Millionaire tax back in play

Supporters says new approach will sidestep constitutional issues

THE BACKERS of the millionaire tax are preparing to mount a second campaign to get it passed, but this time they are using an approach designed to sidestep the legal issues that derailed the constitutional amendment the first time.

Raise Up Massachusetts, the coalition pushing a 4 percent surtax on incomes over $1 million, said on Friday that it intends to pursue a legislative constitutional amendment this time around.  The group said Sen. Jason Lewis of Winchester and Rep. James O’Day of Worcester plan to file the amendment, which to pass would need majority support of the Legislature at two consecutive constitutional conventions and then approval by voters in 2022.

The group’s previous campaign was a citizen’s constitutional amendment. That approach was shot down by the Supreme Judicial Court in June 2018, just months before it was scheduled to appear on the ballot, because the measure violated a constitutional provision requiring all elements of such a question to be “related” or “mutually dependent.” Many thought creating a tax generating roughly $2 billion a year and directing that the revenues go to transportation and education were not mutually dependent.

Meet the Author

Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

Meet the Author

Michael Jonas

Executive Editor, CommonWealth

About Michael Jonas

Michael Jonas has worked in journalism in Massachusetts since the early 1980s. Before joining the CommonWealth staff in early 2001, he was a contributing writer for the magazine for two years. His cover story in CommonWealth's Fall 1999 issue on Boston youth outreach workers was selected for a PASS (Prevention for a Safer Society) Award from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.

Michael got his start in journalism at the Dorchester Community News, a community newspaper serving Boston's largest neighborhood, where he covered a range of urban issues. Since the late 1980s, he has been a regular contributor to the Boston Globe. For 15 years he wrote a weekly column on local politics for the Boston Sunday Globe's City Weekly section.

Michael has also worked in broadcast journalism. In 1989, he was a co-producer for "The AIDS Quarterly," a national PBS series produced by WGBH-TV in Boston, and in the early 1990s, he worked as a producer for "Our Times," a weekly magazine program on WHDH-TV (Ch. 7) in Boston.

Michael lives in Dorchester with his wife and their two daughters.

About Michael Jonas

Michael Jonas has worked in journalism in Massachusetts since the early 1980s. Before joining the CommonWealth staff in early 2001, he was a contributing writer for the magazine for two years. His cover story in CommonWealth's Fall 1999 issue on Boston youth outreach workers was selected for a PASS (Prevention for a Safer Society) Award from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.

Michael got his start in journalism at the Dorchester Community News, a community newspaper serving Boston's largest neighborhood, where he covered a range of urban issues. Since the late 1980s, he has been a regular contributor to the Boston Globe. For 15 years he wrote a weekly column on local politics for the Boston Sunday Globe's City Weekly section.

Michael has also worked in broadcast journalism. In 1989, he was a co-producer for "The AIDS Quarterly," a national PBS series produced by WGBH-TV in Boston, and in the early 1990s, he worked as a producer for "Our Times," a weekly magazine program on WHDH-TV (Ch. 7) in Boston.

Michael lives in Dorchester with his wife and their two daughters.

Raise Up Massachusetts said the so-called relatedness provision would not apply with a legislative constitutional amendment.

Chris Anderson, the president of the Massachusetts High Technology Council, which spearheaded the legal challenge to the previous question, said his group would review its options. “They think they’ve solved the problem. It’s unclear whether they have or not,” he said.

If the constitutional amendment does make it on to the ballot, Anderson said his organization would fight it. “At the end of the day, whether it’s constitutional or not doesn’t fundamentally change the wisdom of putting tax policy in the constitution, especially when we have a number of economists in agreement that we’re about to enter a recessionary period at some point. This is exactly the kind of policy that hamstrings legislators from adjusting policy,” he said.