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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

And this would surprise you how?

House Speaker Sal DiMasi likes the idea of a gasoline tax as being fairer than the massive toll hikes approved by the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority.

Now there's a surprise.

My only quarrel with Barbara Anderson and the anti-tax army is that I really don't think the Turnpike Authority is smart enough or strategic enough to really have plotted this in some dark corner. Their decision was just another in a long series of missteps.

And I certainly don't agree with them when it comes to the basic issue. I've been beating that horse for years now. A massive toll increase on people who use the Big Dig the least -- MetroWest commuters -- is grossly unfair. And doubling the tunnel tolls spreads the insult to the north while leaving the south off the hook.

No one likes higher taxes -- and there is merit to the argument that you don't raise them in a recession.

But the gas tax is in large measure a user fee (and Mitt Romney would not doubt argue) because you don't pay it if you don't buy gas. If you do, a higher tax is a much fairer way to spread the cost of the construction, repair and maintenance of all roads and bridges.

And you may recall Massachusetts has a rather extensive need for maintenance and repair.

A gas tax at $2 a gallon is also a lot easier to swallow than at $4. Let's hope lawmakers do the right thing this time.

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