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View Diary: Gov. Deval Patrick's bold plan to raise revenue and invest in Massachusetts' future (96 comments)

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  •  Wimped out on fuel (2+ / 0-)
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    Mostel26, dangnewt

    Patrick's plan gets points for progressivity, given that we have a constitutional ban on a progressive income tax.  Raising the rate with a bigger personal exemption is still sort of progressive.

    The sales tax reduction recognizes that online sales aren't taxed, and we lose purchases to New Hampshire.  Amazon had to start collecting sales tax here now that they have a development office; lower sales taxes could attract more such companies.  But earmarking 100% of the sales tax to two purposes is a silly gimmick. Money is fungible, and we have a lot of needs.

    What's sad is that he wimped out again on the gas tax. He floated that a couple of years ago and the legislature didn't go along; that's when the sales tax went from 5 to 6.25 percent.  Since the emphasis this year is on transportation, he should press the issue.  Nobody "wants" more gas taxes -- 83% disapprove in a recent poll -- but nobody wants more of any tax.  Higher taxes on fuel are directly related to road use.  Fuel taxes in Massachusetts are very low.  Not New Jersey low, but way below NY and CT.  On trips to the NY area, I tank up here and often get back before needing fuel.  On trips to or beyond NJ, I tank up there.  This is silly, though -- a 10c hike in gas would still leave us well below NY and CT and nobody would notice it given the volatility in prices.

    30 years ago we heard that low gas taxes were progressive because poor people drove old 1974 gas-guzzling jalopies.  But c'mon, that's over.  People can choose smaller or fuel-efficient cars, new or used; people can often choose to live closer to work, next time they move. Fuel subsidies (the tax doesn't cover the direct cost of roads) encourage wasting energy and driving extra-large vehicles.  Patrick should stand up to the SUV lobby, raise the gax tax, and lower his proposed income tax rate from 6.25 to maybe 5.9%.

    •  tied to inflation (0+ / 0-)

      he's asking for the gas tax to be tied to inflation. It's a start

      •  Should have tied back farther (0+ / 0-)

        It's a start, but it should have been indexed to inflation since the last increase a couple of decades ago, so there'd be a big boost now.  That would have at least provided cover for the increase.  Also, better fuel economy since then means more wear and tear per mile driven, which justifies higher per-gallon rates.

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