By Boston Herald Editorial Staff
“Whether to amend the Constitution so we have a graduated income tax is an extraordinary public policy question,” said Kevin Martin, attorney for the plaintiffs. “It’s an independent public policy issue which deserves independent consideration by the voters of the commonwealth.”
Supporters of the proposed “Millionaire’s Tax” have been clear on their goals. They want the wealthy to contribute even more of their earnings to the state treasury. They want more money for education. They want more money for transportation.
That they lumped all of these hopes and dreams into a single constitutional amendment, set to go before voters in November, may be what ultimately sinks this proposal.
In oral arguments before the state’s highest court yesterday, a lawyer for five business groups suing to disqualify the question from the ballot made a compelling case that, as conceived and as written, the proposed amendment fails the constitutional test.
By the Associated Press
“It is not about whether creating a new graduated income tax is good public policy or bad public policy,” said Christopher Anderson, president of the Massachusetts High Technology Council.
Opponents of a so-called “millionaire tax” are banking on the state’s highest court to stop the issue from going before Massachusetts voters in November.
The Supreme Judicial Court is scheduled on Tuesday to hear arguments on the legal challenge which, if successful, would likely derail supporters’ hopes of raising nearly $2 billion for improvements in public education and transportation.
The constitutional amendment would impose a surtax of 4 percent on any portion of an individual’s annual income that exceeds $1 million.
The justices are not being asked to decide on the merits of the proposal, but instead whether it runs afoul of restrictions the state constitution places on the scope of ballot initiatives. Continue reading
By William Weld
Not so long ago, this commonwealth was universally known as “Taxachusetts.” It was not a term of affection.
The state’s unemployment rate was about 10 percent — the highest of all the 11 industrial states. The secretary of Administration and Finance publicly stated that Massachusetts was “bankrupt.”
In many cities and towns, every third storefront was boarded up. On streets near the state borders, there was a “for sale” sign on virtually every other house.
The year was 1990, the year that Paul Cellucci and I were narrowly elected as governor and lieutenant governor.
The first thing we did was to repeal a recently enacted sales tax on services. During my two terms, we cut taxes 20 more times, and never raised them. Continue reading
By Bob McGovern
Business groups fighting to block the so-called millionaire tax from next year’s statewide ballot say the proposed constitutional amendment is “truly radical” and should not go to the voters, according to a brief filed with the state’s highest court.
“Plaintiffs bring this lawsuit to exclude from the 2018 ballot an initiative petition that threatens to undermine our representative system of government and our separation of powers, and the long-standing consensus that the Legislature must maintain ultimate control over public finances,” wrote Kevin Martin, an attorney representing the businesses. Continue reading
By Editorial Staff
It’s easy to complain that the proposed “millionaire’s tax” set to go before Massachusetts voters next year is just a cynical effort to squeeze the wealthy to fund more government jobs. Easy, because it happens to be true.
But it’s even more worrisome to consider, as the plaintiffs in a pending lawsuit charge, that the initiative “threatens to undermine our representative system of government and our separation of powers, and the long-standing consensus that the Legislature must maintain ultimate control over public finances.”
And if that sounds like a big deal, that’s because it is. Continue reading
By Herald Staff
An alliance of business groups is poking sharp holes in the effort to establish a millionaire’s tax in Massachusetts, arguing in a new lawsuit not just that the proposed constitutional amendment is bad policy (it is) but that it is constitutionally flawed and should not have been certified to appear on the 2018 ballot.
Wealthy people aren’t the only ones who should be grateful for this effort; Massachusetts voters who five times have rejected a graduated income tax now have someone protecting their interests. Same for those who understand that it’s a terrible idea to give high-income earners an incentive to flee for friendlier states. Continue reading
By Marie Szaniszlo
““When you amend the constitution, you prevent the Legislature from touching it. The process of setting taxing and spending policy via amendments will open the floodgates to a series of constitutional amendments,” Anderson said.”
A coalition of business groups yesterday filed suit in the state’s highest court to try to block the proposed “millionaire tax” constitutional amendment from making it on the 2018 ballot.
In a 77-page lawsuit filed in the Supreme Judicial Court, the heads of the Massachusetts High Technology Council, the National Federation of Independent Businesses, the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership, Associated Industries of Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation challenge state Attorney General Maura Healey’s 2015 certification of the proposed amendment as constitutional.
That certification cleared the way for two votes by the state Legislature — one in 2016, the other in June — to allow voters to decide next year whether Bay Staters should be subject to a 4 percent surtax on any portion of their income that exceeds $1 million. Continue reading
By Herald Staff
The Baker administration has thrown the Legislature — and the taxpayers — a lifeline when it comes to dealing with rising Medicaid costs — which account for nearly 40 percent of the state budget. Lawmakers should grab it.
To do so — especially with the uncertainty in Washington, D.C., on health care these days — the administration has gone to the Way-Back Machine, returning to the concepts and efficiencies the state was able to implement under Romneycare back in 2006. Yes, before Obama- care chewed up a perfectly good system that had managed to insure 97.8 percent of the state’s population.
So now Gov. Charlie Baker, who knows a little something about the business of health insurance himself, is proposing a way out of a more than $300 million budget hole created by mounting costs of the $16.6 billion MassHealth program. Continue reading
By Matt Stout
Gov. Charlie Baker is scrapping his controversial plan for a new $2,000 per-employee fee on businesses that don’t offer health insurance in favor of a new proposal his aides say would instead hike existing fees and could generate $200 million.
The new plan is part of a package of legislative changes Baker filed today with the legislature’s budget committees that could, in total, generate $314 million in savings or new revenue next fiscal year, according to his office.
It comes months after he first floated in his budget proposal a plan to hit employers who don’t offer health coverage with a $2,000 per-employee assessment, a move that was intended to help rein in growing MassHealth costs and drum up $300 million in revenue. Continue reading
By Jordan Graham
A top tech industry group unveiled a new tool to compare Massachusetts to other states yesterday as Gov. Charlie Baker said the state needs to solidify its position as a high tech leader by working harder to be more competitive and lowering the cost to do business.
“The goal here is to strengthen the areas we have a national lead in, and rectify or improve the areas we can now see a disadvantage,” said Chris Anderson, president of the Massachusetts High Technology Council. “This is actually going to be very helpful for not only keeping track of what our peer states are doing, but informing our decisions.” Continue reading