FRAMINGHAM – In November, in addition to a number of statewide and local races, there will be another critically important item on the ballot. The Fair Share Amendment is a ballot initiative that would amend the Massachusetts Constitution in order to establish an additional tax of 4 percentage points on the amount of one’s personal income that exceeds $1 million. Many of the wealthiest have benefited from numerous tax cuts, hidden assets, and lower effective rates. While the inequities were stark before COVID, during just the first few months of the pandemic, Massachusetts billionaires saw their income increase by almost $20 billion while others struggled, particularly in our most economically disadvantaged communities.
If passed, the Fair Share Amendment would generate roughly $2 billion more annually and this would be earmarked for increased funding for education and transportation, two issues of critical importance to Framingham.
For years, Framingham’s students were shortchanged by the state’s Chapter 70 funding formula, but passage of the Student Opportunity Act brought much needed reform to this and helped deliver more equitable funding to our community.
However, money for the Student Opportunity Act has to come from somewhere and having a reliable revenue stream made possible by the Fair Share Amendment would go a long way towards helping the neediest communities.
The Student Opportunity Act alone can’t erase all the inequities, as towns like Weston and Wellesley continue to have an unfair advantage over cities like Framingham because they boast of higher property values.
In addition, college is out of reach for so many, even at our state schools. We need the funding to re-invest in higher education so that students aren’t buried in debt. Massachusetts may have the best schools in the country, but that doesn’t come cheap, and to stay at the top, we are going to need more funding for our neediest students in the most vulnerable communities.
The federal infrastructure bill that passed last year should help with some of our transportation costs, but there remains an $8 billion gap in our transportation budget and recent headlines will remind you of the complete mess that is the MBTA. We strive for a greener transportation system too, and that will require funding. In Framingham, many count on our commuter rail, The Ride, and more. When transportation needs are underfunded, it mostly impacts communities of color and those with disabilities due to inadequate access, and unlike some, they don’t get to work remotely or to sit at home counting stock market earnings. We also have many roads and bridges that need repair or periodic maintenance and local transportation budgets alone will not be able to fund longer term investments without more help from the state.
The Fair Share Amendment will generate billions in additional revenue to fund our educational priorities and transportation infrastructure. Massachusetts can only truly move forward if we commit to bringing everyone with us and leave no one behind. That means finally asking the most well-off among us to pay just a little bit more to invest in areas from which we all can benefit.
If you live in Framingham, only about 1 out of every 1000 residents will pay just a bit more, but all 75,000 or so will reap the benefits of the Fair Share Amendment.
Please join me in supporting the Fair Share Amendment.
Massachusetts Teachers Association Senate District Coordinator, 2nd Middlesex and Norfolk