By Elizabeth Warren and Ayanna Pressley
Oct 25, 2022
The state would have more resources to support public schools, make public colleges affordable, and upgrade public transportation systems.
When we think about the future of Massachusetts, we dream of a state where families can thrive. The Commonwealth is filled with resources and opportunities, but for far too long, deep inequities and disparities have persisted. For years, the wealthiest 1 percent have paid a smaller share of their income in local and state taxes than everyone else, preventing the state from making the investments needed to build opportunity for everyone in all of our communities.
But this November we have the opportunity to change the status quo. Question 1 on the November ballot is the Fair Share Amendment, a chance to make sure everyone pays their fair share in taxes. And when everyone chips in equitably, the state will have more resources to support public schools, make public colleges affordable, and upgrade public transportation infrastructure. We encourage everyone to vote yes on Question 1.
Students and their families are still reeling from the coronavirus pandemic. Schools are finally open, but students, parents, and teachers need more opportunities for individualized support systems, better school buildings, and more wraparound services, especially for mental and emotional health. The Fair Share Amendment will mean more funding for public schools to address long-standing barriers to learning.
Our transportation systems, from roads and bridges to the woeful MBTA, are suffering from years of neglect. Road congestion and outdated, diesel-powered buses are literally choking our Commonwealth, and public transit remains unreliable, unaffordable, and inaccessible for too many residents. Voting yes on Question 1 will allow us to repair and replace crumbling physical infrastructure and move us toward a clean, efficient, accessible future.
Passing the Fair Share Amendment will also help create more pathways for young people to realize good-paying jobs and success in life, from vocational and technical education to affordable public college that doesn’t bury them in debt.
Question 1 is simple: It would create an additional 4 percent tax on the portion of an individual’s annual income above $1 million, and constitutionally dedicate the funds to transportation and public education.The first $1 million of a person’s earnings wouldn’t be affected by this measure. Only the million-and-first dollar is taxed, and then at just an additional four cents on every dollar over a million. Who will pay the most? A full 70 percent of the funds raised would come from those earning more than $5 million a year.
Expanding opportunities for people to learn, grow, and thrive is essential to the future of our Commonwealth. That means boosting the chances for children in small towns with small tax bases to get a first-rate education. That means reducing air pollution from cars and bus fumes that are concentrated in communities of color. That means telling every person — not just the wealthy ones — that we’ll invest in their education after high school so that they can develop skills and certifications to build a prosperous future.
Even though 99 percent of people in Massachusetts won’t pay a penny more under Question 1, a few billionaires are spending a lot of money to confuse voters. So let’s clear up a few things:
Small-business owners wouldn’t be affected by this tax unless their business generates more than $1 million in profit. Last year, less than 1 percent of homes in Massachusetts sold for enough of a gain to be affected by Question 1.
Since Question 1 would be written into the state constitution, the state would be constitutionally required to spend this new money on transportation and public education. That spending requirement would be constitutionally protected and could only be undone by the people of Massachusetts, not lawmakers.
By funding public schools, colleges, and transportation systems, the Fair Share Amendment will help build greater opportunity in every community in Massachusetts. Our current tax system is unjust and inequitable; those at the very top can afford to pay a little more to help build an economy and a Commonwealth that is safer, more sustainable, and works better for everyone.
This November, the choice belongs to voters. We have the chance to say, loud and clear, that we value our young people, we support all of our communities, and that everyone — including the multimillionaires and billionaires — should pay their fair share.
Elizabeth Warren is a US senator from Massachusetts, and US Representative Ayanna Pressley represents the Massachusetts Seventh Congressional District.