Hey, there! Log in / Register

Court rules you won't get to vote on taxing rich people more, at least not this year

The Supreme Judicial Court today barred a ballot question that would have asked voters to increase taxes on people making more than $1 million a year.

In a ruling today, a divided court said the proposed question was flawed under the state constitution because it not only called for a new graduated tax on the rich, but for money raised from the increased taxes to be spent on education and transportation - the issues of a graduated tax and spending on education and transportation don't really have anything directly to do with each other, and individual ballot questions are not supposed to address unrelated issues.

The court left the door open for a future ballot question only on raising taxes on the well off, noting voters have in the past voted on whether to change the current flat income-tax system to one with gradations based on income.

Topics: 
AttachmentSize
PDF icon Complete SJC decision236.64 KB

Ad:
Like the job UHub is doing? Consider a contribution. Thanks!

Comments

I'll ask the question. Was there any legal consultation before this ballot question was written and could have pointed out such an obvious technical flaw? Did none of the backers of this question think it wouldn't end up in court?

up
Voting closed 4

Well, the people who know this stuff make over a million dollars a year, and we just couldn't afford them.

up
Voting closed 7

The Attorney General and 2 Justices of the SJC think the question was ok, so I'll give the ballot question drafters a pass.

up
Voting closed 9

I think this was always a known risk, but the language was added as a sweetener as the state has voted down a graduated tax system before. But most people don’t mind new taxes geared at education and transportation.

up
Voting closed 3

change the current flat income-tax system to one with gradations based on income

this is not a bad idea

up
Voting closed 4

I've been living here for fifteen years, and it never even occurred to me that we might NOT have a graduated income tax. Just looked it up, and yup, flat 5.1%. Seriously, flat taxes are the Steve Forbes-iest, most regressive way possible of structuring income taxes--why isn't THIS on the ballot in November?

up
Voting closed 5

No, the most regressive way of structuring taxes is not this "proportional tax" but an actual "flat tax" where everyone pays a flat fee.

We already have such taxes all over the place for everyday essentials, like drivers licenses, car registration, meter fees, E911 fees, bottle deposits, turnpike tolls, and fees for tons of other crap most people need.

up
Voting closed 6

We already have such taxes all over the place for everyday essentials, like drivers licenses, car registration, meter fees, E911 fees, bottle deposits, turnpike tolls, and fees for tons of other crap most people need.

These are called FEES for what you USE. Most don't even come close to paying for the cost of the services that they cover.

You just want everyone else to pay for your driving. Know what? We already do.

A driver's license is not essential. Blind people do just fine without them. So do people who don't drive.

up
Voting closed 3

Until you want to buy alcohol, or board a flight, or get a passport, and the bureaucrat doesn't accept your non-driver ID even though it's supposed to be equivalent to a license.

up
Voting closed 4

....we're a liberal bastion of magical progressive unicorns. Don't disrupt the narrative.

up
Voting closed 4

Any indication it would pass?

up
Voting closed 3

From Boston Mag.:

Of those surveyed, 77 percent said they were in favor of the so-called “millionaire’s tax,” and 57 percent said they “strongly” supported the idea.

up
Voting closed 3

Both the Boston Magazine and WBUR articles on this "survey", conveniently, fail to mention how many individuals they interviewed...

up
Voting closed 7

There's two such links right there in the second sentence (topline, crosstabs)

Salient excerpt:

About the Poll
These results are based on a survey of 501 Massachusetts registered voters. Live telephone interviews were conducted May 22 - 26, 2018 via both landline and cell phone using conventional registration based sampling procedures. The margin of sampling error is 4.4 percentage points with a 95 percent level of confidence. The poll was sponsored by WBUR, a National Public Radio station in the Boston area.

up
Voting closed 4

501 registered voters is HARDLY a cross-section of the Massachusetts electorate.

If they added a couple of zeroes to that, then it might have more credibility.

up
Voting closed 0

V

up
Voting closed 6

These things are well-established. The margin of sampling error and level of confidence are partly a result of the sample size.

up
Voting closed 6

It isn't just sample size, but the fact that the sample relies on people who actually answer the phone and talk to pollsters.

I don't think it needs an extra couple of zeros, but 500 people is a bit too small for comfort. 5000 and I'd buy that it is a representative sample.

up
Voting closed 8

In my undergrad days, I did statistics instead of real science. 500 is a decent size for a sample. 5,000 would slightly alter the margin of error, but not by much. Telephone polls are seen as valid as cord cutters are bipartisan, but they do ask for demographic identifiers to ensure the sample is representative of the overall (voting, in this case) population.

up
Voting closed 6

Are we talking about actual statistical variation or bias?

It is a decent sample for variation. It is a bit lean given known biases in polling.

up
Voting closed 3

When 77% are supporting something, the margin of error doesn't quite matter.

My main concern would be how the question was asked. Ask people if the support protecting the flag, a majority will agree. Ask the same people if they support banning flag burning as a form of protest, the numbers would change greatly.

up
Voting closed 3

As this sample size is typical for a statewide opinion poll. Correct me in I'm wrong, but I think for a population of as many as 10,000,000, 500 respondents is considered sufficient for a confidence interval of plus or minus 5%. Also, why would people who don't answer the phone or refuse to talk to pollsters be more likely than others to oppose a millionaire's tax?

up
Voting closed 4

That is a big enough sample if there is very little bias in the sampling methods. This is why Rasmussen polls are typically extremely skewed (older people with landlines in rural areas = bias).

Political polling methods usually come with a great deal of sample bias, so they shouldn't be relying on statistical noise estimates to underscore their validity.

There is a big difference between statistical noise (that +/- 5%) and sampling bias, which is harder to estimate. You might consider heading over to Wikipedia (of all places!) for some solid explanations of that, as well as 538 (which gets around the problem by aggregating polls to get larger metasample sizes).

up
Voting closed 4

....we should be able to vote on whether to cut sales tax. And then we can go back to complaining about a transit system that's falling apart.

up
Voting closed 6

1. cut sales tax
2. tax the rich to fund transit

up
Voting closed 8

Until it runs out, that is.

Then you're going to have to dig out your copy of Atlas Shrugged to see what the villain is supposed to do next.

up
Voting closed 4

That's why it makes more sense to tax rich people. That well is deeper.

As for "my copy of Atlas Shrugged," I may be an idiot, but I'm not that kind of idiot.

up
Voting closed 5

much is expected.

up
Voting closed 3

I probably has 5-10x your family income and over $2 million to my name (and no debt).

I agree with that sentiment - get rid of the sales tax and make me pay a higher tax rate than my landscaper does.

I also want my money back for the assistance you got when you came here, you ungrateful fool.

up
Voting closed 4

A tool in a black robe is still just a tool. It's a budget bill, about revenue and expenditures. The topic is money. But the rich got what they wanted, as usual- democracy, logic, and fairness be damned.

up
Voting closed 6

I might have voted yes on this one, but the logic of the majority opinion is there. The irony is that if they just pushed for the tax increase and just sold it to the votes as going towards specific goals, it would have made it on the ballot.

Any chance anyone here saw Howie Carr's column in the Herald today. He talked about this initiative, noting how it would screw the "working man." That's right. Carr's definition of a working man is one who makes more than a million dollars.

up
Voting closed 5

Howie Car is a classic enabler of greed.

up
Voting closed 7

How can the working man ever hope to get trickled down on, if the millionaires have to give up another 4% of their income?

up
Voting closed 4

I was quite uncomfortable writing tax rates into the state constitution, even though I support them and even though it will take some kind of constitutional amendment to allow for proper legislation.

I still probably would have voted yes, but now I don't have to worry about it. I'm voting against the sales tax cut for the same reason, even though I'd support lowering it to 5% if it were part of a plan to increase revenue while making the state tax code more progressive.

up
Voting closed 2