New Taxes, Fees, and TCI Are on the Way, Massachusetts [OPINION]
Massachusetts has finished each of the last two fiscal years with budget surpluses topping $1 billion and revenues continue to beat expectations about halfway through the current fiscal year. But get ready, because the legislature is back in town and new taxes and fees are on the agenda.
In addition to a bevy of tax hike proposals such as raising the gas tax by as much as 15 cents per gallon to fund transportation projects, Governor Charlie Baker has enrolled Massachusetts in the Transportation Climate Initiative, or TCI, a multi-state coalition to reduce carbon pollution from the transportation sector by taxing the hell out of people. The plan could tack an additional 17 cents per gallon to the Massachusetts gas tax. The idea is to generate revenue to fix roads and bridges and address public transportation in member states because funds already raised off the backs of the taxpayers for that purpose have been misappropriated.
Eleven states joined the initiative originally but New Hampshire has withdrawn. Gov. Chris Sununu tweeted that he “will not force Granite Staters to pay more for their gas just to subsidize other state's crumbling infrastructure.” Sununu says the TCI would bring little benefit to his and other rural states: “Under this scheme, NH drivers would be forced to pay a significant new gas tax with little environmental benefit to NH. Rural communities would be left at a severe disadvantage if we participated in the TCI, as drivers will bear the brunt of the artificially higher gas prices.”
In short, the folks in New Hampshire don't want to pay for decades of policy failures in Massachusetts and other TCI member states that include Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, and D.C.
Also on the docket this session, proposals to add tolls to roads that currently do not have them, increasing the existing tolls and imposing tolls at the state's borders. Another proposal, according to the State House News Service, would give local communities an option to assess a fee of up to two percent on real estate sales above the statewide median sales price, and a higher fee on certain "speculative" property sales. This would generate local revenue for funding local affordable housing projects.
Government leaders in Massachusetts need to study the failed tax-and-spend policies of other states – New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, and California, just to name a few – that are driving taxpayers away in droves. Higher taxes create fewer opportunities and discourage business development and that means fewer jobs. Spending priorities are way out of whack and need to be re-assessed before any consideration is giving to raising taxes on the working families of Massachusetts.
Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.