2018 ballot to include Fair Share Amendment

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A proposed amendment to the Massachusetts Constitution to impose a personal income tax surcharge of 4 percent on incomes of more than $1 million to help pay for public education and transportation is headed to the ballot in November 2018.
 
The tax plan, known as the Fair Share Amendment, was approved at a joint session of the House and Senate in 2016 and again last month in order to qualify for the ballot next year. Proponents estimate that the surcharge could generate about $1.9 billion annually.
 
The 2018 ballot will also include a “veto referendum” that would repeal a law enacted last July to prohibit discrimination based on gender identity.
 
Other proposals for law changes and amendments to the constitution are expected to be filed with the attorney general by the Aug. 2 deadline. Proposals for law changes could reach the ballot by 2018, while changes to the constitution would take an additional legislative session to qualify and could reach voters in November 2020.
 
The Retailers Association of Massachusetts has said that it is considering filing a petition to reduce the state sales tax rate by a point or 2.
 
In 2015, almost three dozen petitions for law changes and amendments were filed, including more than one version on some topics, but only four made it through the signature-gathering process to appear on the ballot in November 2016.
 
Revenue from the Fair Share Amendment would be dedicated to funding public education, including public colleges and universities, and to the repair and maintenance of roads, bridges and public transportation. The amendment would take effect on Jan. 1, 2019. The surcharge threshold would be adjusted annually to reflect inflation.
 
The MMA Board of Directors has not yet taken a position on the Fair Share Amendment. The MMA Fiscal Policy Committee has heard presentations from both proponents and opponents, with another round of discussions slated for the fall and a recommendation to the board to follow.