Massachusetts Bill Would Create A New Gas Tax

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Gas could become a little more expensive in many Massachusetts communities if a bill filed by one state legislator from the western part of the state becomes law.

The bill seeks to allow cities and towns in the state to charge a local option fuel tax of 3 cents per gallon on gasoline and diesel.

The measure, Massachusetts House Bill 2393 is called “An Act Establishing A Local Option Gas Tax.” It was filed by state Representative Smitty Pignatelli (D-Lenox).

The bill states:


Section 3. (a) A city or town that accepts this chapter shall, prior to the collection of the local excise, establish a Municipal Fuel Excise Transportation and Stormwater Fund. The treasurer of the city or town shall deposit all sums received pursuant to this chapter into the fund. From the fund expenditures shall be made in the following manner: (1) one-third for the purposes of maintenance, repair, upkeep, construction or improvement of roads, bridges, sidewalks, bikeways, public parking areas or roadside drainage; (2) one-third for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority or regional transportation authority serving the city or town, and (3) one-third for projects which promote and improve non-single occupancy motor vehicle transportation, including, but not limited to, pedestrian facilities, bicycle facilities, senior transportation programs, telecommuting programs and carpool programs.


Pignatelli has been pushing this proposal since 2015. He argues it would make it easier for municipalities to improve their infrastructure.

“Several communities throughout our Commonwealth have requested a ‘Home Rule Petition’ to allow them to impose a Local Option Gas Tax,” Pignatelli told NewBostonPost in an email message this week. “The Chapter 90 program, which allocates money each year to every city and town, has a seriously flawed formula, which negatively impacts small rural towns. I have long believed that if the state can’t provide a fair distribution of these monies then we should not stop any community from helping to solve their own problems. A local option would allow them to repair local roads and bridges on their timeline, not the state’s.”

Paul Craney, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance, criticized the proposal. He said lawmakers should ensure that people have more money in their pockets, not less. 

“If the goal is to make Massachusetts more affordable, the last thing any state lawmaker should propose right now is to raise taxes on gasoline,” Craney told NewBostonPost in an email message. “People need more money in their paychecks, not less. A lot of middle-class working people need to travel for their jobs and family commitments. By raising the tax on gas, you are targeting the middle class. When taxpayers complain about how expensive it is to live or operate a business in Massachusetts, we must remember it’s largely due to the mindset of state lawmakers like Rep. Pignatelli, who is proposing a gas tax hike when it makes sense to no one.”

Currently, purchasers of gasoline and diesel in Massachusetts pay an 18.3 cents-per-gallon federal gas tax and a 27.25-cents-per-gallon state gas tax. (The state gas tax has two components:  24 cents per gallon excise tax on gasoline and diesel, plus 3.25 cents per gallon to replace underground gasoline storage tanks.)

That means that for every gallon of gas someone purchases in this state, the person pays 45.55 cents in taxes. However, if this bill became law, that would increase to 48.55 cents per gallon in communities that implemented the increase. 

In the last legislative session, the bill received a favorable report from the Massachusetts Legislature’s Joint Committee on Revenue and was referred to the Committee on House Ways and Means. However, no further action was taken.

No one has filed a state Senate companion bill, even though a bill must pass through both chambers to become law.


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