SUSPEND THE 24-CENTS-PER GALLON GAS TAX UNTIL LABOR DAY

By Bob Katzen

The Senate 11-29, rejected an amendment that would immediately suspend the state’s 24-cents-per gallon until September 5. The measure also requires that the total amount of revenue lost as a result of the suspension be taken out of the General Fund and transferred to the Transportation Fund, where the gas tax currently goes.

All three Republicans voted for the suspension. Eight of the Senate’s 37 Democrats joined the Republicans and voted for the suspension.

“I sponsored this amendment to provide for relief to motorists across the commonwealth,” said Sen. Ryan Fattman (R-Sutton), the sponsor of the amendment. “Hardworking families in Massachusetts need to see relief at the pumps, and it is our legislative responsibility to provide immediate assistance wherever we can. When you amortize 24 cents over the course of 16 gallons of gas per tank, several fill ups per week, over the course of six months to a year, it turns out to be between $600 to $1,200 worth of savings. For many, that’s a mortgage payment, rent, car payments or essential supplies for the family.”

“There is a reason Gov. Baker, the House speaker and Senate president have been focused on other ways to provide relief to residents who are crunched under the impact of inflation,” said Sen. Adam Hinds (D-Pittsfield), the chair of the Revenue Committee. “I am not convinced this step would result in lower prices at the pump given the behavior of oil companies. This is a source of revenue we need for our transportation investments [and the suspension] could negatively impact the state’s bond rating and more.”

“Residents have shown great patience, hard work and determination to carry Massachusetts through the pandemic, and now is the time to reward all Bay Staters for not only keeping our economy afloat, but thriving during these challenging times,” said Sen. Patrick O’Connor (R-Weymouth). “Other states in the nation have suspended their gas tax or have plans to, including some of our New England neighbors. Massachusetts is in a strong financial position to offer this relief at the gas pump and it’s time we act with the urgency needed to get this done.”

“The proposed suspension of the gas tax is a political gimmick that is more likely to benefit oil companies than consumers,” said Senate Ways and Means chair Sen. Mike Rodrigues (D-Westport). “Further, the proposal would negatively impact our bond rating and hinder our ability to finance necessary transportation projects.”

“The Senate is committed to providing real, targeted relief to Massachusetts taxpayers,” continued Rodrigues. “We approved $500 checks for 500,000 essential workers that are in the mail right now. We created child and dependent tax credits that provide $16 million per year to over 85,000 families. And we ensured that COVID relief funds, including $10,200 in unemployment assistance for low-income families, is not subject to income tax. We will continue to provide meaningful support to families across the commonwealth. However, a gas tax suspension is the wrong approach.”

“With the Senate Democrats’ lopsided defeat of a reasonable suspension of the state gas tax, following its secret defeat by the Democrat House supermajority, it’s clear that the multi-billions in revenue surplus—at least in the eyes of most Democrat legislators—belongs to them and them alone,” said Chip Ford, executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. “Obviously now, they have no intention of returning or sharing any part of the revenue bonanza with the taxpayers who provided every cent of the historic surplus, despite the increasing hardships their constituents must endure from record-setting inflation and over-taxation. Voters will remember come November, and surely will be reminded along the way, just who crushed them.”

“When Massachusetts motorists suffer with higher gas prices, they can blame Washington politicians and 29 of their Democratic Massachusetts state senators,” said Paul Craney, spokesman for the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance. “It’s really calloused of these 29 Democratic state senators, who all get paid extra to drive to work, to vote against providing immediate relief for their struggling constituents and small businesses.”

(A “Yes” vote is for the suspension of the gas tax. A “No” vote is against suspension and favors keeping the gas tax in place).

Sen. Patricia Jehlen No

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