A group of Republican state lawmakers and activists said today they hope to place a measure on the 2014 ballot that would repeal a state law that triggers automatic increases in the gas tax when inflation rises.
The activists described the law, which was recently signed by Governor Deval Patrick, as a “forever tax” since future increases in the tax would not need approval by the Legislature.
“Taxation without representation is not going to stand,” said Representative Geoffrey G. Diehl, a Whitman Republican who was among the two dozen supporters unveiling the ballot effort in front of the State House.
The Patrick administration has argued that linking the gas tax to inflation guarantees that the tax does not lose its purchasing power.
The law that Patrick signed also increases the gas tax by 3 cents a gallon, the cigarette tax by $1 a pack, and boosts taxes on computer services. But the activists said they are only targeting the part of the law that indexes the gas tax to inflation, contending that it represents a particular outrage since it could lead to automatic tax increases.
“This is a slippery slope that we’re on,” said Representative Shaunna O’Connell, a Taunton Republican.
To qualify for the 2014 ballot, the activists will need to gather 68,911 voter signatures by November.
They said they hope to enlist grassroots support from Tea Party groups, anti-tax activists, and members of the Republican State Committee, and do not plan on hiring paid signature-gatherers.
Diehl pointed out that many of those pushing the ballot measure were part of a volunteer drive that helped former US attorney Michael J. Sullivan quickly gather the 10,000 voter signatures he needed to qualify for the Republican primary for US Senate earlier this year.Michael Levenson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @mlevenson.