MMA Board discusses 2 revenue questions headed for ballot

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At its Nov. 14 meeting, the MMA Board of Directors discussed recommendations from the MMA Fiscal Policy Committee on two of the questions expected to be on the November 2018 election ballot.
 
The board voted to oppose a question that would reduce the state’s sales tax rate from 6.25 percent to 5 percent, and decided to continue discussion on a ballot question that would increase the tax rate on incomes of more than $1 million.
 
The Fiscal Policy Committee unanimously recommended that the MMA Board oppose the sales tax ballot question, which would reduce state tax collections by an estimated $1.25 billion. The policy committee vote followed presentations by Jon Hurst, president of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts, which drafted and filed the ballot question, and Chris Dempsey, director of Transportation for Massachusetts, which opposes the plan. The committee recommendation was based on concerns about a substantial loss of revenue that is needed to help pay for state and local capital programs and balance the state’s operating budget.
 
The Fiscal Policy Committee had also recommended that the MMA Board support the proposal to amend the Massachusetts Constitution to impose a surtax on incomes of more than $1 million to be used for public education and transportation purposes. The committee recommended that support for the question be linked to using the new revenue to pay for updating the Chapter 70 school finance program and other school aid programs and to support an increase for the Chapter 90 local road and bridge program.
 
The Fiscal Policy Committee took its vote following presentations by Eileen McAnneny, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, in opposition to the proposal, and by Noah Berger, president of the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, in support. The committee supported the ballot question based on the need for new revenue to update and fully fund important school aid programs and to provide more Chapter 90 funds to help local officials keep municipal roads in a state of good repair.
 
The MMA Board decided to continue its consideration of the so-called millionaires tax question at a future board meeting to ensure time for full discussion. The question is expected to be back before the board early next year.
 
Proponents of the nearly two-dozen proposed ballot questions had until Nov. 22 to file enough signatures (64,750) with local elections officials to move forward with their questions. For any questions not approved by the Legislature early next year, proponents will have until June 19 to file an additional 10,792 signatures with Secretary of State William Galvin’s office in order to qualify for the November 2018 state ballot.
 
The income tax question, a proposed amendment to the Massachusetts Constitution, has already qualified for the ballot.