Gov. Patrick (D- Massachusetts) is open to raising the gas tax instead of Pike tolls, but only is it's a large tax increase
Newton - Gov. Deval Patrick says he is open to the idea of raising the gas tax as an alternative to raising turnpike tolls but only if the increase is large enough to address some long-term financial problems.
“[Raising] the gas tax is not a bad idea,” Patrick told members of the Newton-Needham Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday, Nov. 25. “[But] we don’t need a gas tax that’s just enough to avoid the next round of toll increases.”
The governor has previously said he favors dismantling the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority and cutting all tolls west of Route 128 except at two state border crossings, while supporting plans to raise tolls inside Route 128 to help pay off Big Dig debt.
But plans to hike tolls by 75 cents at the Weston and Allston-Brighton tollbooths, where drivers currently pay $1.25, and the doubling of tolls at the Sumner and Ted Williams tunnels to $7, have led many lawmakers to propose a gas tax increase instead.
“Let’s talk about what it would take to remove the Big Dig’s burden on the MBTA,” Patrick said.
The governor did not say Tuesday how much he felt the gas tax would need to increase in order to avoid a toll hike. Instead he called for a substantive discussion designed to bring “real long-term change.”
“Leave behind who is to blame for the situation,” Patrick said. “I’m asking for a mature debate. I believe we have to govern for the long term.”