Fuel tax boost sought in Massachusetts in return for toll elimination

| 2/5/2007

The Massachusetts Turnpike Authority is touting the benefits of boosting the state's fuel tax as a way to help offset the loss of revenue from eliminating all tolls on the turnpike. One state lawmaker has even filed legislation to increase the per-gallon tax rate.

Turnpike directors Thomas Trimarco and Mary Connaughton said increasing the state's 21-cent-per-gallon tax on gas and diesel would be an avenue for the state to afford stripping tolls from the entire length of the route.

Connaughton told The Associated Press that increasing the fuel tax is a fair way to spread the cost of eliminating tolls statewide - not just west of Route 128.

With that in mind, Sen. Karen Spilka, D-Ashland, has filed a bill that would increase the state's fuel tax by 9 cents per-gallon during the next three years. The revenue would be routed into a fund dedicated to eliminating tolls on the turnpike.

Talk about a potential fuel tax increase has gone over like a led balloon for Gov. Deval Patrick. The governor has said the state has a $1 billion deficit in the next fiscal year and can't afford the loss of revenue.

"I don't have any plans to raise the (fuel) tax," Patrick told the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.