Most of us in 350 Mass would like to see a more progressive model of taxation in MA, so the Fair Share Amendment (FSA), or millionaires’ tax, which would impose a surtax on the state income taxes of Massachusetts taxpayers with incomes of more than a million a year, probably strikes our members as a good thing. What may be less obvious is the connection to climate and environmental justice. Passing the Fair Share Amendment isn’t just a solidarity opportunity, it’s a direct part of 350 Mass’s mission.
That connection is central to 350 Mass’s Transportation Working Group (TWG), because the revenues generated by the FSA, if it passes, will be divided between transportation and education. The transportation sector is the largest source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in Massachusetts, so cleaner transportation is an essential aspect of fighting climate change. But strengthening our public transit system and pedestrian and bike infrastructure to provide alternatives to single occupancy vehicles, making transit affordable through reduced or free fares, electrifying public transit fleets, school buses, and municipal vehicles, and providing incentives and infrastructure for electrifying the private fleet, especially for lower-income drivers, all cost money. Transportation, especially public transit, is woefully underfunded in Massachusetts. Every goal we in the TWG pursue comes with the proviso of “How will we pay for it?”
Many revenue sources that deserve serious consideration (raising the gas tax, the Transportation Climate Initiative, congestion pricing schemes) are regressive, falling more heavily on lower-income individuals and communities. Such measures may still be worth supporting, given mitigations and preferential investment in environmental justice communities, but revenue for climate and environmental justice investments should come first and foremost from those who can most easily afford it and who have benefited most from Massachusetts’s skewed economy. The FSA would offer a sustainable and progressive source of funding for transportation investments to cut GHG emissions, reduce harmful pollution in environmental justice neighborhoods, and offer affordable and safe transportation options to essential workers and underserved communities. Our climate and solidarity commitments alike make passing the FSA a priority campaign.
So, what can we do, individually and collectively, to help the FSA pass? The TWG, together with the Solidarity Working Group, held a webinar in September on just that. (If you missed it, the webinar was recorded — I’ve given the link at the end of this post.) We are now moving on to next steps.
If you’re interested in the campaign and would like to help with our planning, the Fair Share team and the TWG welcome new members: come get involved (my contact info is below; I can put you in touch with other members of the team)! Nodes that want to work on the campaign collectively but aren’t sure how can host a member of the Fair Share team at a node meeting; we’ll be happy to offer background and help brainstorm ideas. Individuals can also contact other organizations that they’re involved in that work on climate, justice, education (remember that FSA revenue would be divided between transportation and education), and other progressive causes to see if they know about the FSA, endorse it, and make it a part of their fight.
And you can reach out to individual MA voters to inform them about the FSA and ask for their pledge to vote Yes. We are working closely with Raise Up Mass on this project; paper and online pledge cards are available from them (see links at the end of the post). We have set a goal of 750 pledges from 350 Mass, and everyone can help us reach it. Nodes and individuals can think creatively about where and how to collect pledges: farmers’ markets, rallies, bus stops, outside polling places, through networks rooted in faith communities, workplaces, or family and friends … the possibilities are endless. We’re thinking about prizes for nodes that collect most pledges or that meet or exceed their pledge goals (we don’t want to leave the small but mighty nodes out!). Let’s make this happen.
My contact info: Sylvia Parsons, [email protected].
Webinar recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LM14F-J34Mo
Online FSA pledge form:
To request paper pledge cards:
For background on the FSA, see RaiseUp Massachusetts’s page:
On some aspects of the budgetary situation for transportation in MA, see:
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