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Dan Cence, Advocate for No On Ballot Question 1 in MA, The Fair Share Amendment

As a part of my Ballot Question Series, I sat down and talked with Dan Cence, Advocate for No On 1, The Fair Share Amendment, also known as “The Millionaire’s Tax”.

Dan is a veteran political and strategic communications strategist with more than 25 years of experience. He has worked in both the public and private sectors in communications, politics and government affairs, bringing savvy and a good-natured attitude to client work and his leadership of the firm.

Dan’s sweet spot is aligning complex issue projects with goals that can be achieved only through skillfully messaged and coordinated, multi-channel campaigns. He has a proven ability to tap into grassroots and grasstops, from City Hall to the State House to Washington D.C. and beyond.

Dan was senior strategist for five U.S. House campaigns, three U.S. Senate campaigns, and multiple gubernatorial races. He has served as Massachusetts press secretary for the Democratic nominees in three presidential elections: President Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, and Hillary Clinton in 2016. He is often tapped to serve as a lead campaign spokesman in the media, recently filling that role for the winning side in the 2018 ballot’s closely watched Vote No on 1 to Protect Patient Safety, on behalf of the coalition led by the Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association.

Dan founded and managed two successful political consulting and government affairs firms, where he represented a wide array of clients including Congresswoman Katherine Clark, New Balance, Suffolk Downs, and Microsoft.

Dan serves on the Board of Directors for the non-profit Children’s Advocacy Center of Suffolk County, which works to raise funds and awareness for children and families dealing with violent and sexual offenses committed against their loved ones. He is also on the board of the Van Noy Valor Foundation, an organization founded by New England Patriots linebacker Kyle Van Noy to support and enhance the lives of adopted children, those in foster care, and disadvantaged youth.

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Transcript – Please note, this Transcript is AI Generated. It has not had the discerning ears of a real human to edit it, as such, there are bound to be a few errors

Jimmy Tingle 0:05
Hey everybody, this is Jimmy, welcome back to the Jimmy tingle Show. Today we have a spokesperson for the no on Question one ballot question, folks, because we want to give both sides of the issues. So we have a well informed and enlightened audience. And I know you already are, but we’re gonna even enlighten you further. Please welcome to the show, The One and Only Mr. Dan Cence. He is the spokesperson for the no on Question one coalition. Hello, Dan, welcome to the show.

Dan Cence 0:32
Hey, Jimmy, thank you for having me on. I really appreciate the time.

Jimmy Tingle 0:35
It’s our pleasure. So Dan, first of all, just tell us basically, what is the fair share amendment?

Dan Cence 0:42
Sure, it’s a constitutional amendment who would actually change our Constitution, as it was written by John Adams, a couple 100 years ago, that would impart attacks on to people changing our flat income tax to a graduated one for income over $1 million, and would raise it by 80%. So from 5% to 9%, jump,

Jimmy Tingle 1:07
it raise the tax from 5% to 90%, to nine

Dan Cence 1:10
to nine. So it’s an 80% increase, but it was okay, four percentage points, right, from five up to nine on all income over a million dollars

Jimmy Tingle 1:19
for income over a million dollars. So if somebody makes $1.1 million, they would be charged 4% on the extra $100,000 over the million dollars, correct?

Dan Cence 1:32
Right? That’s okay. In very simple sense. Yes, that’s

Jimmy Tingle 1:36
right. It’s it’s so it’s 4% on the tax over over a million dollars of income. So then roughly how many people would be affected by this tax of over $1,000,000.04 percent over a million dollars?

Dan Cence 1:47
Yeah, it’s tough to say Jimmy, it would be 10s of 1000s of people each year, and it would increase each year, I will tell you that half the people 50.5%, right, little more than half the people captured by it each year, it would be the only time in their life, they would pay 77% of the people captured by it. It’ll only happen to them twice. People who sell a home, people who sell a small business, people who sell a farm, the Massachusetts Farm Bureau stands with us in opposition to this, because it captures all of your income in one major event. So you may not make your job may not generate million dollars a year you may be someone retiring, you may be somebody from Cambridge who sells their house. And that one time, you’re going to pay 80% more tax on that income that year. We don’t believe that’s fair.

Jimmy Tingle 2:41
Well, it wouldn’t be 80% more tax. So it would be it would be 4% over a million dollars of income.

Dan Cence 2:48
That’d be 80% more than you’re paying today. Yeah, because it’s five goes up, like five goes up to nine and that’s the nine over five is 80%. Higher on that money over? Yeah.

Jimmy Tingle 3:00
On that money. Okay. It’s not like people getting don’t tell me I’m gonna get taxed 80% am I if I sell my house? Now, the proponents are saying that I am. As I said, I interviewed one of the the yes, on question ones yesterday. And they were saying it’s about 20,000 people that were estimating in the state that would be eligible for the tax. It’s like point, I think, Oh, 6% or something less than 1% of the people. But the reason they want to do it, according to them is they want more money for transportation and for education. Do you think that’s a valid need? Or do you think this is a well intentioned

Dan Cence 3:39
effort? Without question, it’s well intended, we need investment in transportation, we need spending on education, no question about that. Those are noble endeavors, Jimmy. I’m someone that travels down the turnpike every day to try to get to work. And you know, some days it takes me two hours to go 20 miles, so I see the need for it. Unfortunately, this measure will not guarantee to increase spending at all, in either of those two tranches. It was brought before the Supreme Judicial Court in 2018, when the language actually intended to increase spending, it was thrown out is unconstitutional is aligned in there that says subject to appropriation. And that’s how our legislature works. That’s how our constitution works is that the legislature decides the level of spending. And then the, you know, the administration spends that money, and we can’t, from a ballot question standpoint, increase any of that funding, so the money will go to education, it will go to transportation, but then other monies that were already set aside to be appropriated there will go back into the general fund. And they can be appropriated as the legislature sees fit, you know, and we have we had a 5 billion In dollars surplus this year, Jimmy, we got $2.94 billion being returned to the taxpayers of Massachusetts. This year, we got 10 billion coming from the federal government and an infrastructure bill was 16 spending on education per pupil in the nation, and third, and standardized test score. It’s not a question of funding and education. It’s more a question of, of equity and how we deal with that. And this, this ballot question doesn’t doesn’t address any of that. So do I want to and should we invest in those? Absolutely. Unfortunately, this doesn’t do that.

Jimmy Tingle 5:33
Well, the change that they made to the Constitution that you alluded to in the opening statement, doesn’t that solidify a guarantee that the money would go to specifically education and transportation, and there wouldn’t be that little wiggle room. That was that was kind of a loophole earlier. And other appropriations there is that loophole, as you know, you give the legislature wiggle room, they can do whatever they want, right. In this case, I would, my understanding was that because it was a constitutional amendment, there was more, there was a more fixed targeted allocation of funds.

Dan Cence 6:09
So the monies will be allocated to education, and transportation, but it will not increase spending in those areas. I so for round numbers, if the legislature comes out with a $20 billion for education and transportation, round numbers, whatever it may be, right, and we generate a billion from this, then it goes in, they match it with another 19. And other billion that they had allocated for it goes back into the general fund, and they can spend spend it any way they see fit. It doesn’t guarantee increase funding, and transportation education. So it just takes the place of other monies,

Jimmy Tingle 6:46
right. But if they wanted to increase the transportation or the education, they could,

Dan Cence 6:51
and they could advocate for health care, and they could advocate it for childcare, and they could advocate for mental health, they can advocate for any of the number and by the environment, any of the number of things that the legislature allocates money towards, and folks advocate for, they can spend it upon and they can spend it in their districts and they can spend it anywhere they want to. But whatever

Jimmy Tingle 7:10
comes in from this tax would have to go to education, and transportation, but surplus money or other monies could be you know, if it comes in it can be allocated accordingly.

Dan Cence 7:23
It will create surplus money, right. Okay. Do you know what I’m saying? Yes. Doesn’t it doesn’t increase, it doesn’t increase it at all.

Jimmy Tingle 7:31
Right? Unless they had that until less they did. It was their discretion to use it.

Dan Cence 7:35
Which is the discretion every year whether or not we have this ballot question or not, it’s their discretion how they spend it. We already spend a significant amount of money, as I mentioned, was 60 in the nation and spending in education already. We’re already there.

Jimmy Tingle 7:46
So tell me who is no on the fair share amendment. From what you can tell as the leading opponent?

Dan Cence 7:55
Yeah, we’re a coalition of over 1000 organizations representing over 25,000 businesses and hundreds of 1000s employees across Massachusetts groups like the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce, the Boston Chamber of Commerce, the Western Mass Economic Development Council, the Massachusetts farmers Bureau, Massachusetts real estate Retailers Association, we are represented from Provincetown, all the way out to the Berkshires, across this commonwealth, with with folks who know that it’s wrong minded. It’s the wrong time for it. It’s not the right time to have this tax, Massachusetts, when we have this huge surplus. We’re coming out of COVID. We have supply chain issues, we have inflation, businesses don’t need this heat to honor the top of them. And we don’t need the folks stalling our economy now.

Jimmy Tingle 8:46
Are you saying that the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce is opposed to this? As is the Boston Chamber of Commerce?

Dan Cence 8:52
100%? Yes. Okay.

Jimmy Tingle 8:54
And how many people from these opposing views putting in money? Where’s the money coming to fund your campaign? Yeah,

Dan Cence 9:03
we have we have money from a significant group of individuals, obviously, you have to list your top five donors. That’s the way the laws work on these ballot questions. And there are a few very wealthy individuals and businesses who’ve given us money because they understand that what the impact it’ll be to the economy into their employees across here. And then the other side, all of the monies come from the teachers unions.

Jimmy Tingle 9:25
Again, when I was interviewing them yesterday, they said they had 500 different organizations, unions, teachers, unions, individuals,

Dan Cence 9:35
we have hundreds as well, you know, the lion’s share of their money comes from a union the lion’s share of our money comes from a couple of well heeled donors. That’s That’s how politics works in Massachusetts these days. It’s, it is what it is, you know, and we have, we have hundreds of small donations to the same type of thing, but nobody, I don’t think anybody really gets into that.

Jimmy Tingle 9:53
We’re trying to determine who’s supporting who.

Dan Cence 9:57
You know, it’s all it’s all organized. About the other side. And the question you have to ask yourself is, what’s the ROI they’re looking for? Why are they investing $25 million into this? What are they going to pro and promised and members to get back in return for the money that’s been there?

Jimmy Tingle 10:12
Well, again, we go back to education and transportation. And we all we got to do is look at the orange line. And all we got to do is look at the tee, you know, it resonates with people, like you were talking about, we’re coming out of the pandemic, the test scores came out, two days ago, nationally, the test scores are down, you know, there’s more of a need for it. But let me ask you this, how can people find out more about your organization? What’s the website? And if they want to get involved? Do you guys accept donations?

Dan Cence 10:39
Oh, absolutely. No, no question. is the website to join us and join with 1000 other folks and organizations across the state who have joined together and understand while it might be well intended, it’s not going to increase funding for transportation and education. Jimmy, it’s just it’s been proven not to be the case, they can’t guarantee a chairman of Ways and Means was on the cover of the globe the other day saying, there’s no guarantee that there’ll be any increase in this because that’s just not the way that it works. So, you know, it’s intended to go after the Uber wealthy, Uber wealthy already domicile out of Massachusetts, Uber wealthy tax plan and spend tons of money preparing for this and planning for these things. This is going to hurt middle class people who are retiring or running small businesses who are selling small businesses, farmers in Massachusetts who are selling surplus land, that’s what’s this is going to disproportionately affect.

Jimmy Tingle 11:37
But it is a 4% tax on income over a million dollars. So if you have a real estate deal, and you you know, you write off the cost of the house, and you write off the cost of the land, and anything over a million dollars in profit gets taxed at 4%. Just to be clear

Dan Cence 11:56
on it’s taxed at 9% 4% more. It’s taxed at 94%. Right? Yeah, yeah, four on top of five. Yep, the one time in your life, that you bought a house in 1972 and central square, and then you’re looking to retire and sell it and it went up. You know, who knows, probably bought it for 100 grand, and now it’s worth a couple million dollars and you want to retire, you want to you want to downsize, you want to give that money to your kids and their education and what you’re going to do the one time in your life, you’re gonna have a windfall after paying off the mortgage and work in your whole life to pay for it. Now you’re gonna have to pay more taxes

Jimmy Tingle 12:28
on it. 4% of a million in profit. Right. So what’s the name of the website? Again?

Dan Cence 12:33
No question.

Jimmy Tingle 12:36
No question. Dan sensity lead spokesperson for no on question. One, ladies and gentlemen. No one question Dan, thanks a million for joining us. We appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule. You’re traveling. You’re in hotel rooms, criss crossing the state

Dan Cence 12:54
JBLM all over the place. It’s good. We’re gonna be over soon. On November 8, though, no one will appreciate it. Thank you all did.

Jimmy Tingle 13:00
Thank you so much. All right. Talk to you soon. All right. Thank you for joining us today. This has been a humor for humanity production. Our mission is your mission humor for humanity. Jimmy Thank you

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