Senate amendment would tax Massachusetts drivers on mileage

Connecticut is testing a similar program

BOSTON (WWLP) – Governor Charlie Baker said on Friday he opposes a Senate amendment that would require Massachusetts to apply for federal money to test out a new “Distance Driven Tax.”

State Representative John Velis of Westfield asked the Governor to use his “line item veto.” The amendment to a road improvement bill would require an application for federal funding to research a tax on drivers based on the number of miles they traveled.

In a letter to the Governor, Representative Velis said, “This mileage tax would unfairly burden citizens in western Massachusetts and elsewhere in the Commonwealth.”

Jake Cote-Babineau of Springfield told 22News, “Depending on the mileage that you’re putting on the vehicle a year, if someone’s putting on 10,000 miles a year, someone else could be putting on 35,000 to 40,000 miles a year.”

Connecticut is testing a similar program, as are California and Oregon. A federally funded research project would include 500 volunteer participants.

Below is Representative Velis entire letter to Governor Baker:

I am writing you today in regards to the impending passage of House bill 4557, An Act providing for the financing of certain improvements to municipal roads and bridges. It has come to my attention that, through recent amendments in the Senate, a provision has been added to this legislation that would require the Commonwealth to apply for federal funding. This funding would be used to research the implementation of a vehicle miles traveled pilot program. This program would tax Massachusetts drivers based on the number of miles they travel.

This mileage tax would unfairly burden citizens in Western Massachusetts and elsewhere in the Commonwealth. In the Western part of our state, citizens often travel much farther for work and daily activities. Public transportation is not as readily accessible as it may be for those commuting in and around the Boston area and in some cases is nonexistent. Western Massachusetts would be the unintended, automatic collateral damage of this new tax.

The long arm of government, with it’s hand in the taxpayers’ pockets, must be recognized in this instance as inherently destructive to the economic well-being of the citizens. Taxation, at times, must be kept in check as its resultant effect may unfairly burden certain segments of the population of Commonwealth. Many citizens will become victimized by these tax measures by virtue of their residence.

With the effects of party politics consistently falling on the backs of taxpayers, I urge you to strongly consider the aforementioned as an issue that clearly transcends party lines. It demands that party politics be put aside for the benefit of all those citizens office holders, regardless of party affiliation, are bound to serve. Consequently, notwithstanding the shackles of party politics, I stand with the republican legislators and yourself on this particular matter.

This problematic amendment was added to an otherwise outstanding bill at a very busy time in the Commonwealth. With the legislative session quickly winding down, I urge you to strike this section of the bill.

Thank you very much for your time and consideration on this matter.

Sincerely,

John C. Velis
State Representative
4th Hampden District

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