Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Selling An Increase in The Massachusetts Gas Tax Unlikely

Former Mass. Gov. Dukakis, also raised the state Gas Tax - photo: Blog.wire

James Aloisi, Massachusetts Transportation Secretary, attempted to assuage the residents of Western Massachusetts by insisting a 19 cent per gallon increase in the state’s Gas Tax would benefit the region. In an article in the Springfield Republican, Aloisi noted that the tax would be spread “evenly” across all regions, and that those opposing the tax increase should take a harder look, because “A state divided against itself cannot survive” – and there is division on this issue, between the electorate and those on Beacon Hill. State legislators in Western Massachusetts are receiving calls and emails saying “No” to any increase :

Sen. Gale D. Candaras, D-Wilbraham, said she received almost 100 calls and e-mails from people opposing an increase in the gasoline tax of any amount. As of now, she said, she cannot back any increase.

"My district is asking me overwhelmingly to not support even one penny of a gas tax increase," she said.

Additionally, the angst is not restricted to Western Massachusetts, Lawmakers on the east coast are also questioning Patrick’s latest plan. State Senator Susan Fargo (D)is concerned that the tax would create an added burden on the people, and is unlikely to support any increase.

Apparently, this is not merely a state divided, rather a party divided. The backlash against Gov. Duval Patrick’s administration is growing and party faithful, aware that the majority of the state’s electorate is registered as “unenrolled” (no party affiliation),that they stand in danger of losing should the “Democrat Brand” be further tarnished in what has become known as “The People’s Republic of Massachusetts”. From newspaper internet forums, rumors regarding party opposition to the Governor have surfaced, noting that Tim Cahill, the State Treasurer, and Lt. Governor Tim Murry may seek the corner office in an effort to save Party face. Apparently, Murray’s fundraising has increased, giving rise to speculation that he will seek the Governor’s office.

The Governor will face opposition in 2010 from the Massachusetts GOP; several potential candidates have been mentioned including the very popular State Senator, Scott Brown, among others. Should the GOP fully fund this race (among other state races), the face of Massachusetts politics may change. Regardless of party, the message is clear, Massachusetts residents are no longer co placement when it comes to additional tax burdens, and “throw the bum out”, has become a mantra of sorts. The question remains, will the state electorate react the same way the national electorate did in 2008 – pushing any GOP contender or incumbent aside in the name of “Change”. As the Presidents Polls continue to decline having fallen below 60% in less than two months into office (Gallop Daily Tracking - note taken directly before Obama's Address to the Nation), will the dissatisfaction of increased debt and taxation, instead of “middle class tax cuts” (also promised by Patrick), cause these numbers to fall further? Massachusetts may very well be the state to watch in 2010.

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