While QCAN normally focuses on local climate action and does not endorse political candidates, we were moved to officially put our support behind the Fair Share Amendment that will be on the ballot as Question #1 in the upcoming Massachusetts election. That’s because, if this amendment passes, it will create money to help support our public transportation system and electrify our city buses. And if more people utilized public transportation – if our transit system was better funded and more reliable so more people could and would use it more often – there would be fewer cars on the road, less fossil fuels burning, less air pollution from combustion engines. Good for the environment, good for slowing down climate change, good for our overall health.
So what is the Fair Share Amendment, exactly?
The Fair Share Amendment “would create a 4% tax on the portion of a person’s annual income above $1 million and require – in the state constitution – that the funds be spent only on transportation and public education.” This would generate an estimated $2 billion in additional revenue each year to invest in better public schools and universities, safer bridges, and more reliable public transportation. To ensure that this additional tax continues to apply only to the commonwealth’s highest-income taxpayers, the $1 millon income threshold will be adjusted annually to reflect any increases in the cost of living.
How will this help us fight climate change?
Massachusetts needs a more reliable, safer, and expanded public transit system. In the past few years, we’ve seen the MBTA become the opposite – less reliable, less safe, and less service. With a better MBTA, we can get more cars off the road and reduce our emissions. But to fix the MBTA, the state needs money. This is where the Fair Share Amendment comes in. With a new and stable source of revenue, we could advocate for public transportation funding and for the electrification of buses, and lawmakers who say they support these things wouldn’t be able to hide behind the excuse that there’s no money available in the budget.
We at QCAN were excited that the new state climate bill included electrification of MBTA buses. With money from the Fair Share Amendment, the state could reach this goal on time or even sooner. And we’d love to see electric buses as soon as possible! Have you driven behind an MBTA bus lately as plumes of black smoke belch out from its tailpipe? We have, and we find it inexcusable. Quincy has the oldest buses in the MBTA fleet, and we deserve cleaner buses. We need those buses to be replaced as soon as possible for our own health and the health of the environment. The Fair Share Amendment could make clean buses and a reliable, on-time Red Line a possibility for Quincy.
– Gina Favata, QCAN board member