Massachusetts Rejects Gas Tax Suspension – The Daily Free Press

The Mobile gas station on Commonwealth Avenue. The Massachusetts Senate denied efforts to suspend gasoline tax collection through Labor Day due to recent gasoline price hikes in a March 24 vote. VISHVAKISHORE VENKATESAN/DFP STAFF

The Massachusetts Senate rejected a Republican-led effort on March 24 to suspend gasoline tax collection through Labor Day, in response to the recent rise in gasoline prices.

Republican Sen. Ryan Fattman proposed the gas tax suspension as an amendment to a $1.6 billion spending bill — which the Massachusetts House passed unanimously — according to the State. House News Service.

State Sen. Michael Moore, a Democrat, said Massachusetts’ fuel tax — which adds an additional 24 cents per gallon for gasoline — is not a sustainable source of revenue.

“I never voted to take it down because it’s needed right now, we need a way to have direct funding to pay for our infrastructure,” Moore said. “I think we need to find another source of revenue that we can spend on our infrastructure.”

The amendment garnered “encouraging” bipartisan support from Republican Senators Fattman, Bruce Tarr and Patrick O’Connor, as well as Moore and other Democratic Senators such as Paul Feeney, Barry Finegold, Anne Gobi, Mark Montigny, Marc Pacheco , Walter Timilty and John. Velis votes yes.

Aside from Fattman, other Republican lawmakers did not respond to requests for comment.

“It was good that we got really strong bipartisan support for the legislation,” said Keath Christensen, Fattman’s chief of staff. “It’s definitely a non-partisan issue and should be bipartisan.”

Senator Pacheco said suspending the gas tax would be a temporary fix.

“It was, in the short term, in the best interest of helping and sending a message to people that we hear them, we care about them, we understand they’re going through a tough time,” Pacheco said. .

Mark Schieldrop – a public affairs specialist with AAA Northeast – said gas prices were hitting numbers “we haven’t seen since 2008” after following President Biden’s order to ban the import of gas. Russian oil.

According to the AAA Northeast, the average gas price in Mass. – $4.36 a gallon on March 11 – fell to $4.18 on April 4.

“There’s no doubt that consumers and motorists are going head to head right now with high gas prices,” Schieldrop said. “This not only affects the cost of refueling your vehicle, but also many of the products we buy.”

Schieldrop said 80% of the goods purchased are transported by trucks running on diesel – a fuel impacted by rising petrol prices – and added that this leads to inflation in the price of other goods.

“There’s something about gasoline that’s really kind of a thermometer for the overall economy,” Schieldrop said. “It’s in our face.”

President Biden has approved the release of one million barrels of oil per day for the next six months, according to March. 31 press release.

“That’s obviously going to have an effect on the price,” Christensen said.

Opposition to the amendment cited its negative impact on bond ratings and how the absence of the gas tax can impact the budget.

“The state is loaded with cash right now, we had a $1.5 billion surplus this fiscal year,” Christensen said. “It’s about putting that money into the resources that need it the most.

Senator Feeney said that despite skyrocketing fuel prices, which he admitted are causing “a lot of economic pain,” he struggled to cope with the amendment to suspend the fuel tax. gasoline.

“I’m not crazy about the policy of long-term suspension of a petrol tax, I think the petrol tax is an important source of revenue for the Commonwealth,” Feeney said.

Feeney also described the long-term goal for the Commonwealth as ending dependence on fuel and oil.

“That’s where we want to get to,” Feeney said. “But the bottom line is that the reality that exists now for people is that they are dependent on their automobile and dependent on refueling at the gas pump.”

Christy J. Olson