A thousand ways to spend millionaire’s tax?

With two-and-a-half years to go before a potential ballot question to raise taxes on millionaires in the state, we may already have a glimpse of what could become a major point of contention in such a showdown.

Proponents say the tax — an added levy of 4 percent on income above $1 million a year — would bring badly needed money, earmarked for transportation and education, from those easily able to cough up a little more to the Commonwealth.

The new tack from opponents: Voters may see the need for more transportation and education spending, but those slippery pols on Beacon Hill won’t necessarily spend the dough on those things. They might just take the money and run — or dump it down one of the many rat holes where they’ve historically wasted any new revenue that lands in their profligate laps.

“They could appropriate the money to rehab poor kittens and puppies, they could use it to hire everybody’s second cousin who is related to a state rep, they could do a thousand things,” Chip Faulkner of Massachusetts-based Citizens for Limited Taxation, tells the Globe‘s Josh Miller.

A recent poll shows strong support for the proposed constitutional amendment, with 70 percent of voters saying they’d back such a question. But opponents say that support is based on a belief that the extra money would be dedicated to the two big areas that proponents have identified, an assumption they say may not be warranted.

The millionaire’s tax faces its first procedural step this week, when the Legislature convenes for a Constitutional Convention. The measure must get at least 50 votes in two successive sessions of the 200-member Legislature before it can head to the ballot in 2018. It’s expected to easily clear the 50-vote hurdle.

The wording of the question is tricky, because constitutional amendments may not make “a specific appropriation” of money. Backers say the millionaire’s tax doesn’t do that, but instead directs more generally that the money go to the two big spending areas. Even if that argument passes legal muster and the question goes forward, writes Miller, opponents may try to chip away at support among voters by seeding doubts about whether the new money will really find its way to schools or transportation projects.

Meanwhile, David Tuerck, director of the conservative Beacon Hill Institute think tank, tells the Herald the tax would cut into profits of small businesses and have a dampening effect on job creation.

Senate President Stan Rosenberg is strongly backing the millionaire’s tax. The other two members of Beacon Hill’s troika of powerbrokers expressed varying shades of gray on the matter when the Herald inquired over the weekend.

Gov. Charlie Baker seems highly unlikely to endorse the tax. But his office apparently chose not to slam the proposal directly, issuing a statement instead that says he “does not support tax increases on our hard working families.” Some might have fun parsing whether households like the Mays (as in Eversource CEO Tom May, 2014 earnings, $19 million) fall into that tax-onomy, and we suspect some such households might just wind up featured in the campaign of tax proponents.

House Speaker Robert DeLeo issued a statement saying he’ll vote yes on the question at this week’s Constitutional Convention because “at the very least, the voters should have the chance to decide the issue.” Left unsaid, at this point, is what DeLeo personally thinks about the tax, and whether he’ll vote for it himself.



Eitan Hersh criticizes Secretary of State William Galvin’s elections division for embracing change so slowly. (CommonWealth)


The historic St. Francis of Assisi Church in North Adams is going to be torn down after a portion of its steeple collapsed last week. (Berkshire Eagle)

Quincy officials expect a rat infestation problem plaguing the city to intensify as the warmer weather takes hold. (Patriot Ledger)


Donald Trump says there will be nothing subtle about his attacks on Hillary Clinton in the general election, with plans to confront her on her husband’s affairs, her email problems, and the deaths of Americans in Benghazi. (New York Times)

Meanwhile, a Herald editorial says there will be nothing subtle about the pounding Trump will take if he continues to refuse to release his tax returns. The paper says Trump is “delusional” if he thinks otherwise.

Hillary Clinton is looking for votes among Republican. (Boston Globe)

Rep. Marco Devers of Lawrence is facing three challengers in his Democratic primary. With no Republican running, the winner of the Democratic primary will win the election. (Eagle-Tribune)

The conservative billionaire Koch brothers are drastically retrenching in their electoral political spending and putting more into policy efforts, concerned their involvement in politics is beginning to affect the corporate brand. (National Review)


The Hanover Insurance Group of Worcester names Joseph Zubretsky, who left Aetna in 2015, to replace Frederick Eppinger as CEO. (Telegram & Gazette)

A Salem News editorial praises the Ninety Nine Restaurant & Pub for featuring Gloucester-landed fish on its spring menu. The fish has been a big hit with customers.


Barbara Madeloni, the combative president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, was re-elected to a second two-year term, as delegates to the union’s annual convention also voted to spend $9.2 million on the campaign to defeat a ballot question raising the cap on charter schools. (CommonWealth)

The struggling Brockton school system has spent $25,000 on lawn signs, bumper stickers, and pins as part of a campaign to get Gov. Charlie Baker and other elected officials to increase local education funding. (The Enterprise)

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and his most persistent critic on the City Council, Tito Jackson, are on opposite sides as some students plan a walkout tomorrow to testify at a Jackson-led hearing on school budget issues. (Boston Herald)

The Cape Cod Times is in the midst of a three-part series on the influx of foreign students, especially Chinese, attending private schools on the Cape and the push by public schools to capture some of those tuition-paying students. CommonWealth took a look at the issue of foreign students attending public schools in the Winter issue.


Geoffrey Reilinger says medical marijuana, if it was more readily available, could ease the opioid crisis. (CommonWealth)

For the second year, Steward Health Care is balking at releasing data on its basic financial status to the state’s Center for Health Information and Analysis. (Boston Globe)

A company is using what critics call a loophole in state law to push an application for a new nursing home/rehab facility in Beverly. (Salem News)

A Halifax man whose penis was removed because of cancer is the first recipient of a penis transplant in the United States in an operation performed at Massachusetts General Hospital. (New York Times)

A new study shows while the total number of abortions continued to rise worldwide, the rate per capita has dropped significantly in developed countries while remaining stagnant in developing nations. The study also shows that the overwhelming majority of abortions are obtained by married women. (U.S. News & World Report)

MIT researchers aim to create an on-demand pharmacy. (WBUR)


Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack says there’s no chance the Green Line Extension will turn into the Big Dig redux and says she’s growing more confident the project will receive the federal funding commitment and be built within the $2.3 billion cost estimate. (Keller@Large)


Carbon emissions were up at New England power plants last year over the previous year, a trend observers say may be due to the closure of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in 2014. (Boston Globe)

State budget cuts have drastically reduced environmental safeguards and routine testing and protective efforts  over the last 15 years. (New England Center for Investigative Reporting)

With its trash disposal costs rising, Gloucester officials are seeking a 25-cent hike in the trash bag fee. (Gloucester Times)


The number of tickets being written in Massachusetts for texting while driving is up sharply. (Boston Globe)


The little-known world of news editors in social media comes to light after the disputed report of Facebook suppressing conservative-leaning stories in its trending topics. (New York Times) A Globe editorial says the Facebook episode, along with several other stories involving big tech companies, including the controversy of Amazon‘s delivery blackout in sections of Roxbury, are examples of well-deserved scrutiny of firms now exerting huge influence over daily life.