Local pols reject proposed gas tax hike

BOSTON – Local state representatives are rejecting a proposed gas tax hike.
The proposal was part of a tax package presented by Democratic legislative leaders this week. The package calls for a three-cent increase in gas taxes which would raise $500 million for the state’s transportation system.
The gas tax will be tied to inflation and increased by three cents initially. The cigarette tax will climb another $1 per package, and a new sales tax on computer design services was included, said State Rep. Nicholas Boldyga (R-Southwick).
State Rep. Donald F. Humason (R-Westfield) said he had big problems with the proposal.
“It’s still new taxes – that’s the problem I have with it,” Humason said. “If we can’t find funds for priorities within the budget, it’s not sustainable.”
Gov. Deval Patrick’s $1.9 billion revenue plan included a hike in the state income tax to pay not only for modernizing the state’s transportation system, but also for new education initiatives. The plan proposed by Democrats did not address educational needs.
Humason and his Republican colleagues made a proposal of their own Thursday, which did not include raising taxes. Instead, they suggest using a percentage of new growth for transportation costs. Humason said the state needs to clean up the waste and fraud in the transportation department – and all departments – before he would feel comfortable raising taxes.
Humason said the Republican proposal will show that there is another avenue besides raising taxes.
Patrick’s proposal included an increase in income tax, which Humason and his colleagues also rejected.
“We can’t continue to put the burden on the working people,” said Humason.
Boldyga said the Democratic legislative package “is a step backwards. Leaders are slowly putting new taxes on services in incremental steps.”
At a recent coffee hour with his new constituents in Blandford, Benjamin Downing (D-Pittsfield) expressed that transportation system “needs must be met in an equitable fashion.” He most likely would not support an increase in the gas tax, or a mileage tax, he said.

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