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CLT UPDATE
Thursday, October 26, 2017

"It Tolls for Thee"


Every major highway around Boston would have electronic tolls under a Lynn Democrat’s plan to fill the state’s coffers by dunning drivers.

State Sen. Thomas McGee’s plan — which cites fairness for those North Shore and Metrowest drivers who already are hit with daily tolls — would direct state officials to “implement a comprehensive system of tolling and travel on and within the metropolitan highway system” by the end of next year.

Affected highways would include Interstate 93 as it heads through Boston, Interstate 95 as it circles Boston, Route 1 south of I-95, and Route 2 between Alewife and I-95.

McGee said the tolls would be used to fill a billion-dollar gap in the state’s transit spending — not just for road and bridge maintenance, but for the MBTA, commuter rail and ferry service....

A South Shore Republican — whose constituents don’t currently pay tolls to commute to Boston — cast McGee’s bill as the camel’s nose under the tent.

“This is not going to stop there, and once they’re installed they’ll be there forever, and there’ll be regular increases,” said state Rep. David DeCoste (R-Norwell). “This will never end.”

Mary Connaughton, a former Massachusetts Turnpike Authority board member and director of government transparency for the Pioneer Institute, called the toll plan a “money grab” and criticized pols for pursuing it.

“With massive tolling structures absent, tolls these days seem more like an afterthought — that is, until you get your credit card statement,” Connaughton said. “The public has rejected additional transportation taxes and it’s odd to think that legislators would embrace this concept.”

The Boston Herald
Thursday, October 26, 2017
State senator’s bill paves way for expanded Mass. tolls


Chip Faulkner's CLT Commentary

After-Action Report
by Chip Faulkner

CLT Director of Communications

To CLT activists and supporters:

On October 24 Citizens for Limited Taxation testified before a Joint Committee in the State House for the fifth time since early June. This time it was before the Joint Committee on Transportation.

I appeared to testify against S.1959, a bill to implement new tolls on major highways in greater-Boston, after expanding the “Metropolitan Highway System” to include I-93 (Route 128) and I-95 from Canton north to Woburn, Reading and Wakefield, Route 1 north to Peabody, and Route 2 west to Lexington.

I testified as part of a panel which included Rep. David DeCoste (R-Norwell) — (left in photo below) and Steve Tougas, a Quincy taxpayer-activist — (right in photo below).  Rep. DeCoste, incidentally, is one of the most taxpayer friendly legislators on Beacon Hill.  His most recent CLT taxpayer rating was 100%.  Representative DeCoste went first and was brief and to the point.  Why he asked, are you penalizing Massachusetts drivers who want to see an event in Boston?  You are asking them to shell out even more money in tolls to get to their destination.

I started off my testimony by listing the various ways the state imposes taxes and fees just for the right to drive around the state.  Among them:  Paying a state sales tax on buying a car can amount to over a grand if the car is $20,000 or more, and every time you pump a gallon of gas the state gets 26.54 cents, as well as hitting you up for the auto excise at $25 per thousand.  It used to be $66 per thousand until the reduction to $25 appeared on the 1980 ballot as part of Proposition 2˝ — thanks to CLT.  Of course we can’t forget the auto registration fee, driver’s license fee, and annual inspection fee.

Depending on the value of the vehicle and miles driven annually, the average person could be shelling out anywhere from several hundred to well over a thousand dollars a year in payments to Massachusetts.  My point was to show this committee that adding tolls would only be one more financial burden to bear just for the “privilege” to drive in Massachusetts.

The second part of my testimony was to demonstrate how wasteful Massachusetts spending is for running its highway system.  I relied on a September 2016 policy study from the Reason Foundation, entitled “22nd Annual Highway Report –The Performance of State Highway Systems.”

For example, maintenance costs per state-controlled mile in Massachusetts totaled $78,313 while the national average was $25,996.  Administrative expenses costs per mile was $74,924 in Massachusetts while only $10,051 nationally.

I asked, “Why doesn’t the committee look into these exorbitant costs and unconscionable waste and come up with cost savings?  Then they wouldn’t have to sock the commuters with this plan for expanded and additional tolls.” 

Needless to say, when it came time for questions from the committee, silence was golden.
 

Chip Faulkner
Communications Director


 

The Boston Herald
Thursday, October 26, 2017

State senator’s bill paves way for expanded Mass. tolls
By Dan Atkinson


Every major highway around Boston would have electronic tolls under a Lynn Democrat’s plan to fill the state’s coffers by dunning drivers.

State Sen. Thomas McGee’s plan — which cites fairness for those North Shore and Metrowest drivers who already are hit with daily tolls — would direct state officials to “implement a comprehensive system of tolling and travel on and within the metropolitan highway system” by the end of next year.

Affected highways would include Interstate 93 as it heads through Boston, Interstate 95 as it circles Boston, Route 1 south of I-95, and Route 2 between Alewife and I-95.

McGee said the tolls would be used to fill a billion-dollar gap in the state’s transit spending — not just for road and bridge maintenance, but for the MBTA, commuter rail and ferry service.

The plan does not propose any specific toll amounts but does call for the state to “implement dynamic or peak period pricing aimed at easing congestion and maximizing environmental benefits.”

Currently, drivers into Boston with an E-ZPass have to pay 50 cents coming through the Allston tolls, $1.25 going over the Tobin Bridge and $1.50 going through the Sumner, Callahan and Ted Williams tunnels.

McGee said he did not have any toll figures in mind, but said new tolls would balance the money his constituents pay when driving to Boston while other motorists can travel to and from the city without paying.

“In many ways we are paying our own tax and not seeing the benefits, we need to be fair and equitable about how we toll,” McGee said.

A South Shore Republican — whose constituents don’t currently pay tolls to commute to Boston — cast McGee’s bill as the camel’s nose under the tent.

“This is not going to stop there, and once they’re installed they’ll be there forever, and there’ll be regular increases,” said state Rep. David DeCoste (R-Norwell). “This will never end.”

Mary Connaughton, a former Massachusetts Turnpike Authority board member and director of government transparency for the Pioneer Institute, called the toll plan a “money grab” and criticized pols for pursuing it.

“With massive tolling structures absent, tolls these days seem more like an afterthought — that is, until you get your credit card statement,” Connaughton said. “The public has rejected additional transportation taxes and it’s odd to think that legislators would embrace this concept.”

 

NOTE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml


Citizens for Limited Taxation    PO Box 1147    Marblehead, MA 01945    508-915-3665

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