Tax to Travel: How Would You Pay for Mass' Transportation System?

Gov. Deval Patrick plans to ask lawmakers to raises taxes to make up for the shortfall in Massachusetts' transportation system. What options should they consider and what's off the table?

Would you be willing to pay more at the pump, have a tracking system on your car that taxes you by the mile, or see tolls on state highways? Those are just some of the possibilities looming as Massachusetts looks to erase the state's transportation system's deficit.

The Boston Globe reported that Gov. Deval Patrick will ask lawmakers to raise taxes in order to pay for a transportation system—from the MBTA to roads and bridges—that continues to operate in the red. The administration will present a specific proposal by Jan. 7.

One option is raising the gas tax, a route Patrick sought in 2009 only to be rebuffed by the legislature. Patrick sought a 19 cent increase while business groups endorsed a 25 cent increase. Ultimately, the state Senate voted down two budget amendments, one which would've increase the tax by 19 cents as requested by Patrick and one that would have increased it by a more modest 12 cents.

Massachusetts' gas tax of 21 cents a gallon, unchanged since 1991 except for a 2.5 cent increase imposed to clean up underground contaminants according to the Globe, ranks 29th in the nation according non-partisan tax research group The Tax Foundation.

Another option according to the Globe is taxing miles driven, which could require tracking devices installed on all registered cars in the state.

WBZ pundit Jon Keller said that the state should "try to spread the pain around" by putting open-road (a.k.a. high-speed) tolling on interstate highways. In a live chat on Patch in September, Patrick asked a reader whether he'd support high-speed tolls in response to a question about toll fairness.

Keller also said the state could require license fees for bicyclists, whom he said have "been the beneficiaries of a lot of recent public spending."

Other options, according to the Globe, include using future casino revenue and transferring MBTA debt to the state's books.

“At this point, everything remains on the table,” state Transportation Secretary Richard A. Davey told the Globe.

Would you support a higher gas tax, high-speed tolls, a tax-by-mile program or licenses for bicyclists? Tell us in the comments which plans you'd consider to make up the transportation system's deficit and which options you consider off the table.

Karl Weld November 27, 2012 at 10:05 PM
How about continuing an old war? Like the War on Poverty, which we've sunk over $16 trillion in since 1965 and have not reduced the poverty rate at all. Can we end that war too? Or should we just keep pouring money that we don't have down that hole?
Karl Ian Sagal November 27, 2012 at 10:55 PM
What is a house of Representatives Defit? I saw some making $90,000.00. And there are more of them than representatives.
Karl Ian Sagal November 27, 2012 at 11:20 PM
SomervilleGirl, You want to raise taxes, and make people pay their fair share, but you won't put a quarter in the meter, or get your car inspected, and then complain about it. Maybe you should pay your fair share first?
Dan D. November 27, 2012 at 11:37 PM
Wars did not break any budget. The cost of the wars was much less than the cost of the expanded non-defense budgets brought about by Bush and exponentially grown by Obama.
Dan D. November 27, 2012 at 11:50 PM
An interesting analysis of the best to worst run states. MA comes in at 19: 19. Massachusetts > Debt per capita: $11,310 (the highest) > Budget deficit: 8.6% (42nd largest) > Unemployment: 7.4% (tied-18th lowest) > Median household income: $62,859 (5th highest) > Pct. below poverty line: 11.6% (9th lowest) Relative to its income, there is no state that overspends more than Massachusetts. In fiscal year 2010, state revenue was $50.4 billion, the 11th-highest in the country, while state debt was $73.9 billion, the third-highest in the country. That debt to revenue ratio of nearly 1.5 to 1 was by far the worst in the U.S. State debt per resident was more than $11,000, the highest in the nation. The state’s high debt comes from its spending on social programs. Total state expenditure per capita in 2010 was $7,900 per person, which was among the highest in the nation. Thanks to Massachusetts’ largely mandated health care system, introduced by former Governor Mitt Romney, just 4.3% of state residents were without health insurance coverage, the lowest in the nation. Read more: The Best and Worst Run States in America: A Survey of All 50 - 24/7 Wall St. http://247wallst.com/2012/11/27/the-best-and-worst-run-states-in-america-a-survey-of-all-50/#ixzz2DTCh72jz
SomervilleGirl November 28, 2012 at 12:26 AM
Karl, In response to your earlier comment: "You want to raise taxes, and make people pay their fair share, but you won't put a quarter in the meter, or get your car inspected, and then complain about it. Maybe you should pay your fair share first?" I explained both situations in detail--There was a witnessed who saw me put the quarter in the meter. She happened to be leaving a convenient store with her two children. When I added a quarter to my meter, it had 7 minutes remaining, after my quarter, I had 22 minutes to be precise. I ran into the dry cleaners to drop off some clothes and was in there for less than 5 minutes. When I came out, the woman told me I had a ticket before I reached my car and said she watched me put the quarter in the meter. She asked me to check the meter number on the ticket and it did not match the meter which I was parked at so I know the meter attendant made a mistake. He was about a block away and tried to talk to him and he lashed out and said the call came from the parking office. This was North Cambridge. I told him I was calling his supervisor which I did and told her I had a witness, explained where I was parked, where the meter was located and she suggested I could have not been at the right meter, which was incorrect--this block has about 5 meters, a hydrant and one last meter. The hydrant was at the rear of my car so I know I was at the second to last meter. No way it was the wrong meter. She issued me a "0" statement in the mail.
SomervilleGirl November 28, 2012 at 12:43 AM
Karl, Second situation: Inspection sticker--it was 3 days late, my error. It was a Friday night, my mechanic was still on duty. I asked to keep my car overnight so I wouldn't get more tickets. On Monday, I paid the ticket. This was Somerville. A friend of mine who happens to be MSP said, "That is a moving violation which is not suppose to be handled by municipalities traffic & parking office--it is the state that is suppose to get the money for this fine". So, maybe you should call the state police and ask them yourself. There have been other issues with regard to tickets in Somerville. I think Cambridge is now catching on--like they need the money. My issue is this--if there is a legitimate fine, I do not have a problem paying for it. But when the parking attendants are scamming motorists because they have to fill their quota or supposedly "keep their jobs", as in my incidents with the inspectional services department--that is in violation of their duty to collect fines. I have already spoken about these problems to officials. I have been told that it shouldn't have been done this way, but if people don't complain, nothing will change. Another ticket was during a snow emergency--we had NO SNOW. Son was going to a Red Sox game w/friends. The meter attendant gave every one of them a ticket while they were moving their vehicles into our driveway. My son tried to talk to her and she said "sorry, go appeal it". Appealing does nothing, they add another charge.
Karl Ian Sagal November 28, 2012 at 12:51 AM
No they are not the same as previous immigrants. Previous ones were not elegible for welfare, in state tuition, free health care at emergency rooms, and had to be sponsored, and demonstrate a skill or trade. Not so today.
Karl Ian Sagal November 28, 2012 at 12:53 AM
Here I almost agree. Those who hire illegal immigrants should be arrested and do time in jail. But what about those who have fraud id? There needs to be a reasonable way for an employer to be able to know if a person is legal to work or not. You mentioned you have family that owns businesses like this. Do they pay all these taxes, issue insurance, and hire illegals?
Karl Ian Sagal November 28, 2012 at 12:59 AM
Having an immigrant or migrant worker program is not the same as having illegal imigrants. Worker programs, and a way to register them at the border is the answer, not making believe that it does not exist, or simply pointing fingers as you like to do. They need not be sent home. They need to be registered, and accounted for. That too is not citizenship. Most every country on the planet, including ours, has an immigrant worker program. What we need are people on both sides of the isle to engage and make the systems work. Neither the Ds nor the Rs made this, they both did, and finger pointing does not solve anything at all.
Karl Ian Sagal November 28, 2012 at 01:07 AM
A volvo is not an american car, no matter who drives it.
Karl Ian Sagal November 28, 2012 at 01:17 AM
We should be encouraging alternate transportation, like bikes, not trying to snag more money, taxes and fees from them. If you want more of it, then do not tax it. If you want more people to use public transportation, then make it work, be more cost effective and advantagous to use. Don't make it bloated, dirty, dangerous, and more expensive and inconvenient. Simple rules that make sense. Giving more tax money to the current system that is already broke is not a solution to anything. This state and the federal government are not lacking enough tax dollars, they are lacking a workable process and oversight. It is not about too little money coming in, it is about too much being spent and wasted.
SomervilleGirl November 28, 2012 at 01:22 AM
Karl-- your comment: "...not the same as previous immigrants..not elegible for welfare, in state tuition, free health care at emergency rooms, and had to be sponsored..demonstrate a skill or trade." My parents were immigrants of N.Italy. Dad came over during the depression when his family was starving in WWII. Mom arrived in the 50's. THERE WERE JOBS...HELLO, that is the difference..in old days, they would find work....dad a chef at Parker House. Mom worked in housekeeping at a college for over 25 yrs, was not a citizen for many yrs, then became one. It did not matter back then, because THERE WERE JOBS! Ever since Bush started slashing U.S.jobs--to "outsourcing", people were forced to rely heavily on credit cards, home equity, kids in college, retirement fund not enough, cost of living skyrockets, millions without healthcare, hospitals take their homes. I swear, it sounds like some of you people have been living under a rock. Don't you get it? They have intentionally created civil unrest because no one is watching what they do--you are all so busy blaming the wrong people--watching the welfare mothers who are trying to feed their kids--not all scam artists. Education & opportunities LACK for many of these families-Immigration issues are complicated-Explain this- if an undocumented person opens a checking acct, but an American has to get fingerprinted to cash a check of person/business which holds acct. at bank, with proper ID--what's wrong with this picture?
SomervilleGirl November 28, 2012 at 01:40 AM
Karl--In response...."Those who hire illegal immigrants should be arrested.. do time in jail....There needs to be a reasonable way for an employer to be able to know if a person is legal to work or not. You mentioned you have family that owns businesses like this. Do they pay all these taxes, issue insurance, and hire illegals"? My family does not hire undocumented persons. Yes, they pay taxes, etc. don't risk liabilities. There are now heavy fines being implemented if an employer is CAUGHT (key word here) hiring undocumented persons. Yes, there are ways they can check if a person is undocumented, but they choose not to, can you guess why? There are about 100 reasons and all of them have to do with the exploitation of a human being and PROFITS. Someone I know, licensed for his trade, works for contractors who hire undocumented workers. I have heard the stories he doesn't like the way these people get treated. They are people just like the rest of us, but because others do not understand their culture, it does not make them less human. It's govts that can be bad, not the people of the countries. If you talk with some of the immigrants, you can learn a lot about what they go through trying to stay in this country. I'm not condoning those who commit crimes, there are many who don't, but have no choice but to remain caught up in a system that has no right way of making it work for everyone. That's how they get away with it--they create CIVIL UNREST among all people.
SomervilleGirl November 28, 2012 at 01:53 AM
Karl, When did I ever say that a Volvo was an American Car? That is the reason I am driving it--because it's not the junk produced by the American Auto Industry. You know those CEO's who went crying down to DC asking for bailouts. You remember it don't you? Here, I will refresh your memory-- By the way, it wasn't bad enough they sank their businesses into the gutter, but they laid off millions while taking their corporate jets at $20k for fuel to get there. Like the first class wasn't enough? Germany makes a far superb vehicle and it's 2000, not the crappy Ford version in their new models. I will continue to buy foreign and older models because they were built to last, not built to break so we can milk you for the next 10 years! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3WKUO6pGqIk
Amber November 28, 2012 at 01:55 AM
Um, we already HAVE Obamacare in Massachusetts. It's called Romneycare. :)
Amber November 28, 2012 at 02:00 AM
Again, we already HAVE this in Massachusetts, and it was the Republican who gave it to us. Businesses regularly kept employees at part-time intentionally to deny them benefits, I'm not sure how this changes anything at all. Walmart and other retailers have been guilty of this since I was 17 and working for KMart as a cashier.
SomervilleGirl November 28, 2012 at 02:06 AM
Karl, How about those corporate jets? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BsNcBMxHt00&feature=related
SomervilleGirl November 28, 2012 at 02:46 AM
Here's another one, Karl..... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-RQfoW1lZs Just for the record: first car, escort, second car blazer, third, yukon, fourth, saab, most recent volvo 2000'. All but last two were not good vehicles--sure, parts are cheaper, but so IS the vehicle. After watching these videos of grilling by congress and closer inspection of the top heavy corp's ceo's and their main objective...it's very clear, they continued to make cars which were non-competitive to our foreign trade--as well as not making them by standards of "going green", reducing emissions. There are millions of Americans who drive Honda/Toyota's, there are obvious reasons. There should also be apparent reasons as to why the American Auto Industry has been sticking by their gas hogs. Can you guess why this is, or would you like me to explain it. Watch, "Who killed the electric car?". There is another clue.
Karl Ian Sagal November 28, 2012 at 04:41 AM
I was kind of surprised it took you so long to blame Bush. "Cost of living skyrockets"... Interesting phrase. I suppose the cost of living did not increase during Carter. I had forgotten that Bush had caused all these problems...
Karl Ian Sagal November 28, 2012 at 04:54 AM
When did you say your Volvo was an American car? At 8:35 on Sunday the 25th. "mine is a Volvo and by far it's been the best of all American cars I've driven," is a direct cut an paste. I did own a few european cars when I was in the army stationed in Germany, but all the time that I have lived in the United States, (I was born in Connecticut over 50 years ago) I have owned and driven American name plated cars. A couple years ago, I bought my first non-American name plated car. It happens to be a 1999 Volvo C-70 convertible. I still have it and really like it. I sold my 1986 Mustang with 195,000 miles on it. The Volvo has 220,000 currently. So, at this point, it has the most miles that I have owned. Because of my ownership of this car, I happened to take note of your posting. I do agree that Government Motors Corporation does not make a car that is worth owning, at least to me. I also agree that the federal government who stole GM from the bond holders who owned it, and gave it to the unions who ruined it was a travesty. For that reason alone, I will not own a car from them again. You did mention Ford. I do not think they took bail out money. Not everyone is the same, or should be painted with the broad brush.
SomervilleGirl November 28, 2012 at 06:24 AM
Meant, I prefer my Volvo to Any American Made Car. Reading comprehension, I thought that was clear the way I wrote it. Someone's father once worked with Ford, he held the keys to the treasury. Do you know who might be? Same guy who bailed out his buddies firm. Goodnight
SomervilleGirl November 28, 2012 at 06:32 AM
....as well as a TRUE TAX EVADER.
Bob November 28, 2012 at 02:26 PM
Bridget, WW II ended the great depression and gave us the largest economic growth period to that time. No matter what the Democrats say, FDR and his policies at home were complete failures. Look at 1937 and 1938 when FDR won his second term and put his economic policies in place. They actually made the small recovery slow down and reverse it self and shrink. Obama has said he will do the same type of things, spend, spend, spend on infrastructure which is our tax money. When it is a bad economy there is less tax dollars which means you need to borrow what you spend. It is a viscous circle that can't work until an outside influence changes the dynamic like a World War.
david mokal November 28, 2012 at 02:33 PM
American's love power behind the wheel. There isnt nothing like having a Ford Mustang,Dodge Charger or any other of the American built cars. In the 60's and seventies you never seen the American Public driving trucks. In 74 when they killed the horse power Chrysler came out with 2 sport trucks that were built for speed.Now all you see is the American Public driving Trucks and SUV's. Why? Because we crave power and speed. My Ford Truck is 16 years old and still runs great. My Dodge lasted me 12 years still runnin till the frame wrotted out from under me. The Europeans crave our Autos. The USA sells many to even China who craves our Cadilacs. The best cars are Made in America. Buy American !!
Gene Pinkham November 28, 2012 at 02:56 PM
By what authority can Bush or any other president outsource private sector jobs? This is a canard.
saul glick November 28, 2012 at 03:12 PM
I had to look up the word "canard".
ron johnson November 28, 2012 at 03:50 PM
SomervilleGirl,just admit it, you made a mistake typing. Also, if you are talking about Romney's father he was head of American Motors, not Ford. I would also say our Senior Senator is a known tax evader, but I guess this is okay because he is a democrat. Also, I think is is funny that you applaud Obama for bailing out GM, but think their cars are crap.
Bob November 28, 2012 at 05:14 PM
Combined $1.4 Trillion dollars over 10 years. US Debt today $16+ Trillion dollars! Annual deficit during Obama admin's first 4 years $1.6 Trillion. How much did that cost Massachusetts?
Emmanuel D. November 29, 2012 at 03:42 PM
Licenses for bicyclists.


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