Massachusetts Voters to Decide Fate of Gas Tax
- Oct 13, 2014 | Gail Cole
Under current law, the gas tax in Massachusetts must be adjusted every year by the percentage change in the Consumer Price Index over the preceding year. On November 4, voters will have the opportunity to repeal that law.
A yes vote on Measure 1 “would eliminate the requirement that the state’s gas tax be adjusted annually based on the Consumer Price Index.” It would also prevent the gas tax from dropping below 21.5 cents per gallon.
A no vote on Measure 1 “would make no change in the laws regarding the gas tax.”
Those in favor of Measure 1 argue that voting yes “simply stops the linkage of the gas tax to inflation” and point out that the current system, which “causes the tax to increase every year without a vote of the Legislature” is “taxation without representation.”
Republican lawmakers in Massachusetts tend to be against indexing the gas tax to inflation (or for Measure 1). In addition, Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform recently visited the state to campaign for the repeal.
Those opposed to Measure 1 argue that it “threatens the safety of you and your family when traveling on Massachusetts’ roads and bridges.” A yes vote would make matters worse “by taking away existing gas tax revenues that we need to solve this public safety crisis.”
Many states now link fuel taxes to inflation or prices, including Massachusetts’ northern neighbor, New Hampshire. According to Matthew Gardner, executive director of the left-leaning Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, “It’s been a very welcome trend in the last few years toward indexing the gas tax for some measure of inflation. A third of the states do it, which is the best possible development for a sustainable gas tax.”
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