State Representative Paul K. Frost (R-Auburn) announces he voted against a more than $600 million tax package the Massachusetts House of Representatives took up on Wednesday, March 4, 2020. The tax bill H.4508 passed with partisan support of 123 to 40. There was bipartisan opposition to the new taxes.
The tax package included raising the motor vehicle gasoline tax by 5 cents to 29 cents per gallon, the diesel fuel tax by 9 cents from 24 cents per gallon to 33 cents per gallon, and will increase taxes on aviation fuel as well. Assessments on ride sharing companies like Uber and Lyft were included, as was raising the minimum tax on businesses. Most of the funds collected will benefit the greater Boston area.
Frost commented, “These taxes will make Massachusetts employers less competitive and will cost jobs. They will hurt employers and will raise costs of good and services to all our residents of the Commonwealth. The increases in the gasoline and diesel fuel taxes will not only impact residents and small businesses, it will also impact our local communities’ municipal and school budgets. The higher fuel taxes will increase costs for all municipal vehicles such as police cruisers, fire trucks, ambulances, DPW trucks and school buses.” Frost continued, “We know the lion’s share of what is raised will go back to inside Route 128, while out here in Central Mass we still need to pay tolls on the Mass Turnpike and now expect to pay higher prices at the pump too.”
According to the Boston Herald, an analysis conducted by the Beacon Hill Institute estimates these proposed increases would result in the loss of 3,000 jobs and $93 million in business investment in just the first year, while depriving Massachusetts residents of $843 million in disposable income and costing the state economy $207 million in lost production.
Frost did cosponsor and vote for a number of amendments which would have exempted communities from paying the higher gas and diesel fuel taxes, called for a study to evaluate the negative impacts to communities before the taxes could be implemented, and sought to keep the existing minimum tax on businesses in place. Unfortunately those amendments were defeated on the House Floor.
The tax bill now moves onto the State Senate for their consideration. Governor Charlie Baker has threatened to veto the bill.