TELL US: How Should We Pay for Our Roads, Highways & the MBTA?
Gov. Deval Patrick plans to ask lawmakers to raises taxes to make up for the shortfall in Massachusetts' transportation system. What options should they consider — and what is off the table?
Would you be willing to pay more at the pump, have a tracking system on your car that taxes you by the mile, or see tolls on state highways? Those are just some of the possibilities looming as Massachusetts looks to erase the state's transportation system's deficit.
The Boston Globe reported that Gov. Deval Patrick will ask lawmakers to raise taxes in order to pay for a transportation system—from the MBTA to roads and bridges—that continues to operate in the red. The administration will present a specific proposal by Jan. 7.
One option is raising the gas tax, a route Patrick sought in 2009 only to be rebuffed by the legislature. Patrick sought a 19-cent hike, while business groups endorsed a 25-cent increase. Ultimately, the state Senate voted down two budget amendments, one which would've increase the tax by 19 cents as requested by Patrick and one that would have increased it by a more modest 12 cents.
Massachusetts' gas tax of 21 cents a gallon, unchanged since 1991 except for a 2.5 cent increase imposed to clean up underground contaminants, according to the Globe, ranks 29th in the nation, according to the non-partisan tax research group, The Tax Foundation.
Another option, according to the Globe, is taxing miles driven, which could require tracking devices installed on all cars registered in the state.
WBZ pundit Jon Keller said that the state should "try to spread the pain around" by putting open-road (a.k.a. high-speed) tolling on interstate highways. In a live chat on Patch in September, Patrick asked a reader whether he'd support high-speed tolls in response to a question about toll fairness.
Keller also said the state could require license fees for bicyclists, whom he said have "been the beneficiaries of a lot of recent public spending."
Other options, according to the Globe, include using future casino revenue and transferring MBTA debt to the state's books.
“At this point, everything remains on the table,” state Transportation Secretary Richard A. Davey told the Globe.
Would you support a higher gas tax, high-speed tolls, a tax-by-mile program or licenses for bicyclists? Tell us in the comments which plans you want lawmakers to consider to make up the transportation system's deficit — and which options you consider off the table.