House sponsor favors early vote on income surtax

Boston Statehouse
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BOSTON (SHNS) – Rep. Jim O’Day, the House sponsor last session of a constitutional amendment to increase income taxes on the wealthy, said he’d like to see lawmakers take a vote this spring to put the measure on the 2022 ballot, rather than let it languish.

O’Day, a West Boylston Democrat, filed the proposed amendment last session that would add a 4 percent surtax on all household income earned in Massachusetts above $1 million. The Legislature overwhelmingly voted to advance the measure, 147-48, in June 2019, but must vote in consecutive sessions to put the proposal on the ballot.

“I’d love to see it get done May, June but timelines are not what they’ve always been,” O’Day told the News Service this week. O’Day said his support for the surtax has not wavered, despite the pandemic increasing the popularity of working from home, making it possible for more people to no longer live in Massachusetts to work here.

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu has challenged ability of Massachusetts to tax income earned by people living in his state and working from home for Bay State companies in the Supreme Court. New research from the Pioneer Institute has also shown that Massachusetts is losing wealth to lower-tax states like Florida and New Hampshire.

“I strongly believe there is still a need regardless of how we’re working presently. No matter how it all shakes out, we can’t lose focus on what the overall intent of this bill is. To make sure we can continue to pay to educate our kids,” O’Day said.

O’Day said he’s had an initial conversation with new Speaker Ron Mariano about the amendment, and intends to refile the proposal soon after it gets reviewed by House counsel. Despite 19 new faces in the House and Senate this session, O’Day said he has no reason to think support has eroded.

“I’ve not heard anything overwhelming at all from any of my new colleagues other than asking if we were doing the amendment again,” he said. “If anything, the newer members have been interested in being able to sign on to that.”

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