As a MA resident and registered voter, I’ve been doing some preparation on the questions on the upcoming November ballot. Question 1 proposes the following:
This proposed constitutional amendment would establish an additional 4% state income tax on that portion of annual taxable income in excess of $1 million. This income level would be adjusted annually, by the same method used for federal income-tax brackets, to reflect increases in the cost of living. Revenues from this tax would be used, subject to appropriation by the state Legislature, for public education, public colleges and universities; and for the repair and maintenance of roads, bridges, and public transportation. The proposed amendment would apply to tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2023.
At first glance I thought this amendment would be a great idea as we have all talked here about how many wealthy folks are basically OK with higher taxes. However, this bill, the way it is written seems to be somewhat slightly underhanded. See the bold portion in the above text. It says that the extra funds from this tax would be used “subject to the appropriation by the state legislature” - there is the kicker!! IOW, the state can collect the tax, but then slide that money over to any budget category that it wants - or more likely, would reduce funding for education and transportation and appropriate just these funds for those purposes.
This all just seems slimy to me and another reason why I really don’t trust politicians as far as I can throw them. On the one hand, this bill seems like a great idea, but that one phrase written into this constitutional amendment allows the legislature to do anything that they want with this extra tax income.
Although this is a MA ballot question, I think this has Macro impact in a couple of ways:
- Many agree that wealthy folks (> $1MM / year in income) should pay more in taxes (Warren Buffett even agrees)
- Some (many) laws are written to sound good on the surface, but when you rip apart the details they may not have the intended consequences that voters thought they would get
- Our legislators MAY be in the pockets of wealthy individuals who influenced the writing of this constitutional amendment the way that they did, so that it appears that the legislature is being responsive to the “little people” when in actuality, they wrote the law in such a way that it causes angst among the voters and the bill gets rejected - thereby relieving the wealthy from this additional tax. (Brilliant!)
- Many voters don’t even do the “due diligence” to study the facts and potential outcomes from ballot questions, so they may even choose the “In My Pants” option while in the voting booth (there you go @HohumYNWA !)
We are starting to get flooded with mail and phone calls regarding this upcoming ballot question and I’m not sure which way I’ll vote. I’m basically in agreement that most folks making > $1MM / year in income would be OK with this added tax - but OTOH, I really don’t trust our law makers to use the funds towards what they are supposed to be used for.
Good Luck to us all this upcoming November!!
– I’m not a lawyer, nor a lawmaker