Proposed Gas Tax Hike Draws Ire

Posted on March 11, 2009 by LCT Staff - Also by this author - About the author

FITCHBURG, Mass. — Small businesses already pay "exorbitant costs" to operate in Massachusetts, and a proposed 19-cent-per-gallon gas tax increase could hurt them even more in a bad economy, said Rebecca Laramee, owner of All Points Limousine in Leominster.

"That's a huge increase for a small business that's just trying to keep five guys on the road," she said recently. "It doesn't make sense. And I can't just pass (the increase) along to my clients because they're struggling, too."

Area officials and business owners said they're opposed to Gov. Deval Patrick's proposal to raise the gas tax by as much as 19 cents per gallon, which he announced earlier this month.

It's going to be a hard sell to get North Central and Western Massachusetts residents to go along with a tax increase to help offset the costs and debts of the state's cash-strapped transportation system, they argued.

If the gas tax passes and goes up by 19 cents per gallon, it would raise the total gas tax — including state and federal taxes — to more than 60 cents per gallon, the highest in the nation.

Patrick said this week the 19-cent figure is flexible but said a tax increase is needed to solve a number of transportation-system problems, adding, "The number alone is not enough; we have to have the series of reforms."

Patrick's plan also calls for restructuring of state transportation agencies, enrolling Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority and the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority in the state's health care plan as a cost-savings measure and cutting 300 positions.

Patrick included 4 cents of the proposed 19-cent increase to roll back proposed Massachusetts Turnpike toll increases, while 6 cents would prevent MBTA fare increases, 1.5 cents would go to "targeted regional road projects" and 3 cents would go toward rail projects outside Boston.

The gas tax has not increased since 1991, Patrick said.

Laramee said fuel is the second-highest expense in running her business after payroll costs. Her chauffeurs drive people to Logan International Airport in Boston, as well as to weddings and other special events, she said. "I can't just go out and increase my revenue."

She added if she raised prices she would lose clients to drivers who may not be insured and licensed as is her company. Laramee said she already pays top prices for insurance, the state's unemployment insurance, and licensure.

Since gas prices are about half what they were last summer, Laramee said she's been able to give her drivers some more hours, but the tax could mean a 14% to 16% increase in her operating costs, she said.

Laramee said she'd rather see Patrick reform the transportation system and make every cost-cutting measure necessary to avoid the tax increase.

"We're still going to be here, plugging our way along," she said. "But that tax is huge. ... He needs to go attack his costs before he tries to make money."

State legislators representing the region said they want to see cost-saving reforms in the state's transportation system before they'd approve a gas tax that high.

Leominster City Councilor at-large John Dombrowski said the gas tax "is a terrible proposal."

"It wasn't thought-out at all, it's ridiculous," he said. "The guys on Beacon Hill have got to get a clue. They have no idea what it's like to work for a living and to raise a family in this climate."

Dombrowski said if gas costs go up a lot, it hits residents in two ways: 1) They have to pay more at the pump; 2) They have to deal with rising "fuel surcharges" tacked on to almost everything they buy.

"There's not a business around here that's not going to be affected," he said.

Raising taxes without overhauling state government is a "knee-jerk reaction" to a deficit everyone saw coming, Dombrowski said, calling for reform of the state pension system and cuts to the transportation agencies.

Source:, Fitchburg, Mass.

View comments or post a comment on this story. (0 Comments)

More News

Uber Appears To Be Losing A Big Case In Europe

Should the TNC be treated as a taxi service subject to the same safety and employment rules?

Drivers File Preemptive Labor Suit Against Uber Chiefs

The suit alleges disgraced ex-CEO Travis Kalanick and co-founder Garrett Camp advised the company to misclassify drivers.

Virginia Operators Fight TNC Bill And Unfair Tax

The Virginia Limousine Association gears up to repeal TNC registration relief and unfair vehicle tax advantage.

Inside Travis Kalanick’s Resignation As Uber’s CEO

At a Chicago hotel, two venture capitalists presented him with a list of demands, including his departure by the end of the day.

Push To Close Long Island TNC Sex Offender Loophole Begins

Uber and Lyft can start operating in Suffolk County on June 29th.

See More News

Facebook Comments ()

Comments (0)

Post a Comment



See More

LCT Store

LCT Magazine - July 2017 $12.95 COVER STORY: * Why These Titans Work So Hard to Give it Away * *


Experience the three annual industry events for networking for business, showcasing vehicles and products, and getting the tools for success.

Read About Your Region

What’s Happening Near You?
Click on any state to see the latest industry news and events in that region.

More From The World's Largest Fleet Publisher

Automotive Fleet

The Car and truck fleet and leasing management magazine

Business Fleet

managing 10-50 company vehicles

Fleet Financials

Executive vehicle management

Government Fleet

managing public sector vehicles & equipment


Work Truck Magazine

The number 1 resource for vocational truck fleets

Metro Magazine

Serving the bus and passenger rail industries for more than a century

Schoolbus Fleet

Serving school transportation professionals in the U.S. and Canada

Please sign in or register to .    Close