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Mass. Voters End Automatic Gas Tax

Last week, Massachusetts voters stopped automatic gas tax hikes by voting YES on Question 1, which repealed the legislature’s bill requiring the tax on gasoline to automatically rise with the rate of inflation in Massachusetts.

Supporters of Question 1 were outspent better than 17 to 1, but voters could not be dissuaded from a good idea. Liberty Initiative Fund was the largest single donor in favor of Question 1.

Opposition to the measure came almost entirely from construction companies likely to gain additional state business if the measure was defeated – a NO vote being to uphold the legislature’s enactment. A handful of companies and their related associations raised and spent more than $1.7 million against Question 1.

The election results saw the “Vote Yes” campaign win a 53 percent majority, garnering 1,091,131 votes versus 968,909 votes, 47 percent, against Question 1.

Boston.com: How Your Life Will (or Won’t) Change From the Massachusetts Ballot Question Results

Ballotpedia: Mass. Automatic Gas Tax Increase Repeal, Question 1

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Massachusetts’ Question 1 Questions Automatic Tax Increases

After the Massachusetts Legislature raised the state’s gasoline tax and then passed a law making future tax hikes automatic, tied to cost of living increases, citizens mobilized to gather enough petition signatures to put the issue of the automatic tax increases to a voter referendum on this November’s ballot. The referendum is known as Question 1.

Unless Question 1 passes, whenever the cost of living goes up, the cost of driving your car will go up as well. At a protest against the automatic tax increases, Richard Sourcinelli expressed a popular sentiment, “Let’s raise taxes, they never have an alternative, it’s always let’s just raise taxes.”

Voters should have a say in how and when the gas tax is raised, if at all. Question 1 would eliminate the automatic hikes, requiring a vote in the legislature to increase the tax.

But winning a Yes vote for repealing the gas tax law won’t be easy. CommonWealth Magazine reports that, “The Vote No campaign has raised nearly $1.7 million, far more than the $91,000 raised by the Vote Yes group.”

Why the disparity? The gas taxes collected are slated to go toward road construction and maintenance in the Bay State. And – surprise, surprise – the biggest opponents of Question 1 are construction companies doing business with the state.

“The big supporters of gas tax indexing are the Construction Industries of Massachusetts Advancement Fund of Framingham ($200,000), Suffolk Construction ($100,000), the Utility Contractors Association of New England ($100,000), the Massachusetts Aggregate and Asphalt Pavement Association ($100,000), and Hostetter ($90,000),” the magazine reports.

“The biggest donor to the Vote Yes campaign is the Liberty Initiative Fund of Woodbridge, Virginia,” according to the magazine, noting that LIF is “a group whose stated goal is to hold government accountable, fight crony capitalism, and protect individual liberties.”

WWLP-Channel 22: Locals protest Massachusetts automatic gas tax
Gas taxes automatically increase every year

CommonWealth Magazine:Breaking down big donors to ballot campaigns

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