Business versus business in millionaire’s tax fight?
New ad features brewery owner supporting tax hike
THE BATTLE LINES in the debate over passing the so-called millionaire’s tax have generally pitted organized labor, which supports the tax hike, against organized business groups, which oppose it. But now, proponents of the question are trying to muddy that narrative and argue that they have businesses on their side, too.
A constitutional amendment on the November ballot would raise the tax rate on income over $1 million. The Fair Share for Massachusetts Campaign, the pro-amendment committee led by the liberal organizing group Raise Up Massachusetts, released an ad Friday featuring a business owner who supports the tax increase, following up on a release Thursday of a list of 75 businesses that support the constitutional amendment.
The new ad features Karsen Eckweiler, co-owner of Democracy Brewing in Boston. She argues in the ad, which features shots of Eckweiler at the brewery, that raising $2 billion a year for schools and transportation “means more jobs and better opportunities.” “That’s good for all businesses, big and small,” she says. She says making “the richest 1 percent” pay their fair share means “small businesses like ours will see the benefits.”
A press release announcing the more than 75 business supporters of the amendment features quotes from independent small business owners touting the benefits of raising more state revenue. “We depend on good roads for our employees and customers, and Question 1 will mean $2 billion a year for schools, colleges, and transportation infrastructure, without small businesses paying a penny more,” says Netania Shapiro, owner of Caravan Kitchen in Northampton.
The anti-amendment coalition, in a press release, says it has support from “over 75 small businesses, family farms, chambers of commerce, and community groups, as well as organizations representing over 20,000 small businesses across the state.”
The No on 1 ad features a cranberry grower, lobster fisherman, retired teacher, and small business owners who argue that the tax hike “makes no sense.” “Question 1 would nearly double the income tax rate on tens of thousands of small business owners, family farmers, and homeowners,” the ad states.
The opponents are businesses backed by businesses – though not necessarily the small mom-and-pop shops they depict. The biggest donors to the ad, according to its legally required disclaimer, are Suffolk Construction Company, Rand-Whitney Containerboard, real estate developer Sandra Edgerley, New Balance chairman James Davis, and Adage Capital Management’s Phill Gross.The ad by supporters, however, features businesses backed by labor. The top donors to that ad are unions: the Massachusetts Teachers Association, National Education Association, 1199SEIU, and the American Federation of Teachers-Massachusetts, plus the liberal-leaning, Washington, DC-based advocacy group Sixteen Thirty Fund.
To what extent are businesses actually supporting the constitutional amendment? Campaign finance filings show the coalition has tons of union support and some small donations from individuals working in a range of fields (many in education). But if small businesses are supporting the amendment in any significant numbers, they have yet to put their money where their mouth is.