The campaign to invest in transportation and public education by creating an additional tax on annual incomes above $1 million is in full force across the Commonwealth this weekend as community members of all types – including workers, parents, educators and community and faith leaders – launch a local signature drive outside of Neighbor-to-Neighbor offices in Lynn today. The campaign launch is part of a Week of Action organized by Raise Up Massachusetts, a coalition of community organizations, religious groups and labor unions that led last year’s campaigns for a higher minimum wage and earned sick time.
“The best way to help working families and build a stronger economy for us all is to make sure that we have quality public schools for our children, affordable higher education, and a transportation system that lets people get to work and customers get to businesses,” said Estrella Diaz of Neighbor-to-Neighbor. “Without investment in these common goals, working families fall behind and our communities suffer. New revenue is necessary to improve our public schools, rebuild crumbling roads and bridges, make college affordable, and invest in fast and reliable public transportation.”
At the signature drive launch, local supporters got together to discuss the issues at stake in the campaign and then took to the streets to talk to voters and collect signatures to place a constitutional amendment on the 2018 ballot.
The amendment would create an additional tax of four percentage points on annual income above $1 million. The new revenue generated by the tax could only be spent on quality public education, affordable public colleges and universities, and the repair and maintenance of roads, bridges, and public transportation. To ensure that the tax continues to apply only to the highest-income residents, the $1 million threshold would be adjusted each year to reflect cost-of-living increases.
Raise Up Massachusetts, a coalition of community organizations, religious groups, and labor unions committed to building an economy that works for all of us, collected over 350,000 signatures in 2013 and 2014 on behalf of two ballot initiatives: raising the minimum wage and guaranteeing earned sick time for all Massachusetts workers. In June 2014, the Legislature passed and the governor signed legislation giving Massachusetts the highest statewide minimum wage in the country. Raise Up Massachusetts then led the campaign to ensure access to earned sick time for all workers in the Commonwealth by passing Question 4 in November 2014.
This fall, Raise Up Massachusetts plans to collect certified signatures from at least 64,750 registered voters (three percent of total votes cast for all candidates for governor in 2014). If enough certified signatures are collected, then the petition must go to a Joint Session of the Legislature and be approved by 25 percent of legislators (50 votes) in 2016. The petition will then need a second approval by 25 percent of legislators in a Joint Session in 2017 or 2018 to appear on the ballot on November 6, 2018.