By Jon Chesto and Joshua Miller
JUNE 18, 2018
The Supreme Judicial Court on Monday rejected a ballot question that would have raised the state income tax on Massachusetts’ highest earners and put that money into transportation and education, delivering a crushing defeat for progressive activists and organized labor and removing a volatile issue from this fall’s election.
In a 5-2 decision, the court sided with business groups that argued the proposal was unconstitutional. The measure would have imposed a higher income tax rate for personal earnings above $1 million, a levy that would have brought in an estimated $2 billion in new revenue next year. Without that new money, several top elected officials were already hinting at the need for the Legislature to increase taxes or fees.
The majority of judges agreed with the business groups’ primary legal argument, saying Attorney General Maura T. Healey was wrong to certify the initiative because it had multiple subjects that were not related. The state constitution requires such ballot measures to have subjects that are related or “mutually dependent.” Continue reading
By Jeff Jacoby
Sometime this spring, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court will decide whether the so-called Fair Share Amendment can appear on the state ballot in November. The proposal would amend the Commonwealth’s constitution, which for more than 100 years has decreed that income may be taxed only at a uniform rate. If approved, the initiative would subject anyone with more than $1 million in income to a surtax 4 percentage points higher than the state’s regular income tax rate of 5.1 percent. The tax on million-dollar-plus incomes would thus rise to 9.1 percent — a prodigious 80 percent increase in the marginal tax rate.
Left-wing advocates have long resented the flat-rate income tax. They’ve repeatedly tried to get voters to approve an amendment to the Massachusetts Constitution doing away with it. Five times they have sponsored ballot initiatives to open the door to graduated tax rates. Five times voters have said no.
The latest effort, spearheaded by a coalition of labor unions and progressive activists called Raise Up Massachusetts, comes with two twists. Continue reading
By John Chesto
“If I were voting on something, I would want to make sure the courts have already reviewed that what I’m voting on is actually constitutional,” said Anderson, one of the plaintiffs.
First, the business groups say, the question improperly links unrelated subjects: a graduated income tax and spending on transportation and education.
Second, they maintain that by dictating how extra tax revenue must be allocated, the initiative limits the Legislature’s ability to decide on spending, violating a state constitutional prohibition on making “specific appropriations” by initiative petition.
Finally, the groups argue that initiative petitions should not be used to take taxation authority away from the Legislature.
By Jon Chesto
A proposal that would impose more taxes on the rich to pay for education and transportation is expected to be an easy sell to voters.
That’s why the state’s most powerful business groups want to stop the initiative before it gets that far. They’re working on a legal challenge to scuttle the so-called millionaires tax.
The Massachusetts High Technology Council just sent out a letter to its roughly 150 members, seeking contributions of $10,000 to $25,000. The surcharge, council president Christopher Anderson wrote, could cause irreparable harm to the state’s innovation economy.
Other influential business groups — such as the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, Associated Industries of Massachusetts, and the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership — also oppose the labor-backed surcharge. Among their strategies: filing a lawsuit later this year that challenges its constitutionality. Continue reading
By Curt Woodward
““I’d hope that the further review of the system will lead to an increase in the number of such visas, as the demand is exponentially higher than the government-imposed limit,” said Christopher R. Anderson, president of the Massachusetts High Technology Council.”
Returning to his campaign pledge to protect American workers, President Trump signed an executive order on Tuesday that could reduce the supply of entry-level foreign workers that many companies say they need to fill technical jobs.
Employers and immigration experts reacted warily to Trump’s order, praising some efforts at overhauling the technology industry’s favorite guest-worker program while worrying that the administration’s reforms could harm employers that use it fairly.
Trump’s action directs four federal agencies to propose reforms to the H-1B visa program, which lets employers hire skilled overseas workers to fill jobs in the United States. It also underscores previously announced plans by federal officials to crack down on abuse and fraud in the system. Continue reading