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Andrew Farnitano, Advocate for Yes On Ballot Question 1 in MA, The Fair Share Amendment

As a part of my Ballot Question Series, I sat down and talked with Andrew Farnitano, Advocate for Yes On 1, The Fair Share Amendment, also known as “The Millionaire’s Tax”.

Andrew Farnitano is a communications consultant at Crawford Strategies and serves as communications director for Fair Share for Massachusetts, the campaign working to pass Question 1 on the November ballot. Question 1, known as the Fair Share Amendment, would create a 4 percent tax on the portion of a person’s annual income above $1 million and constitutionally dedicate the funds to be spent on transportation and public education. Question 1 is backed by thousands of educators, workers, small business owners, parents, faith leaders, state and municipal officials, drivers, and transit riders, as well as more than 500 organizations across the state. Andrew is a graduate of Northeastern University and lives in Hyde Park with his wife and daughter.

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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. It is great to be with you again today. We have another ballot question we’re going to talk about today, ladies and gentlemen and our spokesperson for this ballot question. Question number one, please welcome to the show Andrew Farnitano. He is the communications director for the fair share Massachusetts. Drumroll please, ladies and gentlemen, the one the only Mr. Andrew found a tunnel. Hello, Andrew, how are you?

Andrew Farnitano 0:34
It Jimmy it’s great to be here. I’m excited. We got two weeks until Election Day. And I’m excited to be here.

Jimmy Tingle 0:38
Great. Well, first of all, just explain to everybody what exactly is the fair share amendment, also known as the millionaire’s tax?

Andrew Farnitano 0:46
Yeah, so it’s got a lot of names, the Fair Share amendment, the millionaire’s tax, the most important one question one on the ballot in November, it’s a great opportunity to invest in our public schools or colleges, our roads, bridges and public transportation to make all those things that are so important to our communities stronger. And we can do so by making our tax system fairer. So question, one would create a 4% tax on the portion of a person’s income, that’s over $1 million. So if you make less than a million dollars in a single year, you won’t pay a penny more, that’s 99% of us here in Massachusetts won’t pay one cent more. For those lucky few who make over a million dollars in a single year, they’ll pay an extra four cents on their second million, their third million, everything above an extra four cents on every dollar. And that money will be dedicated to roads and bridges and public transportation as well as our schools and colleges.

Jimmy Tingle 1:43
Okay, in terms of numbers, how many people are we talking about that will be affected approximately very

Andrew Farnitano 1:48
few, we’re talking about about 20,000 people in a given year. These are the top it’s actually less than 1% of taxpayers in the state who would pay more, and very few of them would pay a substantial amount more if someone makes a little bit over a million dollars in one year, they’re gonna pay a little bit more. But the people who make a lot over a million dollars will pay more on that second, third, fourth million, that’s where most of the money raised by this amendment will come from.

Jimmy Tingle 2:17
Right. So you’re talking about 20 people who get a tax increase on 4% above a million dollars and you’re advocating for yes, on one. That’s what that ballot question is this ballot question you’re advocating for? Yes. Are there people in that category of those 20,000? People who are also advocates of yes, on one?

Andrew Farnitano 2:38
Yes, certainly, I think a lot of people who have been successful in our economy understand that these basic elements, good public schools that create a good, well educated workforce, a public transportation system, and roads and bridges that are reliable, that help people get to and from work, to and from where they need to go. Those are core elements of what makes our economy successful. And so we are proud to have support from over 100 business owners, people, small businesses that wouldn’t be affected as well as owners of large businesses who might pay a little bit more but understand that this is a good investment that we can make in the future of our Commonwealth.

Jimmy Tingle 3:17
I imagine if you’re in that, that category of income, there’s going to be a lot of people who went to public schools, who would probably be very appreciative. And I don’t I won’t say welcome the idea of paying more but at least being supportive it. Yeah, certainly

Andrew Farnitano 3:35
there was a great op ed, written in the Boston Business Journal this week by Muhammad Ali who’s CEO of a local tech company, IDG, with 1000s of employees, here in Boston, he talked about growing up going to public schools, how that was a opportunity for him to get ahead in life, get on the path that has brought him to a successful career and, and some personal income. And he’s and his his conclusion was that when you look at the basic system of taxes we have here in Massachusetts, it’s fair to ask a little bit more from those at the very top, who have been the most successful to give back a little bit to the next generation, fix our roads and bridges, invest in our public schools. And that’s how we’re going to grow an economy that works for everyone.

Jimmy Tingle 4:21
And the money is specifically targeted for education and transportation, is that correct?

Andrew Farnitano 4:27
That’s right. And the great thing about this is it’s not a normal law, that the legislature can just go and change anytime they feel like it. This is a constitutional amendment. So this would be a permanent change in our state’s constitution. And that dedication that the money must be spent only on education and transportation can’t be changed by the legislature. They can’t choose to spend the money on something else in the future. Only the voters have a say over this and the voters will have said the money must go to education and transportation that’ll be binding on legislature.

Jimmy Tingle 5:01
So there’s no wiggle room. So once it passes, and the money goes in there, it’s not like it’s in the general fund. And they can say, You know what, we’d rather put it into something else.

Andrew Farnitano 5:12
Right? They can’t spend it on anything else other than education and transportation.

Jimmy Tingle 5:16
Okay, well, it’ll be interesting to see how that works out.

Andrew Farnitano 5:18
We’ve got a great coalition of over 500 organizations all across the state that’s going to be watching closely after election day, you know, once we win this thing, we’re going to be there the next day and the next year to make sure that the money is reaching the classroom and reaching our local roads and bridges, because that’s why we’re in this fight. We know that these areas of our economy need more investment that we’re falling behind in our schools, students are really struggling to recover from the pandemic. Our roads and bridges just aren’t carrying the vehicles and the people that they need to. They’re fallen into disrepair, and we need to do something about

Jimmy Tingle 5:58
it. Andrew, you said that you have a coalition of 500 organizations?

Andrew Farnitano 6:03
That’s right. So this is a really enormous campaign. We’ve been working on this for years. So we’ve built up an enormous coalition of everyone from labor unions, representing teachers and health care workers, and trades people to community and faith based groups, over 100 businesses across the state. Local officials from city councils and school committees in over 50 communities have voted to support question one. So it’s a really broad based coalition of working people all across the state in every every city in town, who were calling on voters to pass this important amendment and make these investments.

Jimmy Tingle 6:46
And tell me about the opposition. What are some of the talking points of the opposition? I know, one of them that I heard was while the money might not go where it’s intended to go? That was one and you say that that’s constitutionally against the law. At this point, if it passes, what are some of the other talking points who actually is opposing this? Yeah,

Andrew Farnitano 7:05
so the the opposition to question one, there’s a ballot committee that’s been bankrolled by some of the wealthiest people in the state, there’s six wealthy individuals who have each contributed a million dollars or more to opposing this, and they are running some pretty misleading ads. We actually just this morning, we sent a letter to the TV stations in Boston, asking them to take down one of their ads, because it just crosses a line from deceptive advertising into really, really untrue statements. The issue that’s that’s at hand, they’re, their ads claim that question one would affect 10s of 1000s of people when they sell their homes. That’s just not true. There’s been a lot of research on this issue of home sales. And what it’s found is that last year, only 895 homes in the state sold for enough that they would be affected by this tax. So those are some of the wealthiest with the most expensive vacation homes and mansions in the state, less than 1% of all the homes that were sold in the state last year, which was a record year for the housing market sold for enough of again to be affected after all the different deductions that home sellers can take. So there’s just no way that this tax is going to affect middle class people selling their homes. It’s going to affect a few Nantucket mansions or suburban sprawling estates that are worth five or $6 million when they’re sold, those owners will have to pay a little bit more as they should. But it’s not going to affect the middle class when they’re selling a home.

Jimmy Tingle 8:39
What about the argument that people might leave the state people are of those 20,000 millionaires who qualify for the millionaire’s tax? might say, You know what, I’m going to wherever New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, whatever.

Andrew Farnitano 8:52
Yeah. So we’ve got New Hampshire right next door that doesn’t have an income tax at all. If someone cared that much about not paying their fair share in taxes that they wanted to move to New Hampshire, they would have done it already. There’s been a lot of research on this topic. And the very wealthy don’t move in response to changes in tax rates. Some people are going to retire to Florida, but they were planning on doing that anyway, for the weather. For the change in lifestyle. They’re not doing that in response to our tax rates. And you can see that when you look at the states that also tax million dollar incomes at a higher rate places like California, New Jersey, New York, Minnesota, they all have higher levels of million dollar income earners living in their states than some of these low tax states because they’ve made the choice to invest in good public schools to invest in reliable transportation system. And those are the types of things that make people want to live and raise a family and build a business in a state. Well, what

Jimmy Tingle 9:51
about the argument that businesses might not come to Massachusetts or businesses might leave as well?

Andrew Farnitano 9:58
Again, when you when you talk to business leaders right now, their biggest problem is finding workers. We have, you know, so many businesses right now that have a hiring shortage. We need a better educated workforce, we need to invest in vocational training, we need to invest in our community colleges and state universities to train the next generation of workers, we also need to invest in a transportation system that works to get those workers from their homes, to their jobs. And that matters much more to businesses than a marginal change in the tax rate that some of their wealthiest investors are going to pay.

Jimmy Tingle 10:34
So Andrew, who is funding the yes on one campaign,

Andrew Farnitano 10:38
most of our funding has come from unions, especially teachers unions, the Massachusetts Teachers Association, the AfD, Massachusetts and the National Education Association, which is one of the parent unions at the national level. So we’re really proud that this campaign has been embraced by the 10s of 1000s of public school teachers and paraprofessionals, and other educators all across the state that are kicking in their dues of money to fund this campaign and get us up on the airwaves and support our organizing all across the state. And it’s a really big contrast with the other side, which is predominantly funded by a tiny number of wealthy individuals.

Jimmy Tingle 11:19
So Andrew, do you accept donations? If the average person watching this wanted to contribute to the ballot question, could they do that?

Andrew Farnitano 11:26
We do. Yeah, you can. You can go on our website at FareShare and contribute. More importantly, we need volunteers. We’ve got two weeks left, we’re running canvasses and phone banks every single day where voters can talk to their neighbors about Question one, we’re going to win this campaign with boots on the ground, having conversations with our friends and family and neighbors. And so I’d encourage folks to go go to our website, again, fair share You can learn more, find answers to your questions, you can donate, you can volunteer, you can get involved.

Jimmy Tingle 12:02
Andrew, thank you so much for your time. Thank you for your efforts on behalf of the fair share amendment, and wishing you the best of luck. Thank you, Jimmy. 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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