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Ballot Question 1: Eliminating Gas Tax Indexing

BOSTON (CBS) – Ballot Question 1 would repeal the part of last year's gasoline tax hike that would adjust the tax annually according to the inflation rate.

Steve Aylward of Watertown led the petition drive to get Question 1 on the ballot. He's fine with the current state gas tax of 24-cents a gallon.

"If you wanted to raise taxes, then take the vote. Don't burden our children with a vote in ten years that you took today," Aylward told WBZ NewsRadio 1030. "That's taxation without representation."

But Michael Widmer, head of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation said that is not accurate.

"This is very common to have an adjustment to reflect increases in cost of living, both for taxes and for benefit," Widmer said.

Mary Maguire of AAA Southern New England said the amount of work that needs to be done requires a reliable revenue stream.

"I think when all of us drive around the Commonwealth, we can see that our roads and bridges are in substandard condition," Maguire told WBZ. "We're already way behind when it comes to funding our infrastructure and we need to catch up."

However, Aylward argues that the money is already there.

"In the past two years, we brought in a surplus of $1.1 billion, so the economic conditions are such that you don't need the money," he said.

Dan O'Connell of the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership thinks otherwise.

"All of these have been underfunded for a long time, and we need a dependable, inflation-proof funding source in order to make the kind of investments we need to grow the economy," O'Connell said.

Aylward agreed that investments are needed, but he also worries that as the tax grows, it will eventually be diverted to other state programs.

"They've done it for other things. Remember the tobacco tax? The state will do whatever they want to do once they get their hands on the money," Aylward argued, "And then they'll cry 'poor mouth' again, which will then make you feel bad because you're not funding their waste."

Voting "yes" on Question 1 would repeal gas tax indexing; voting "no" would mean that starting next year, the gas tax would be adjusted according to inflation.

To read more about Question 1, visit the state elections website.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Lana Jones reports


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