To the Editor,
The State Senate passed a transportation spending bill that had a provision that allows local communities to form municipal and regional “ballot initiatives” that will completely bypass Proposition 2 ½ protections. These newly formed districts would allow cities and towns to come together to increase the sales, property, room occupancy, or vehicle excise tax with absolutely no regard for Prop 2 ½. Imagine clusters of towns and cities, often run by big government politicians, imposing regional tax increases, leaving the taxpayers for decades to pay into these new tax schemes.
Massachusetts needs to spend more of our transportation dollars on maintaining our roads. But this is not the way to do it.
I oppose any scheme that would weaken Proposition 2 1/2, or create unelected and unaccountable regional government. Regional authorities continually have huge annual operating deficits. Why should we have to increase and rely on local option taxes to fix our roads when Massachusetts’s drivers already pay large amounts of money in fuel taxes, tolls, fines, vehicle registry fees, license renewals and sales tax on vehicles?
The Registry of Motor Vehicles takes in about 600 million dollars a year, for an operation that costs 60 million to operate. Why isn’t some of the 540 million dollars going back to cities and towns in the form of Chapter 90 funds?
I am disappointed that Sen. Velis did not support an amendment that would have struck Senator Lesser’s provision to allow municipal and regional ballot initiatives that would bypass Prop 2 ½, which has protected taxpayers from excessive taxation. I urge Sen. Velis to vote against this bill if it comes out of committee before July 31.
The state just passed a 17 billion dollar transportation bond bill, but only allocates 200 million dollars per year, for the entire state for regular road maintenance. That figure should be 4 to 5 hundred million dollars each year. That is a big reason why our roads are not being maintained.
I have placed a question on Westfield’s ballot in November asking the state to increase Chapter 90 funding to at least 300 million dollars per year.
I ask that other drivers who are tired of paying for services that we either do not use or receive, support more of our transportation dollars go to maintaining our roads.
Concerned citizens, please take a minute and go to https://www.votervoice.net/MASSFISCAL/Campaigns/76144/Respond to tell your legislators to reach out to their colleagues on the conference committee and ask them not to advance this tax scheme. Prop 2 ½ must be protected. Once you are done, please post a link to this Call to Action to your social media pages.