The event was held at Berkshire Community College by Raise Up Massachusetts, a coalition of community organizations, unions and faith groups that has been fighting for the Fair Share Amendment since 2015. The group says the new surtax would not affect than 0.6% of Massachusetts. households while bringing in around $2 billion a year.
“If you’re a small business owner and the small business makes over $1 million, that doesn’t apply to that. It’s that if the individual in a year earns more than $1 million, the amount above $1 million receives this 4% surcharge,” said 3rd Tricia Farley-Bouvier, State Representative for the Berkshire District. She says the measure would benefit public transit in western Massachusetts.
“West-east rail is critically important to the growth of the Berkshires, the [regional transit authorities] are critically important, the economic development of this area, the Valley Flyer, the Berkshire Flyer – All those things that we need to be connected by rail, that money will go there,” said Farley-Bouvier .
She was joined by fellow Democrat and state senator Adam Hinds, who is also a candidate for lieutenant governor.
“You’ve probably heard some of the numbers about growing inequality in Massachusetts over the past few decades,” Hinds said. “It’s kind of this dynamic, from WWII to the 70s, you kind of saw everybody going up their trajectory together. And then in the 70s it changes, and the 1% the richest have an annual income 10 times higher than the bottom 99% And that’s a problem It’s a huge problem for many reasons The first is that we know the impact of inequality income, and especially children growing up in a low-income household, we know this means their lifetime incomes will be lower than others, their education level is impacted, their health outcomes are impacted. All because we have let income inequality spiral out of control.
“It should be a right of every resident of this Commonwealth to be able to go to a public college and university and graduate debt-free,” said Max Page, vice president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association and professor of architecture. at UMass Amherst. “Four miles away, Pittsfield High School, you go for free, like we all think we should. Between June of graduation and three months later, come to Berkshire Community College and have to pay thousands of living dollars, tuition and fees – This is just plain wrong,” Page said.
“The inadequate budgets of our public colleges have forced them to compete for funds. Could you ever imagine Harvard and Yale, or Williams College and Amherst College, having to fight over their operating budgets? Of course you can’t,” said Liz Recko-Morrison, former BCC assessment and testing coordinator and adjunct psychology teacher. “Our community colleges work hard to meet the needs of first-generation students, recent immigrants, the workforce, and those who might I have seen the division that occurs when all sectors of education higher education, and indeed education as a whole, must struggle to receive their share of underfunding. Our communities, our faculty and our professional staff, but above all, our students are suffering.
In an interview with WAMC in March, Springfield Regional Chamber Speaker Nancy Creed said the amendment would negatively impact small business owners.
“Based on how they’ve set up their organizations, so sole proprietors, S corps, those kind of small businesses are really the ones that are going to be hit by this tax and it’s only because of how they’ve organized their business,” Credo said. “They’re definitely not millionaires. So we really think it’s more of a tax on the middle class than a tax on the rich.
Pittsfield City Council approved the Fair Share Amendment in March. Voters will go to the polls to decide the measure on November 8and.