Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Our Taxes, Our Roads, Bridges, Trains, and Buses

What does this have to do with Newburyport?

Nothing really unless you:
  • drive the potholes of Routes 495 and 95 or
  • cross the rusty Whittier Bridge or
  • ride the undermarketed and underused Merrimack Valley Regional Transit Authority bus which actually is a viable way to get around Newburyport assuming you knew anything about it or
  • use the woefully inadequate (yet free for all including NH drivers who park their cars for 28 days while escaping the winter via Logan) Park N' Ride or
  • use Commuter Rail jamming your paper parking dollars into a little slot so you can ride an awfully late train into Boston.
I support the whole notion of 'Reform before Revenue'. I think the Governor and Legislature have begun the reform process and you can see the details here. I'm all for merging many independent turfs into one MassTrans, getting rid of ridiculous pension benefits, paying off debt in a responsible way.

I'm also for paying for what needs to be done.

I think an additional 19 cents per gallon is a reasonable way to pay for it. The Globe makes a compelling case here in this editorial. There has been no increase in the gas tax in many many years and the results are evident unless you've been living in a cave. I drive 68 miles back and forth to work each day in a car with 145,000 miles on it, so I will feel the pain in the pump, but that is preferable to feeling the pain in the bumps. (Okay, that's really bad but second cup of coffee hasn't kicked in)

By the way, NH has a proposal on the table for a 15 cent increase phased in over three years. So I guess I won't be driving 10 miles back and forth to Seabrook to load up on that cheap gas because it won't be that cheap.

From the picture painted by the Boston Herald, Barbara Anderson, and some MA Republicans, one would think that NH is a land of free milk and honey. Last time I looked their meals tax was 8%, their property taxes included a local tax AND a state tax, their toll whacks drivers for taking a 15 mile short cut through their state, and their hard alcohol is sold in State stores only. Talk about creeping Socialism!

Currently Fed Gas tax per gallon is 18.4 cents, MA State tax is 23.5 which includes 2 cents for Underground Storage Tank removal statewide, and NH is 19.6 cents. Yeah, we're not much cheaper than NH and if ours goes up 19 cents and theirs goes up 15 cents....well you do the math.

Additional data below from which is I've distilled into Fed and state data. I'd be happy to email you a little Excel Chart I made from the data.

State Fed Gas Tax State Gas Tax
Alabama 18.40 20.20
Alaska 18.40 8.00
Arizona 18.40 19.00
Arkansas 18.40 21.80
California 18.40 45.50
Colorado 18.40 22.00
Connecticut 18.40 44.10
Delaware 18.40 23.00
Dist. of Columbia 18.40 20.00
Florida 18.40 33.20
Georgia 18.40 26.00
Hawaii 18.40 32.60
Idaho 18.40 25.00
Illinois 18.40 39.50
Indiana 18.40 31.70
Iowa 18.40 21.70
Kansas 18.40 25.00
Kentucky 18.40 18.50
Louisiana 18.40 20.00
Maine 18.40 29.10
Maryland 18.40 23.50
Massachusetts 18.40 23.50
Mass Proposed 19 cent 18.40 42.50
Michigan 18.40 36.00
Minnesota 18.40 22.00
Mississippi 18.40 18.80
Missouri 18.40 17.60
Montana 18.40 27.80
Nebraska 18.40 23.90
Nevada 18.40 32.50
New Hampshire 18.40 19.60
NH Proposed 15 cent 18.40 34.50
New Jersey 18.40 14.50
New Mexico 18.40 18.00
New York 18.40 41.20
North Carolina 18.40 30.20
North Dakota 18.40 23.00
Ohio 18.40 28.00
Oklahoma 18.40 17.00
Oregon 18.40 25.00
Pennsylvania 18.40 32.30
Rhode Island 18.40 31.00
South Carolina 18.40 16.80
South Dakota 18.40 24.00
Tennessee 18.40 21.40
Texas 18.40 20.00
Utah 18.40 24.50
Vermont 18.40 20.00
Virginia 18.40 19.60
Washington 18.40 36.00
West Virginia 18.40 31.50
Wisconsin 18.40 32.90
Wyoming 18.40 14.00


Anonymous said...

what about the increased liquor tax, candy tax, soda tax, and the recently proposed increase in both the sales tax and income tax? support those as well?

Ed Cameron said...

No, no, no, partial no, and no.

The partial no: I would support a local OPTION increase of 1% in the meals tax IF it stayed in the community in which it is raised. In other words, if you have a tab of $30 at Park Lunch with the usual 5% meals tax($1.50), add 1% (30 cents) which stays local.

The State keeps its $1.50 to use and we in Newburyport get to use the 30 cents as we see fit. Not that I can wave my magic wand and make this happen alone, but I would codify how the money raised would be spent and have it directed back to the areas from which it was raised: the downtown commercial district and the commercial area of Storey Ave.

According to this source (, a 1% increase would generate over $400,000 annually for Newburyport. If we targeted that revenue to downtown and Storey Ave improvements, marketing Newburyport to day trippers via commuter rail, I bet we'd generate additional business for all Newburport retail and restaurants.

Hey maybe this would be a way to close the NRA dirt lot chapter.

I know the MA Restaurant Association says everyone will go to NH, CT, and RI or communities in MA which choose to NOT raise it by 1%. But, again, even in the land of "Live free or die" (actually the best State motto of all by the way) the meals tax is 8%. I don't think most diners would even notice the difference.