So now its post election and the Governor comes out with his need for revenue to address multiple issues from infrastructure to equity for Mass’s brick and mortar stores. The right rails against any and all taxes while the left sees the need to support much needed services across the board especially when they can tax the rich. Let’s ignore the revenues the Governor is going after today for a multitude of services or parity for beleaguered brick and mortar stores who are becoming the nets showrooms.
Let’s talk infrastructure and specifically transportation. The Globe story http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/2012/11/16/patrick-poised-call-for-transportation-tax-hike/2CB3FzdX60Jxs0hGW2FVXL/story.html
on November 16th cited a number of issues:
The gas tax has remained 21 cents a gallon since 1991, except for a 2.5 cent increase imposed to clean up underground contaminants. That means it has lost buying power against inflation and as cars have become more efficient, even as costs such as fuel, asphalt, and employee health insurance have soared. The state sales tax, the T’s largest funding source, has fallen short of projections through multiple recessions and as consumers sidestepped taxes online.
The Patrick administration, which tried unsuccessfully to raise the gas tax in 2009, signaled earlier this year that it may revisit that tax. Other options include taxing miles driven, tapping future casino revenue, and transferring MBTA debt to the state’s books.
While the administration refines that plan, a new poll of 1,500 residents from the Berkshires to the Cape shows 62 percent are willing to spend $50 or more in additional taxes to bolster transportation. The poll also found that residents far beyond Boston value transit as well as road investment.
But the MassINC poll revealed that 71 percent believe the transportation red ink is a result of “waste and mismanagement,” not insufficient funding — a belief at odds with conclusions of an array of analysts, activists, and policy makers.
The problem everyone complains about potholes and disrepair of roads bridges and tunnels and the service on buses, transit or trains but does anyone want to pay their fair share of use for these services? The answer is no. Everyone thinks that once you build it will last forever and no one wants to pay to maintain, improve or expand transportation as needs change over time. Twenty years ago we travelled less and travelled in less efficient vehicles while paying 21 cents per gallon for state vehicle fuel taxes. The problem is, is that we travel more on much more efficient vehicle and haven’t raised the tax in 20 years and the same goes for the feds. So guess what, fuel tax revenues are down while transportation maintenance costs are way up with over 20 years of inflation.
The gas tax is one tax I don’t mind paying as most of it does go to transportation needs; it’s not really a tax as it’s a user fee to have roads to travel on. Well it’s time to pay up; raise the ‘tax” and index it to inflation so we don’t continue to underfund transportation. That also goes for highway tolls, on complex (tunnels, bridge like Tobin) highway infrastructure that cost much more per mile to maintain, to ensure the users are paying for the services they use.
Everyone wants a free ride; well the ride isn’t free and everyone that uses it must pay their share.