A Ballot Question 2024 Update

Date: August 22, 2023


Karen Andreas, President and CEO of the North Shore Chamber has issued the following update on the status of ballot questions filed for the 2024 state election:

Minimum Wage:

Supporters of a minimum wage increase have opted not to pursue a ballot question in 2024.
Raise Up, an alliance of organized labor, community groups and faith-based organizations, had been proposing a ballot question to increase minimum wage from $15 per hour to $20 by 2027.

Instead of a ballot question, Raise Up plans to support legislation filed by state Reps. Tram Nguyen and Daniel Donahue and Sen. Jason Lewis (H 1925 / S 1200).

Those bills would increase the minimum wage $1.25 per year until it reaches $20 in 2027, plus boost the minimum wage for tipped workers to $12 per hour in 2027, and link both to the consumer price index so they continue to automatically grow on with inflation.

Objection to MCAS ballot question
The North Shore Chamber and other leading business groups have joined Pioneer Institute in filing opposition to a proposed ballot initiative that would eliminate MCAS testing as a condition for graduation from a public high school. Pioneer Institute filed its opposition with Attorney General Andrea Campbell because it believes the initiative petition, as drafted, is unconstitutional.

The MCAS measure, petition 23-36, would remove the requirement that a student pass the standardized test in order to graduate from a public high school, and also limits options for local districts to determine student competency. The MCAS measure is backed by the Massachusetts Teachers Association.

Pioneer, together with representatives of the business community, education reform advocates, and supporters of high academic standards, is challenging this petition as not complying with the so-called “relatedness requirements,” which require subjects to be “mutually dependent.”

The opposition memorandum asserts that:

● The petition fails to meet the “related matter” standard under Article 48 of the Massachusetts Constitution by presenting two separate matters. First, the petition seeks to eliminate the existing state-law requirement that students pass the MCAS to graduate; and second, the petition seeks to limit localities to consider only a student’s “satisfactory completion of coursework” in deciding whether the student meets basic state competency standards.

“MCAS is a vital component of the 1993 education reform law,” said Jim Stergios, executive director of the Pioneer Institute, a Boston-based think tank.

“The elimination of the passing of MCAS as a statewide graduation requirement would amount to a huge setback for ensuring that all graduates have acquired basic mastery of subject areas to be college or career ready,” he said. “The Massachusetts Teachers Association goes further in its proposed ballot question, by prohibiting local school districts from choosing to use the MCAS in assessing student competence. At a time when we are investing record amounts of money in our K-12 education system, we should not be taking tools away from local school districts as they seek to ensure that students are actually learning.”

The opposition memorandum was filed with AG Campbell by last week’s deadline. The signatories are:

Christopher Anderson, President, Massachusetts High Technology Council
Karen Andreas, President & CEO, North Shore Chamber of Commerce
Stephen Clark, President & CEO, Massachusetts Restaurant Association
Mary Connaughton, Chief Operating Officer, Pioneer Institute
Michael Contompasis, Superintendent (ret.), Boston Public Schools
Lucile Hicks, Fmr. Massachusetts State Senator, 5th Middlesex District
Jon Hurst, President, Retailers Association of Massachusetts
Edward Lambert Jr., Executive Director, Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education
Pamela Layton, CEO, 4immune Therapeutics
Eileen McAnneny, Senior Fellow in Economic Opportunity, Pioneer Institute
Timothy P. Murray, President & CEO, Worcester Chamber of Commerce
James Peyser, Fmr. Secretary of Education, Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Paul Reville, Fmr. Secretary of Education, Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Francis Keppel, Professor of Practice of Educational Policy and Administration,
Harvard Graduate School of Education
Keri Rodrigues, President, Massachusetts Parents United
James Rooney, President & CEO, Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce
Ray Stata, Fmr. President, Analog Devices
James Stergios, Executive Director, Pioneer Institute
Mary Tamer, President, Massachusetts, Democrats for Education Reform

Altogether, 42 ballot questions were filed by the 5 p.m. deadline Wednesday, proposing 38 laws that could be decided at the 2024 ballot and four Constitutional amendments that could be decided in the 2026 election, according to Campbell’s office.

If Campbell greenlights them, supporters need to collect nearly 75,000 signatures from certified Massachusetts voters by mid-November. Further steps are then needed for the questions to make it on the ballot for the 2024 election.