Governor Baker's road-funding bill, like those of his predecessors, makes the case for a local option gas tax. The Legislature should make it a reality this session.
State Representative William "Smitty" Pignatelli Tuesday addressed his colleagues about his House bill (H 3775) allowing towns to impose a 3-cent per gallon gasoline or diesel surtax. It would be collected at gas stations, remitted to the state, and distributed to the towns for road and bridge repairs. (State House News Service, Eagle, Feb. 24).
As Representative Pignatelli told The Joint Committee on Revenue, the governor's $200 million Chapter 90 budget is as much as $400 million shy of what the Massachusetts Municipal Association estimates towns need to invest in roads and bridges. There are limits to what the state can do, so as Mr. Pignatelli said, "let's give [communities] the tools to raise their own revenue."
The knee-jerk response from the anti-tax Citizens for Limited Taxation was that because towns in the representative's district will react differently to this local option, it will "hurt some of his communities and benefit others." However, if towns are shortsighted enough to decline this option that is their decision, but they should not be allowed to penalize communities that wisely want to employ this beneficial option.
This is a great concept for financially struggling communities and drivers who want better roads. It should be passed into law.