Thursday, March 20, 2008

Time to talk gas tax

The governor's angry response to casino opponents: okay, so what's your big idea?

Governor Patrick, listen up.

Roadway infrastructure in disrepair. (Parker Street bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down.) Massively debt-ridden Turnpike Authority. Even more massively debt-ridden MBTA.

Oh, yeah. There's also a little public policy imperative: global warming.

It's high time we raise the gas tax.

According to a two-year-old editorial by the president of the Conservation Law Foundation, every additional penny of a gas tax would raise $34 million. Fifteen cents would bring us $510 million at current demand. One hopes that the increase might decrease demand. Even so, we're talking hundreds of millions.

The total Massachusetts gas tax is now $.21. Add fifteen cents and it would be $.36, not out-of-line with our neighbors Rhode Island ($.31), New York ($.303), or Connecticut ($.297). For reference: Maine ($.23), New Hampshire ($.206), and Vermont ($.20). (Recycled this from a comment I made on the TAB blog.)

Wait, you say, how can I propose raising the price of gas when prices are at an all-time high? Because they really aren't. Inflation-adjusted, prices are not out-of-line with the early 80s. And, cars are more efficient, so we're actually spending less on gas.

One way or the other, we're going to have to foot the bill to keep our roadways in decent condition. Let's charge the users.

1 comment:

Dan Kennedy said...

Yes. And a cigarette tax. And (gasp!) some spending cuts.