In a close race, Massachusetts voters approved the so-called millionaires tax, amending the state Constitution for the first time in 22 years to impose a surtax on some of the state’s highest earners to raise money for public education and transportation.
The initiative, Question 1 on Tuesday’s ballot, adds a 4% surtax on top of the state’s 5% income tax for the portion of income over $1 million in a single year. The Associated Press called the race around 1:30 p.m. Wednesday with 52% of voters in favor of the initiative and 48% against.
The surtax is estimated to raise $1.3 billion a year intended for transportation and public education.
“On Tuesday, Massachusetts voters seized a once-in-a-generation opportunity that was years in the making,” said Fair Share for Massachusetts Campaign Manager Jeron Mariani. “We’ve done what some thought was impossible: passed the Fair Share Amendment to create a permanently fairer tax system and deliver billions of dollars in new revenue for our public schools, colleges, roads, bridges, and transit systems.”
The Yes on 1 campaign said in a statement Wednesday that volunteers called over 2.1 million voters and knocked on more than 1 million of their doors.
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Dan Cence, a veteran of the political sphere who served as spokesman for the Coalition to Stop the Tax Hike Amendment, said Wednesday that surtax opponents were “disappointed” in the outcome but proud that it was such a close race despite being outspent two-to-one.
“There is no guarantee that this ill-conceived amendment will increase spending for either education nor transportation. It will, however, severely impact retirees, homeowners, and hardworking residents across the state. This amendment will hurt small businesses as they struggle with inflation, supply chain issues, and work to rebuild from the negative impacts of the pandemic,” he said.
Campaigns for and against the surtax spent millions getting out the word. The opposition to Question 1 spent a total of $13,518,519.82 and supportive campaigns spent twice as much, $27,929,767.66, the Office of Campaign and Political Finance reported on Election Day.
Voters also approved Massachusetts Ballot Question 2, restricting how dental insurance companies can spend money collected in premiums; and Question 4, providing a way for immigrants without legal status to obtain Massachusetts driver’s licenses. Ballot Question 3, which would have changed policies for liquor license approvals, was rejected, with 55% voting no and 45% voting yes, statewide.
In New Bedford, a separate question asked voters to approve the city’s membership as an MBTA community. That measure, necessary for the start of commuter rail service, was overwhelmingly approved in New Bedford and Fall River.
Editor’s note: Material from The New Bedford Light was added to this State House News Service story.
The New Bedford Light provides in-depth analyses of the Nov. 8 elections and what lies ahead after voters made their voices heard.