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Raise Up Massachusetts calls on Mass. legislators to invest in public services

Demonstrators in Nubian Square call for more taxes on corporations

Morgan C. Mullings
Raise Up Massachusetts calls on Mass. legislators to invest in public services
Beth Huang of Mass Voter Table speaks during a RaiseUp Mass rally in Nubian Sq.

Raise Up Massachusetts, a coalition of community, labor and faith groups, launched its “Invest in Our Recovery” campaign last Wednesday in front of the Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building. Members of the Boston Teachers Union, the Chinese Progressive Association, the Massachusetts Public Health Association and other organizations joined together to demand that taxes rates be raised in three sectors: on corporate profits, on income earned by foreign affiliates of U.S. companies and on investors’ unearned income.

Many held signs displaying their names, where they work and what they’re fighting for, with phrases like “equal opportunities” and “healthcare for all.” Monica Cannon-Grant, founder of the Violence in Boston movement, spoke to the crowd about problems of homelessness, hunger and proper education for Boston’s youth.

“COVID didn’t cause these problems, it exacerbated a preexisting issue. There were already 5,000 Boston Public school children who are homeless, hungry, living in shelters and not being able to eat,” she said, urging legislators not to cut services that directly affect the Black community.

Given the uncertainty around the state’s budget and possible federal aid, essential workers from several industries are asking state leaders to take action in the recovery of COVID-19.

Beth Huang, director of the Massachusetts Voter Table, helped organize the demonstration to bring light to the ways that corporations can help their cause.

“We are demanding that they pay their fair share. There are lots of people earning more and more money off of a booming stock market. And we believe that both the individuals who are continuing to make money from stocks, bonds and dividends, should be paying their fair share, and can be contributing even more during this time of hardship for so many workers,” Huang told the Banner. “The federal government still hasn’t acted; they still haven’t granted aid to states yet. I think we’re looking down the barrel of $6 billion of a budget gap unless we take the necessary actions that we need to take.”

Demonstrators gather at the Nubian Square bus terminal to demonstrate in favor of increased corporate taxes. PHOTO: MORGAN C. MULLINGS

Demonstrators gather at the Nubian Square bus terminal to demonstrate in favor of increased corporate taxes. PHOTO: MORGAN C. MULLINGS

Raise Up Massachusetts demands that the current tax rate on corporate profits be raised back to the pre-2009 rate of 9.5%, to generate up to $525 million annually from profitable Massachusetts businesses, according to the group’s press release. They also want Massachusetts to tax a portion of Global Intangible Low-Taxed Income – money that multinational businesses can get while working with Massachusetts companies. Lastly, Raise Up Massachusetts notes that unearned income (from stocks, bonds, and interest income) is mostly taxed at the same rate as earned income from wages.

“These high-income investors should be expected to contribute more to support the public goods on which we all depend. Each percentage point increase from the current rate of 5.0% could generate $400 to $500 million annually,” the organization said in a press release.

State Rep. Nika Elugardo gave a verbal “Yes” to the crowd of demonstrators when asked if she would support these demands. Elugardo, who represents Boston and Brookline, was invited by a constituent and expressed her full support for Raise Up Massachusetts’ cause, saying she thinks of these higher taxes as an investment back into the community.

“[Corporations] put in the smallest investment and they get the biggest out. Our people were exploited. We put in an investment and we got zero back. We got negative back, we got pain, heartache, suffering,” Elugardo told the Banner.

She added that children in public housing, transportation workers, and working-class people deserve a return on their investment. One way, she says, is through the transportation revenue bill. Bill H. 4508 would increase corporate tax rates to fund public transportation projects. The bill passed in the House four months ago but awaits a Senate vote.

“I asked the Senate president why,” Elugardo said, and she remembers the president responding with concern about corporations’ support. “Even if we lose their support, we don’t need corporate support to make a decision to put people before profits,” she said.

The July 15 demonstration was the start of Raise Up Massachusetts’ “Invest in our Recovery” campaign, which will continue in Lynn, Greenfield, Fall River, Framingham, New Bedford and Brockton over the next two weeks.

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