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Millionaires tax supporters: Court ruling “stinks”

Raise Up Massachusetts sponsored a rally in support of a $15 minimum wage at the State House on May 8. The group was a key sponsor behind the “millionaires tax” ballot question.Lane Turner/Globe Staff

Supporters of the “millionaires tax” were despondent about the Supreme Judicial Court ruling that doomed the proposed ballot question on Monday.

“It stinks,” said Gail Hirsch, a public health worker, pausing for a short interview on City Hall Plaza. “It sounded like a good idea.”

The ballot question proposed an amendment to the state constitution that would have taxed personal income over $1 million at an additional 4 percent and directed the proceeds — an estimated $1.6 to $2.2 billion in 2019 — to education and transportation. The high court said it was unconstitutional because it included multiple unrelated subjects.

The court’s decision Monday was an enormous disappointment for Raise Up Massachusetts, the coalition of unions, religious organizations, and other progressive community groups that put forward the proposal, and for many voters as well. A Boston Globe poll conducted by the Suffolk University Political Research Center earlier this month found that two thirds of those likely to vote this fall supported the measure.

Supporters of the proposal interviewed as they passed by City Hall on Monday expressed dismay about the lost potential for new revenue.


Will Sablove, who works for Oxfam America , said the revenue raised from the tax would have done a lot of good for underprivileged people.

“We should be using money to help people in need, not on high rises that cost $2 million per bedroom,” Sablove said.

Though the tax increase on the wealthy will not appear on the ballot this November, some backers of the ballot question said they hoped another version could be tried in the future.

“I think it’s a roadblock,” Andrew Bouren, a mental health worker, said. “But I think they can find other ways to get a tax through.”

Michael Felsen, a regional solicitor with the US Department of Labor in Boston, said he supported the principle behind the tax, and “if there was a way to do that constitutionally, I would support that bill.”


Marek Mazurek can be reached at marek.mazurek@globe.com