Massachusetts Millionaire Tax Helps Provide Free Lunch For Public School Students
Massachusetts voted for a constitutional amendment for a new 4% tax on people’s earnings above $1 million in 2022 and now, public school students will receive free lunch, Business Insider reports.
The legislature went into effect at the beginning of 2023, and the next tax will fund $1 billion of the state’s $56.2 billion fiscal budget for 2024. Gov. Maura Healey signed the budget on Aug. 9, making Massachusetts the No. 8 state to adopt a free school lunch plan since the federal free school lunch program expired during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A portion of that $1 billion will serve both breakfast and lunch to students during the new school year if they want it. Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) said this move will change lives. “Free universal school meals will change lives, full stop,” McGovern said, according to CBS News. “No child in Massachusetts will ever have to wonder how to get through the school day on an empty stomach.”
Guaranteeing free lunch for public school students puts a mark on the issue of food insecurity on the rise as inflation is affecting less fortunate families. A study from the Greater Boston Food Bank found that 33% of households in Massachusetts suffered from a lack of food in 2022. After the free lunch program expired, anti-hunger advocates pleaded with lawmakers to expand on school meal programs as data shows hunger is a key factor in a child’s academic performance.
The new tax benefits more than just public school kids. The governor’s office has agreed to pass out $524 million of expected revenue from the new tax on education, including the expansion of childcare accessibility and financial aid for college students, and the rest—approximately $477 million—will be used for transportation, including work on bridges and tunnels.
The new wealth tax argues that some of America’s wealthiest have grown their fortune thanks to tax breaks that generally aren’t available to low- and middle-class families, adding that more taxes on the rich are needed.