As lawmakers and advocates try again to impose a surtax on incomes over $1 million, they’re confident a new attempt can survive a potential legal challenge and meet constitutional requirements.
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in June 2018 derailed a proposal to amend the state Constitution to assess a higher tax rate on people with the largest annual incomes, erasing what had been eyed by Democrats on Beacon Hill as a new revenue stream to fund education and transportation projects.
The high court ruled that the ballot question, which had been on track to go before voters in November 2018, unconstitutionally mixed the two different spending priorities and a major change in tax policy.
“Regrettably, when we got to the finish line, we ran into a bump here and there and it was determined that our previous Fair Share Amendment didn’t meet constitutional muster, but that is not going to happen this time,” state Representative James O’Day (D-West Boylston) said at a State House briefing Tuesday, February 26 on a new version of the tax proposal. “We’re happy to have folks with us today that are going to put your mind at ease on that.”
O’Day and state Senator Jason Lewis (D-Winchester) refiled the surtax (Senate Bill 16, House Bill 86) — known as the Millionaires’ Tax or the Fair Share Amendment — this year as a legislative amendment instead of the citizen’s amendment version that was scuttled last year.
Unlike citizen’s amendments, legislative amendments are not required to contain only related or mutually dependent subjects, attorney Patrick Moore said.