutely nothing to do with branding the party or marketing its message. Here’s a novel idea, have advertising/marketing professionals do it. For the most part these are not political junkies. They would approach the problem as they would any other marketing challenge. What is the key message? What is the strategic goal? What tactics will best convey that message and help reach the goal? We should be looking at this through a marketing prism instead of a political one. Finding Conservative-minded people would be a plus.

I’ve talked about this before. We have the better policies. We’re terrible at connecting those policies emotionally to the voters. Remember, we’re fighting Liberalism, the politics of feeling good about yourself. People need to feel good about their vote. That’s an emotional connection to a rational decision. People need an emotional reason to connect to a brand.

Now #2. Our GOTV effort pales in comparison to our opponents. They are taking full advantage of the latest technologies, coupled with good old-fashioned shoe leather, to get their folks to the polls. We don’t. That needs to change. Ed Lyons could speak to this better than I, so I defer to him on explaining all the tech solutions available.

#3. Candidates need to raise money. Duh. The State Party would better serve candidates by setting up an infrastructure to require less investment in mailings, web & social media presence, and other basic for setting up a campaign. (Ties into the whole brand message too.) Setting up a customizable “toolkit” would allow candidates to spend their money more efficiently and on other things like events (hosting/participating in cultural/civic events in their communities) and voter outreach and contact.

Oh, about that “R” word. It’s “Reform”. Every single tactical message should hammer in the message of “Real. Meaningful. Reform.”

Reform means lower taxes, and you don’t have to talk about cutting taxes. Reform means a more efficient delivery of essential services, and you don’t have to talk about cutting programs. Reform means good fiscal stewardship, and you don’t have to talk about cutting positions. Even if the end goal is to do all three, you don’t have to explicitly say it, which means there’s nothing to argue against.

That’s the one thing that the whole party can unite behind. It’s also the one thing Independents can get behind with us. It’s the one message that will allow us to win.”