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Renewed Push For 'Millionaire Tax' Moving Forward In Massachusetts

The Massachusetts State House is seen on May 1, 2015. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
The Massachusetts State House is seen on May 1, 2015. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Massachusetts lawmakers demonstrated strong support Wednesday for a new version of a proposal to raise taxes on the state's wealthiest residents and use the money to pay for education and transportation improvements.

A procedural vote to advance the proposed constitutional amendment was easily approved on a 156-37 vote Wednesday during a joint session of the Massachusetts Legislature.

The proposed constitutional amendment would impose a surtax of 4% on any portion of an individual's annual income exceeding $1 million. The measure calls for the estimated $2 billion in proceeds from the tax to be earmarked for education and transportation.

There was no debate prior to the procedural, largely party line vote. The constitutional convention is scheduled to meet again in June, when a further vote could be taken.

"I think it's important to many of the legislators and to residents of the commonwealth to put this on the ballot," said Senate President Karen Spilka, who backs the amendment.

The proposal nearly made it to the ballot last year before the state's highest court ruled it violated constitutional restrictions on voter-initiated laws. To get around the court's concerns, supporters this time are using a legislative process to amend the constitution.

The earliest the amendment could be ratified by voters is 2022.

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