YOU WON’T CATCH the team of tax and policy analysts at MassBudget drawing up out-of-bounds plays or a new defense for the Celtics. You can imagine our surprise then to see an NBA player make uninformed statements about tax policy, such as those made by Grant Williams upon his signing with the Dallas Mavericks this week. His comments seemed to suggest taxes on his millionaire income, not the ups and downs of the NBA, were behind his departure from the Bay State.
Likely unwittingly, he became part of a full court press against the Commonwealth’s ability to make critical investments in schools, child care centers, roads, and bridges. Investments supported by the Fair Share surtax, such as expanding college scholarships, child care for disadvantaged kids, and more affordable public transit, make our state more attractive and affordable for the working-class folks who are actually more likely to be leaving Massachusetts. It’s a good thing too, because most of us don’t have $50 million contracts coming our way.
Other prominent athletes, such as those in The Players Coalition, have worked to inform themselves and others to make the connection between adequate and fair taxes and investments in kids such as the Student Opportunity Act K-12 funding plan, which provides support for under-resourced communities every year. This draws on the shared obligation to pay a fair share of taxes and makes our state budget possible. Massachusetts (the third best state for child wellbeing, and tops in education and health care) has little to be envious about in looking at 44th-ranked Texas. Grant’s new home. Texas and other states have suffered through misguided policies at the state level that prioritize tax cuts for the privileged and leave most folks behind through sparse investments, particularly in children.
While hopefully more informed in the future, this need not be the last time Grant Williams speaks out on these issues. We wish him well in Dallas and are thankful for his part in an exciting Celtics playoff run this year. Next time, we hope that he can look at the bigger picture, and perhaps work with allied organizations such as Every Texan, who work to improve health care, education, and food security for Texas families.
All of these goals, by the way, require that Texas, like Massachusetts, reject backward tax policy and ensure those who are doing quite well in the economy pay their fair share like the rest of us.
Colin Jones is a policy analyst at the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center.