Fair Share Amendment Heads to 2018 Ballot

Key MEJA priority would provide funding for public schools and colleges

Fair Share Amendment explainer. (Raise Up Massachusetts)

Fair Share Amendment explainer. (Raise Up Massachusetts)

The Massachusetts Legislature, meeting in a Constitutional Convention, has approved sending the proposed Fair Share Amendment to the November 2018 state ballot.

The legislators’ vote of 134-55 on Wednesday, June 14, was the second by a Constitutional Convention on the measure, as is required for amendments to the Massachusetts Constitution.

The citizens’ initiative would create an additional 4 percent tax on annual income over $1 million. The tax would raise almost $2 billion a year for public education and transportation. To ensure that the tax would be applied only to the highest-income residents, the $1 million threshold would be adjusted each year to reflect cost-of-living increases.

Massachusetts Teachers Association President Barbara Madeloni said that the amendment is needed because “our public schools and colleges are drastically underfunded.”

“We have many communities in need of free high-quality prekindergarten,” she continued. “We need to make sure that arts, athletics and cultural activities are available to students no matter where they live — and we cannot let cost be a hurdle to students looking to pursue higher education in our public colleges and universities. It’s time to give the voters public education funding that is sufficient to meet the needs of all of our students.”
Last, Madeloni joined Harris Gruman, political director for the SEIU State Council, on NECN to discuss the passage of the Fair Share Amendment through the Constitutional Convention. You can watch that segment here.

Lew Finfer, co-chair of Raise Up Massachusetts, the grassroots coalition behind the Fair Share Amendment, thanked the Legislature “for advancing the Fair Share Amendment in support of the public’s right to vote.”

“Now our grassroots coalition will work to reach every voter in the state and propel the Fair Share Amendment to victory,” he said.

In 2015, the Raise Up Massachusetts coalition of community organizations, religious groups, and labor unions collected more than 157,000 signatures to begin the process of amending the Massachusetts Constitution, all without using paid signature-gathering companies.

In May 2016, the House and Senate, meeting jointly in their first Constitutional Convention on the matter, voted 135-57 to advance the initiative. No legislator who voted for the Fair Share Amendment lost his or her seat in the November 2016 General Election, demonstrating the high level of support among voters for the amendment.

“Massachusetts voters and their elected leaders understand that if we want an economy that works for all of us, we desperately need new investments in quality public schools for our children, affordable high-quality public higher education, and a reliable transportation system that lets people get to school, work, and around their communities,” said Deb Fastino, executive director of the community-based Coalition for Social Justice and co-chair of Raise Up Massachusetts.

Fastino continued, “It’s time to ask millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share — the same share as the rest of us — to make those investments and generate equitable economic growth across Massachusetts.”