Massachusetts lawmakers push fuel bill: Little success expected

| 3/28/2003

Massachusetts’ lawmakers discussed a 10-cent-a-gallon hike in fuel taxes last week as a way to pump millions into cash-strapped state coffers, the Boston Herald reported.

Legislative leaders, however, said it’s doubtful that a nearly 50 percent increase in the state fuel tax would pass this year, especially as prices at the pump remain at record levels.

Proposed by state Rep. Angelo Scaccia, D-Boston, HB469 was discussed at a joint taxation committee hearing March 18. The measure would raise the state’s fuel tax from 21 cents a gallon to 31 cents a gallon.

Rep. Paul Casey, co-chair of the taxation committee, told the newspaper Scaccia’s bill would generate at least another $200 million in state revenue. While most fuel taxes fund transportation programs, Casey said HB469 would give the extra revenue to the state’s general fund to help offset a looming $3 billion budget gap in fiscal 2004.

Casey said persistent lawmakers could keep a fuel tax hike proposal alive, but he said it was unlikely to pass this year.

“Every poll indicates that’s the tax everybody gets infuriated at,” Casey, D-Winchester, told the Herald. “For the amount of calls and … public angst that it raises, you get a very small return.”

The tax panel also heard testimony about HB279, which would cut the tax by 10 cents. Casey said that proposal stood little chance for success, either.