Today Massachusetts Senators will take up S.9, legislation that will impose what is effectively a large and regressive tax hike that does the greatest financial harm to low-income households who can least afford inflate energy costs. Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist sent the following letter to Massachusetts lawmakers, urging them to oppose this cash grab that will no benefit the environment, but will harm the poor: 

On behalf of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) and our supporters across Massachusetts, I urge you to reject S.9, legislation that would result in inflated electric bills, higher gas prices, and what is effectively a large regressive tax hike that will negatively affect your constituents. In fact, the negative consequences stemming from enactment of S.9 would be disproportionately borne by low-income families who can least afford unnecessarily inflated energy costs. 

“The last thing you want to do is raise taxes in the middle of a recession because that would just suck up, take more demand out of the economy and put businesses in a further hole,” former President Barack Obama once remarked. Yet that is precisely what enactment of S.9 would effectively lead to. Requiring a higher percentage of electricity to come from wind and solar might make for a nice sound bite, but such mandates in practice result in more expensive electricity bills, imposing tremendous stress on households who are already living paycheck to paycheck. 

S.9 requires utility companies to achieve a 50% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030. As Energy & Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides has noted, “There is a real risk with going beyond 45% that it would be unnecessarily disruptive to the economy and likely extremely costly, particularly for people who can least afford it.”

S.9 also imposes new regulations that will drive up construction costs, thus applying upward pressure on housing prices across Massachusetts. This additional regulatory burden imposed by S.9 will make housing more costly across the commonwealth, doing disproportionate harm to low-income households who can least afford it and who are already struggling to pay the bills. 

Many of your constituents, not just those who earn more than $400,000 annually, are likely to be hit by the passage of federal tax increases later this year. Piling on with state level tax increases would always be a bad idea, but even more so during this pandemic-driven downturn.   

Now is an extremely challenging time to serve in state government and I thank you for your public service. However, it’s also a challenging time to make ends meet for many families across the commonwealth who have been hit hard by the pandemic-driven downturn. The last thing these families need is the large regressive effective tax hike that enactment of S.9 would impose by making it more expensive to keep a house warm or to drive to work. As such I urge you to reject S.9.


Grover G. Norquist


Americans for Tax Reform