Teachers Unions Buy a ‘Millionaire Tax’ in Massachusetts

Steven Malanga:

Only recently, Massachusetts media described the state government as “awash in cash.” State revenue in 2022 increased 20%, spurring higher spending and triggering $2.94 billion in taxpayer rebates.

The last thing one might have expected, then, was a big tax increase. But on Tuesday Bay State voters approved a $2 billion hike in the form of an amendment to the state constitution adding a 4% surcharge on incomes above $1 million—with much of the revenue designated for schools.

Voters had previously rejected the “millionaire tax” five times. There’s no one reason why it succeeded this time, 52% to 48%, but a significant factor was the ever-growing influence of public-worker unions. Education unions alone poured $23 million into the campaign. That included $15.5 million from the Massachusetts Teachers Association and $6.57 from the National Education Association.

Government unions have made high taxes a priority. In 2016 the California Teachers Association spent $21 million to pass Proposition 55, which extended a tax increase on those making more than $250,000. In 2020 teachers unions, including the NEA, dropped $8 million to win approval of Arizona Proposition 208, a 3.5% surcharge on high earners, only to have a court declare the tax unconstitutional.