Sullivan Files Amicus Brief with MA Supreme Judicial Court on Behalf of the Pioneer Institute and PioneerLegal, LLC

Press Release
April 26, 2022

Boston, MA - Sullivan was pleased to file an amicus curiae brief on behalf of the Pioneer Institute and PioneerLegal, LLC in Anderson v. Attorney Generalpending before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, related to the proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot this November that would impose a graduated income tax in Massachusetts. The brief, which addresses how the Attorney General’s description of the ballot initiative is misleading, describes how the additional revenues received as a result of the tax may not be additive to current spending on education and transportation. 

"The Attorney General must describe a proposed constitutional amendment to the voters and further describe the effect a "yes" and a "no" would have," said Dan Ryan, partner in Sullivan’s Tax Practice. "However, both the description of the proposed amendment and the statement as to the effect of a yes vote mislead the voters. As demonstrated in the brief, there is no assurance whatsoever that passage of the graduated income tax will result in additional funding for transportation and education. The Legislature could easily fund education and transportation at current levels using the proceeds from the additional tax and use the revenue that has gone to fund those areas in the past for something unrelated to education and transportation. That would not violate the terms of the proposed amendment.”

The brief was written by Ryan along with Caroline Kupiec and Jillian Friedmann. The full text of the brief can be found here.


At issue in the case is the proposed constitutional amendment up for vote in the fall that would impose an additional tax of 4 percent on income over $1 million. According to the proposed amendment, the additional revenue will be used for education and transportation. Several taxpayers have sued the Attorney General and the Secretary of State due to deficiencies that will appear in the ballot that describe the amendment itself and the effect of a "yes" vote.

Brief Overview

Our brief demonstrates that while the amendment states that the proceeds from the additional tax will go to education and transportation, there is no assurance that this money will be additive to current spending. Based on past practices of the Legislature, the proceeds from the additional tax could be used to replace current spending, and the Legislature could use revenue previously used for education and transportation for other things. This is true for line item appropriations in the state budget and for capital spending, as well as dedicated funding for things such as the MBTA. The brief also discusses the experience California had with a similar surtax. In California, more than half of the additional revenue received as a result of the surtax replaced, rather than added to current spending. 

Daniel Ryan, Caroline Kupiec and Jillian Friedmann, represent Pioneer. 

About Pioneer Institute
Pioneer Institute develops and communicates dynamic ideas that advance prosperity and a vibrant civic life in Massachusetts and beyond. Success for Pioneer is when the citizens of our state and nation prosper and our society thrives because we enjoy world-class options in education, healthcare, transportation and economic opportunity, and when our government is limited, accountable and transparent. Pioneer believes that America is at its best when our citizenry is well-educated, committed to liberty, personal responsibility, and free enterprise, and both willing and able to test their beliefs based on facts and the free exchange of ideas.

About PioneerLegal, LLC
PioneerLegal is a non-partisan, public interest law firm that defends and promotes educational options, accountable government and economic opportunity across the Northeast. PioneerLegal achieves its mission through legal research, amicus briefs and litigation.

About Sullivan
Sullivan & Worcester (Sullivan) is a leading AmLaw 200 law firm with over 200 attorneys in Boston, London, New York, Tel Aviv and Washington, DC. Sullivan’s clients, including Fortune 500 companies and emerging businesses, rely on Sullivan’s strategic vision, comfort with complexity and intense focus on results. As a global law firm, Sullivan’s reach extends beyond the United States. Sullivan has represented clients around the world and has a deep bench for working on a variety of matters and issues affecting clients globally.

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