9 a.m. | Gov. Maura Healey continues her Ireland visit with a stacked day of climate and political events and will sit on a "Homecoming: JFK In Ireland" panel on the 60-year anniversary of President Kennedy's trip to the country. | EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum, the chq Building , Custom House Quay, Dublin 1
9 a.m. | Seven digital health companies that are addressing healthy aging will compete for $200,000 in prizes as part of a competition hosted by MeHI, the Mass. eHealth Institute at MassTech. | The Engine, 750 Main Street Cambridge
9:30 a.m. | Press conference on the closure of the Sumner Tunnel from July 5 through Aug. 31. | Wonderland MBTA Station, 1300 North Shore Road, Revere
10 a.m. | Acting Gov. Kim Driscoll tours Pryde LGBTQ Senior Housing. | The Pryde, 15 Everett St., Hyde Park
1 p.m. | Ribbon-cutting event marking the opening of the GLX Community Path, which opened to the public on June 10. | Visiting Nurse Association of Eastern Massachusetts, 259 Lowell Street, Somerville
There’s a $600 million-dollar question confronting lawmakers tasked with hashing out differences in House and Senate versions of tax reform: Should the state crack down on married couples filing taxes separately to skirt the state’s new millionaire tax?
The state’s 6-month-old millionaire tax is expected to bring about $1 billion in new revenues for transportation and education spending this year, but the left-leaning Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center has estimated Massachusetts is leaving $200 million to $600 million on the table each year from married couples filing two single tax returns, each reporting less than $1 million in income, rather than a joint return that triggers the surtax.
Tucked inside the Senate’s plan for relief is a policy proposal that would change that. It would require married couples filing taxes jointly at the federal level to also file jointly at the state level.
Progressives in support of the change have downplayed the switch as a “technical fix” to “close a loophole.” But fiscal watchdogs are calling it a bit of a bait-and-switch. Elizabeth Mahoney, vice president of policy and government affairs for the Massachusetts High Technology Council pointed out that the language used by millionaire-tax proponents Raise Up Massachusetts and the Fair Share Coalition in promoting the policy last year frequently referred to the surtax’s applying to “individuals” making more than $1 million a year – not couples, households or families.
“This proposal is actually a significant policy change that contradicts all of the assurances made to the voters by the proponents of the new income surtax that it would only apply to individuals earning more than $1 million,” Mahoney told MASSterList.
Cindy Rowe, of the Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action and a member of Raise Up’s steering committee, said the current policy “creates an incentive for shifting of income between members of a married couple in an attempt to game the system.”
The text of the amendment voters approved in November called for “an additional tax of 4 percent on that portion of annual taxable income in excess of $1,000,000 (one million dollars) reported on any return related to those taxes.”
Conference committee representatives have asked the Healey administration for more information about how the joint-filer language would impact the overall tax relief package
Families or individuals? Fair Share Massachusetts on its website pushing the ballot question behind the surtax wrote: “Only the wealthiest Massachusetts residents — individuals who earn MORE THAN $1 million per year—will pay more: just 4% on the part of their annual income that is ABOVE $1 million.”
A MASSterList review of campaign materials found most advertising referenced “a person’s annual income” and “those who earn more than a million dollars in a single year.”
A paid ad told voters, “Anyone who makes less than $1 million a year doesn’t pay an extra cent.”
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Short-circuit: Electrical issue likely led to Red Line death of passenger stuck in door
A report by federal transportation regulators concluded that a short circuit on a Red Line train was likely to blame for the April 2022 death of Robinson Lalin, who was caught in a door and dragged to his death when trying to exit the train at Broadway Station, reports Bruce Mohl for Commonwealth Magazine. An NTSB report issued on Tuesday also found that the train operator did not comply with all procedures before pulling away from the station, but said the primary cause was a series of wire strands in the lead subway car that touched a mounting screw, completing a short circuit.
Jammed: Stuck doors delay Orange Line commute, too
Universal Hub reports the MBTA’s door problems are becoming a “royal pain” after the Tuesday-morning commute included 15-minute delays on the Orange Line when one of those brand new trains suffered another embarrassing “door issue” — this time at Green Street.
State auditor needs broader leeway to investigate MBTA, she says
Auditor Diana DiZoglio is looking for legislative approval that would allow her to regularly audit the MBTA with more frequency. DiZoglio has cited “profound concerns” over a spate of safety issues, including an Orange Line train catching on fire last year and a Red Line passenger being dragged to his death, reports Alison Kuznitz for State House News Service. Bills that DiZoglio filed with Rep. Christopher Worrell and Sen. Liz Miranda (H 3132 / S 2032) would allow the auditor’s office to conduct audits of the MBTA once every two years and “as often as the state auditor determines is necessary.”
Healey reflects on Irish roots in address to Ireland’s Senate
Gov. Maura Healey was recognized as a “hero and a trailblazer” to Ireland, on her first foreign trip in her new role during her emotional address before the Irish Senate. Irish lawmakers welcomed Healey as “a person of firsts,” as the first woman elected governor of Massachusetts, the first member of the LGBTQI+ community elected as governor, and the first governor of Massachusetts to address the Irish Senate. Healey is in Ireland through Friday.
Prisoners testify live at moratorium hearing
A group of 20 women from MCI Framingham testified in a live Zoom hearing for the first time in legislative history this week, reports Sarah Betancourt for GBH. They spoke in favor of a prison moratorium bill that would put a five-year pause on building new prisons and renovating those currently in operation.
Progressives urge lawmakers to reject tax cuts for wealthy
Activists with left-leaning Raise Up Massachusetts are pressing lawmakers to drop relief for the state’s wealthiest residents from a tax-cut package being negotiated in a conference committee, wrote Christian Wade for The Eagle Tribune. In a Tuesday rally, labor leaders and social justice groups said they should drop a proposal to cut the state’s capital gains tax from 12% to 5% and scale back relief from the estate or “death” tax, among other demands.
Pride: A look at same-sex couples in Massachusetts
A two-reporter team at The Boston Globe takes a dive into the state of same-sex couples in Massachusetts in honor of Pride Month. According to data released last month by the US Census Bureau, 33,488, or 1.2 percent, of the state’s 2.7 million households were same-sex couple households. That’s higher than the national average of 0.9 percent.
Former DCF social workers charged with posing as Boston high school student
A 32-year-old woman and former social worker for the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families faces criminal charges after allegedly posing as a student in three Boston schools, reports WCVB’s Karen Anderson. A criminal complaint issued Tuesday states Shelby Hewitt is facing two felony counts of forging documents and five other charges related to the scheme.
Forty is enough: Cambridge school board to lose longest-serving member
Cambridge School Committee Fred Fantini says he will not seek another term and will retire in January after winning 20 elections and serving four decades on the board, enough to make him the longest-serving member in the board’s history, Marc Levy of Cambridge Day reports.
Contractor says worker hung Confederate flag spotted in Fitchburg
The owner of a Connecticut-based contractor is apologizing after a Confederate flag was spotted mounted on one of his company’s trucks while on a MassDOT project along Route 2 in Fitchburg. William Garrity says a worker on one of his paving crews found the flag on the ground and hung it on a company truck without considering the implications. Although bills banning the flag in the Bay State have never passed, MassDOT says its regulations prohibit displaying the symbol.
Teachers and schools on Nantucket seek mediation over contract standoff
The Nantucket school district and the local teachers union have jointly asked the state to mediate a 9-month long contract impasse, a move that reveals that teachers are seeking larger raises after agreeing to more modest pay hikes in a deal done during the pandemic.
Pittsfield budget closeout pushed to brink amid chaos at council
The Pittsfield City Council will hold a special meeting on Friday–the last day of the current fiscal year–in the hopes of reconciling the city’s books after a single councilor objected to payments sought to cover shortfalls in some budget lines. The Berkshire Eagle’s Meg Britton-Mehlisch reports Councilor Charles Kronick says Mayor Linda Tyer should have planned better and bears the blame for the last-minute scramble.