This November, Massachusetts voters will have the chance to vote on the Fair Share Amendment on the statewide general election ballot. This critically important ballot question would allow Massachusetts to improve our transportation and public education systems by making the very rich pay their fair share.
The ballot question would create a 4 percent tax on annual income above $1 million and dedicate the funds raised to transportation and public education. Only people who earn more than $1 million annually will pay this additional income tax; 99% of us won’t pay a penny more. And we’ll all benefit from better schools, roads, bridges, and public transportation.
Here’s what AFT Massachusetts members need to know about the Fair Share for Massachusetts campaign:
What is the Fair Share Amendment?
The Fair Share Amendment on the November ballot would create an additional tax of four percent on annual personal income above $1 million. The new revenue, over $1 billion a year, is required to be spent on quality public education and affordable public colleges and universities, and for the repair and maintenance of roads, bridges and public transportation.
Why do we need it?
The rich got richer during the COVID pandemic, but working families and small businesses continue to get hit hard. The Massachusetts economy is working great for those at the top, but that prosperity isn’t reaching all of us. As we come out of the pandemic, we need to make our tax system fairer in order to grow our economy and make it work for everyone.
As we recover from COVID, we need investments in our public schools to help students get back on track, and to ensure that all students have access to a complete and well-rounded education. We need to repair our state’s backlog of hundreds of neglected and structurally dangerous bridges, roads, and public transportation infrastructure. We need to make our public colleges affordable again so students can graduate without taking on enormous debt. And greater access to vocational education is essential as we rebuild our economy for working families.
If we don’t address these problems now, they’ll only hold back our economy and hurt working families. It’s time for the very rich to pay their fair share so we can recover from the pandemic and rebuild a Massachusetts economy that’s stronger than ever.
Right now, the highest-income households in Massachusetts pay a smaller share of their income in taxes than the rest of us. During the pandemic, the gap between the rich and everyone else got even worse. As a result, too many families in Massachusetts can’t make ends meet, even though we are all working harder than ever before.
This November, people from all walks of life are coming together to create better schools and transportation. With the Fair Share Amendment, we can make the Massachusetts tax system fairer and make the big investments we’ve been putting off: new public-school buildings with great educators, safer roads and bridges, affordable public college, access to vocational education and job training programs, fast and reliable public transportation, and pre-K classrooms for every child.
Who would pay the Fair Share tax? Who wouldn’t?
The Fair Share Amendment would only raise taxes on the top 1 percent of Massachusetts households: those who earn more than a million dollars in a single year. 99 percent of us wouldn’t pay a penny more.
For the very rich who earn more than a million dollars in a single year, their first million won’t be affected. They’ll just pay an extra four percent tax on their second million, and every million after that.
For years, the highest-income households in Massachusetts have paid a smaller share of their income in taxes than any other income group. They’ve also repeatedly benefited from federal tax cuts. They can clearly afford to pay a little more – just 4 cents a dollar on the portion of their annual income above one million dollars – to make the investments we all need to deliver broadly shared prosperity.
How would Fair Share help our K-12 schools?
Public schools throughout our state are struggling to recover from the effects of the COVID pandemic. Now more than ever, students need smaller classes, social-emotional supports, extra tutoring, and additional counselors, nurses, and social workers to help them get back on track. Many of our school buildings are more than 50 years old and need substantial repairs and upgrades to windows, bathrooms, heating and cooling systems, technology/internet capability, and other critical infrastructure.
All students need a well-rounded education that includes science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), music, art, and athletics, but many schools have been forced to cut these essential programs due to budget shortfalls. Our state’s high-quality vocational high schools have long waiting lists that lock out students who want a job training education. It’s preventing young people from beginning the successful careers they need. And far too many families can’t access high-quality preschool programs that support working parents and provide students with a strong start to their education.
The Fair Share Amendment would provide badly needed long-term funding to get our preK-12 public schools back on track and give educators and students the resources they need moving forward. The success of our entire economy depends on addressing these issues and remaining a leader in public education. The Fair Share Amendment will allow us to do that.
How would Fair Share help our public colleges?
Due to declining state funding of public higher education, tuitions and fees at our public colleges and universities are among the highest in the country, and students are forced to take on enormous debt to receive a degree. We need to re-invest in quality public higher education, to make it affordable for middle- and working-class families in our state.
The average UMass Dartmouth student who takes out student loans to pay for school graduates with over $34,000 in debt. This debt is holding back our entire economy: research finds that the state sacrifices $2.5 billion in savings, equity and economic activity due to the burden of debt held by the Commonwealth’s college graduates. And now, many of our public colleges are seeing their enrollment decline because working- and middle-class families are priced out.
The Fair Share Amendment would provide the long-term funding necessary to make our community colleges, state universities, and UMass affordable again so that every young person who wants a college education is not burdened with decades of debt. Delivering high-quality public higher education to all who want it will require adequate funding for public college campuses, and the Fair Share Amendment will deliver that funding year after year.
How can I get involved?
There are many ways you can get involved in the Fair Share for Massachusetts campaign:
- Follow the campaign on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter
- Record a short video about your support for Fair Share (our online tool will help walk you through the steps!)
- Learn more about the educational investments Fair Share would make possible in a report by MassBudget
- Join a door-to-door canvass with other AFT members