BOSTON, Mass. (WPRI/AP) — Massachusetts voters have four statewide questions on their ballot, running the gamut of topics.
Question 1 looks to impose a 4% surtax on individuals with an annual income exceeding $1 million.
Those making up to $1 million, but not exceeding that amount, wouldn’t pay new taxes.
Supporters — including labor unions, community organizations and religious groups — have argued that the new tax would generate about $2 billion in annual revenue that could be used for education and transportation.
Opponents, including business groups, warned the measure could end up costing jobs and driving away some of the state’s wealthiest citizens.
The state’s constitution currently requires all income be taxed at uniform rates. The $1 million threshold would be adjusted each year to reflect cost-of-living increases.
Question 2, which was approved Tuesday, would regulate dental insurance rates, including requiring companies to spend at least 83% of premiums on member dental expenses and quality improvements instead of administrative expenses, and by making other changes to dental insurance regulations.
The Massachusetts Dental Society thanked the state’s voters for passing the referendum.
“Together, we put patients first over profits,” Massachusetts Dental Society Meredith Bailey said. “Dental patients deserve the same consumer protections as medical patients and we are hopeful that the better dental benefits that the people of Massachusetts will soon experience will spread to patients across the country.”
Question 3 would increase the number of alcoholic beverage licenses and would change how establishments are fined.
If approved, Question 4 would keep in place a law that grants undocumented immigrants the right to a driver’s license.
The measure became law after the Democrat-controlled Massachusetts House and Senate overrode a veto by Republican Gov. Charlie Baker in June.
Under the new law, those in the country illegally will be able to apply for a driver’s license if they can provide the Registry of Motor Vehicles with a foreign passport or consular identification document.
They must also provide one of five additional documents: a driver’s license from another U.S. state or territory; a birth certificate; a foreign national identification card; a foreign driver’s license; or a marriage certificate or divorce decree from any U.S. state or territory.
The new law is set to take effect July 1, 2023.
The law was a win for immigrant rights groups that had long pushed for the measure, framing it as a public safety measure. They said those seeking licenses will have to show they can properly operate a car and will be less likely to flee after a crash.
Critics, including Republican Gov. Charlie Baker and GOP candidate for governor Geoff Diehl, said the law could make it easier for those in the country illegally to be able to vote. Supporters say the law prohibits immigrants without legal permission to reside in the U.S. from being automatically registered to vote.
Sixteen other states and the District of Columbia have similar laws.
There are two other questions on the ballot.