To make real progress towards achieving health equity, Massachusetts must invest in creating the underlying conditions that support health and wellness, such as access to clean air and water, healthy food, stable housing, reliable public transit, education and safe communities.
In 2022, MPHA endorsed two statewide ballot questions with far-reaching implications for public health. The first would raise significant funding for public transportation and education, two important drivers of positive health outcomes. The second would reduce hit-and-run accidents and improve road safety, while also making it easier for all families to make essential trips by car when necessary. We are delighted that both ballot measures passed by sizable margins!
Question 1: The Fair Share Amendment
Because health equity can only be achieved by investing in the social conditions that create positive health outcomes, MPHA joined with Raise Up Massachusetts to support the Fair Share Amendment.
Massachusetts has a reputation for progressive policies, but until passage of Question 1, our Constitution mandated a flat income tax of 5 percent for all residents. Rather than having a progressive tax system in which higher annual incomes are taxed at higher rates — as is true at the federal level and in many other states — income in Massachusetts was taxed at the same rate for everyone. The result was a regressive tax system, in which low- and moderate-income households paid a higher share of their income in state and local taxes than households with higher incomes.
The Fair Share Amendment changed the Massachusetts Constitution to implement a surtax of 4% on the portion of a person’s income over $1 million. By raising the top marginal tax rate to 9%, Massachusetts joined many other states that have implemented similar taxation policies, including Vermont (8.95%), New Jersey (8.97%), New York (9.65%), Minnesota (9.85%), Oregon (9.9%), Hawaii (11%), and California (13.3%).
The Fair Share Amendment appeared as Question 1 on the ballot in November of 2022, and passed with 52% of voters in favor of the measure. The new revenue, approximately $2 billion a year, will be constitutionally dedicated to public education and transportation.
Question 4 for Safer Roads
In July 2022, thanks to support from a broad coalition including MPHA, the Massachusetts legislature passed the Work and Family Mobility Act. This important legislation improves road safety by allowing all qualified state residents to apply for a standard driver’s license, regardless of their immigration status. In passing this law, Massachusetts became the 17th state to ensure that all drivers are tested, licensed, and insured, while enabling families to safely make essential trips like dropping kids off at school and going to the doctor.
Despite research demonstrating that expanding driver’s license eligibility reduces hit-and-run accidents and improves road safety for everyone, opponents of the bill launched a last-minute ballot initiative in an attempt to overturn the law. As a result, the measure appeared on the November ballot as Question 4 for Safer Roads. MPHA endorsed Question 4, educating our members and supporters and asking them to vote YES. Overall, 54% of voters supported maintaining the Work and Family Mobility Act, .