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MA Voters Strongly Oppose Gas Tax Hike

Wednesday, January 09, 2013


Residents of Massachusetts want nothing to do with a gas tax hike. A recent poll found that 83% of Bay State residents would disapprove of the tax and 68% would “strongly disapprove.”

The poll, carried out by Tom Kiley of Campaign for Our Communities, sampled 600 Massachusetts voters from December 12th through the 15th. Of that pool, 83% reported they would disapprove of a proposal to increase the gas tax to 36 cents per gallon as a way to help pay for transportation needs.

“83% is pretty darn high,” said Paul Craney, Executive Director at the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance. “Some people say it’s a fair way to generate revenue, I’d say just look at the ways we’re irresponsibly spending on Beacon Hill.”

Craney says a gas tax hike would be particularly detrimental to the state because it would affect so many.

“We’ve got to do more with what we’ve got before asking people to start paying more,” said Craney.

Legitimate Concerns

Those in favor of a gas tax bump cite the need to generate state revenue and reduce harmful human impact on the environment.

“I do support the gas tax to raise revenue for transportation but also as a way to influence people in terms of global warming,” said Jamie Eldridge, State Senator from the Middlesex and Worcester District.

Eldridge believes raising the gas tax will encourage Massachusetts’ residents to walk or utilize public transportation rather than drive automobiles.

“It’s important to consider that the gas tax also has an impact on behaviors to reduce global warming,” said Eldridge.

However, Eldridge said he would rather pursue other ways to generate revenue first. Before implementing a gas tax hike, Eldridge would like to increase income tax in a progressive way and work towards closing corporate loopholes.

In It For The Long-Haul

While a spike in the gas tax would likely generate revenue for Massachusetts, some are questioning whether the increases represent legitimate long-term solutions. Worcester City Councilor Konstantina Lukes thinks legislators may need to look in other directions.

“For those advocating for a gas tax increase, it may be easier to vote for a band aid solution which preserves the fiscal status quo than to solve the real fiscal and budgetary issues facing the country and the Commonwealth,” said Lukes. “If the tax hike is not voted, are policy makers ready to make the hard decisions and reforms needed to pave the way for economic health and revival?”

Others, like fellow Worcester City Councilor Kathleen Toomey, aren't in favor of a gas tax hike regardless of whether its a short-term or long-term solution.

"A gas tax ends up hurting everyone, especially those who can least afford it," said Toomey.  "Starting from farmers who grow food, to the truckers who take it to the market, to the grocers who bring it to the stores, to the folks who purchase it.  Increasing the gas tax hurts everyone, everywhere."

An Obvious Correlation?

Officials at the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance are quick to compare the 17% of respondents who were in favor of a gas tax increase with the similarly depressed Congress approval rating. A December Gallup poll revealed that 18% of Americans approve of the job that Congress is doing.

Craney warns that politicians should steer away from supporting something that has proven to be unpopular.

“Massachusetts’ elected officials can do two things to instantly watch their approval ratings fall flat,” said Craney. “Vote for an increase to the gas tax or be elected to the United States Congress. Either option is equally as toxic in the eyes of voters.”

If nothing else, Craney argues, politicians should oppose the tax hike as a means of self-preservation.

“If you are an elected official, it probably doesn’t hurt to vote against an increase to the gas tax and be on the side of every four out of five voters,” said Craney. “If you are a member of Congress, even in the Massachusetts delegation, it would be wise to vote against any increase to the gas tax.”


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Stephen Quist

There is absolutely no reason whatsoever to raise the gas taxes.
The Commonwealths taxpayers have paid plenty for the upkeep of our infrastructure.......if the state under both dems/republiCants have been unwilling to live within the means of current tax dollars then all should just pack up and leave Bacon Hill........taxpayers are already bleeding to death a tax hike now would equate to throwing another shovel of dirt on top of the graves the taxpayers are in right now
if the state is unwilling or unable to manage the transportastion system with the generous tax dollars they already receive then time for them ALL to just pack it in

D Stanley

Actually, there is. Big vehicles wear out the roads faster than small vehicles and use more gas. There is no fairer way to collect the money to repair our roads than through a gas tax. Getting the money on April 15th, or borrowing from the Chinese, amounts to a socialistic subsidy for big car owners. If the roads are privatized, they’ll have many expensive toll booths with long lines and your only choice will be to not drive. We all ignore the cost of keeping our infrastructure going at our own peril; we should all be adult enough to be willing to pay our way instead of crumbling into oblivion.

Stephen Quist

The first issue that needs to be addressed before any talk rallies around gas tax increases are those communities in and around Boston that get a free pass on paying for ma pike tolls and other highway tolls........make these residents pay a fair share like the rest of the state and then lets have a discussion.......allowing some to skip toll fares while the rest of the commuters have to pay is no longer tenable

D Stanley

Makes sense. Some things should be pay-as-you-go for everybody, like water sewer and road use. To me, a tax or a toll is the same thing; either pay it all with tolls or pay it all with a tax but lets pay it. there are other ways to check if the money is spent wisely or legally (the press, prosecutors, State police inspectors)

D Stanley

Western mass, where I'm from, gets a toll break. Perhaps it's time to end that too.

Harry Huckum

Q please name the democrats that you believe will go against the speaker if there is a vote on the gas tax.

Please tell me the makeup that you believe is on the board of mass fiscal alliance as far as a ratio of dems vs ( as you say) republicants.

Who owns the over taxation of mass residents? Dems or republicants?

BTW you sound like a tea party extremist talking about being Taxed Enough Already aka TEA.

Stephen Quist

huckster I belong to no political party and of all people you would be the last I would ever have a debate with.....now if you'd like to use your real name and have a discussion I am all for that but I WILL NOT DEBATE A NO-NAME COWARD LIKE YOU......btw lmao go tell the teapartiers I'm one of them lmfao.......they'd all laugh in your face too!

D Stanley

Q and H: Good ideas are good ideas, bad ideas are bad ideas: doesn’t matter what faction (party) they come from. A single person can have both. Extremists on both ends are poisoning the stew, just as George Washington said they would in his fair well address. What I don’t like is that too many people want to “eat and not pay”. Would you like a tax-cut with your war, how about two? We are no longer a nation of adults; we have become 4 year olds in a candy store screaming at mommy for more. Enough: you want it, you pay for it, you don’t want to pay, you don’t get any, simple. But don’t complain if the roads are no good or the water main breaks!

Stephen Quist

D I never supported unfunded wars foisted on Americans by the bush administration.....1 war of necessity and 1 war under false pretenses.....the first time in history our country has not paid for ther wars we were/are involved.....thats plain wrong and irresponsible......tbc

Stephen Quist

cont.....let me just say D I appreciate the debate on the issues.....as far as funding our infrastructure I have 2 points.....the current gas tax was supposed to fund infrastructure maintenance on our roadways and both parties failed - to throw more $$$ at the problem now leaves not one taxpayer confident the money will actually go to where it is supposed to go.......I believe in paying my fair share and paying it forward I just want assurances and guarentees that what I'm paying in taxes is allocated to the needs as advertised by all of our politicians

D Stanley

Q. I agree but we have no choice; they are the constitutional power. All money for this sort of thing must go through them. We must treat them like grandparents treat their grandchildren: each new opportunity to do the right thing must be dealt with on its own merits without regard to past behavior. “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the rest” W. Churchill. One qualification we should look for in an elected official is that they are able to hold down a job outside of the legislature so they don’t hang on to their seats with such desperation.
In spite of what I think is best for the commonwealth, I think eventually the roads will be privatized and heavily tolled by the owners at whatever the market will bear, the public will shriek in horror, the legislature will seize the roads back with their characteristic lack of grace, and the courts will force us to pay damages to the aggrieved entrepreneurs far in excess of what a simple gas tax would have been.

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