Too much focus on gas tax, when corporations should do more
While the Globe Spotlight Team published a comprehensive investigation of our region’s transportation woes in the fall, subsequent reporting sadly has focused on plans to raise revenue by jacking up the cost of gasoline, disproportionately burdening low- and middle-income wage earners. While funding is needed to renovate and improve our public transportation, roads, and bridges, media coverage (most recently, a Jan. 4 Metro story, “Transportation Climate Initiative may cause gas tax hike”) has discussed the Transportation Climate Initiative and gas taxes, largely ignoring a proposal by Raise Up Massachusetts, a coalition of community groups, religious organizations, and labor unions, to ask corporations to contribute their fair share in exchange for their use of publicly funded transportation infrastructure.
The Globe is invaluable in its contribution to public discourse, but it is narrowing the debate by overlooking Raise Up’s proposal to raise additional revenue by taxing corporate profits moved offshore, as done in other states; adjusting corporate taxes to the size of the corporation; and requiring public disclosure of corporate taxes paid. Reporters should take note of the massive “yellow vest” protests against gas taxes in France, a movement that could have parallels in Massachusetts. All transportation revenue options should be on the table.
Tax focus misses the bigger picture on Transportation Climate Initiative
“Transportation Climate Initiative may cause gas tax hike” is at least the second recent article in the Globe about TCI where the greatest concern seems to be gas taxes. Why not a headline such as “TCI may reduce traffic congestion,” “TCI may help commuters save money with electric vehicles,” or “TCI may reduce asthma, heart attacks, and health care costs”?
Moreover, the article quotes several state officials saying that a gas tax may be necessary not because of the Transportation Climate Initiative but in addition to it, because of the slow rollout of the initiative, its uncertain revenues, and the dire, immediate need to ease traffic congestion and improve transit.
We residents of Massachusetts are actually losing money, not saving it, because of our low gas taxes: We pay in car repairs from bad roads, in slow commutes, in bad health, and in climate change.
Next time, let’s see this headline: “TCI may be even better for Massachusetts residents than the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.”