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Pols Seek Higher Corporate, Gas Taxes for Transit

The Massachusetts State House in downtown Boston.

Leaders in the Massachusetts House of Representatives today released a long-awaited proposal to raise additional revenue for the Commonwealth’s roads, bridges, and transit networks.

The draft bill includes a 5-cent increase to the state’s gas tax, from 26.54 cents to 31.54 cents per gallon.

The bill would also establish a tiered minimum corporate income tax, a proposal championed by Raise Up Massachusetts and the Green Justice Coalition. And it would increase fees on Uber and Lyft rides, although not to the extent that Governor Baker had proposed in his own budget proposal.

Legislators estimate that their proposal could add $522 and $612 million more in funding for the state’s transportation systems.

$27 million of that new revenue would be dedicated to the state’s Regional Transit Authorities (RTAs). While the MBTA receives a dedicated portion of the state’s sales tax each year, the RTAs currently can not rely on a similarly dedicated source of state revenue. Carving out a dedicated source of funds for transit agencies outside of the MBTA’s service area had been a high priority for legislators outside of the greater Boston area.

It’s not yet clear whether the House bill will provide a sufficient amount of funding to meet the MBTA’s needs for additional staff and new capital projects.

Earlier this week, the MBTA’s Fiscal and Control Management Board had a long discussion about how current state funding levels would be insufficient to meet the agency’s staffing needs in the next fiscal year.

The T would like to hire more staff to implement safety improvements, gear up for expanded commuter rail services, and implement improvements to its bus network. But based on its current revenue expectations, which included speculative new revenue from increased Uber and Lyft fees, the agency still expects a $93 million shortfall for the next fiscal year, which could put some of its expansion plans in jeopardy.

The Commonwealth’s gas tax hasn’t been increased since 2013, and is significantly lower than gas tax rates in neighboring states like Connecticut (42 cents per gallon), Rhode Island (35 cents), and New York (46 cents).

This story will be updated.



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