Boston - Massachusetts Republican lawmakers seeking to support commuters and motorists from record high spikes in fuel prices have proposed several bills that will expand access to and affordability of electric vehicle purchases, establish a 58.5 cent per mile driven refundable credit for certain commuting needs, and place a temporary freeze on the collection of the state’s fuels tax.
According to the latest data reported by the AAA, gas and diesel prices rocketed to all-time record highs this month at 47% and 50% over last year, respectively. The average gallon of gas in Massachusetts is $4.34 or $1.60 more than in 2021. AAA says that fuel over $4 per gallon, caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, is pushing drivers towards “a tipping point”. Drivers pay 24 cents per gallon at the pump in state tax with Massachusetts
"We cannot stand idle while day after day people are facing the economic pain of paying for fuel to get to work, school, and medical appointments,” said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R- Gloucester). “These bills create powerful tools to assist strained household budgets not only with the cost of fuel, but also with the costs of technology to be freed from dependence on that fuel."
“It is critical we find ways to ensure the economic gains of Massachusetts’ residents are not wiped out by the spike in gas prices and the associated increases in the costs of goods and services people rely on every day,” said House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading). “This legislative package not only will provide immediate relief to consumers at the gas pump without jeopardizing the state’s bond rating or its transportation funding commitments, but also will offer rebates and tax credits to help further ease the financial burden on the taxpayers of the Commonwealth.”
Including all state and federal taxes and fees, Massachusetts drivers pay a total of 44.94 cents per gallon in gasoline taxes, according to the American Petroleum Institute. The Massachusetts Clean Cities Coalition, which promotes the use of domestic fuels and advanced vehicle technologies, reports that retail prices for alternative fuels such as biodiesel, compressed natural gas, ethanol and propane are also sharply higher in price with biodiesel up 47% over last year.
The legislators filed a packet of three bills; an Act Providing Tax Relief to Massachusetts Residents, a temporary gas tax halt until Labor Day; an Act To Improve The Access And Affordability Of Electric Vehicles which establishes a program providing rebates to consumers who purchase or lease a plug-in electric vehicle; and an Act Establishing A Commuter Tax Credit which creates a refundable credit for the costs of motoring to schools, work, medical appointments, or on behalf of charitable organizations.
“We are paying more at the pump than ever before. For many families, these skyrocketing prices are debilitating and I believe that it is our legislative responsibility to provide some relief at the pump by suspending the state gas tax through Labor Day weekend,” said Senator Ryan Fattman (R-Sutton) lead sponsor of the bill to temporarily suspend the collection of the state gas tax. “This legislation will be paid through the general fund, where tax revenues are exceeding projected estimates and experiencing record high surpluses. Taxpayers deserve this small step we can take as legislators to protect hardworking families as we experience volatility in gas prices.”
The Republican Caucus recognizes a need to provide direct and targeted tax relief at a time when the Commonwealth's citizens are experiencing financial pain at the pump and in the cost of goods which are shipped and would like the Legislature to move quickly on the bills to bring assistance.
“Over the past week we have seen a sharp increase in the price at the gas pump, and with prices currently averaging $4.35 per gallon and rising, it is crucial that Massachusetts take action,” said Senator Patrick O’Connor (R-Weymouth). “The proposals that we put forward will provide immediate, much-needed relief at the pump while also encouraging consumers to transition to electric vehicles. The Commonwealth is in a strong financial position to adopt these policies and I look forward to our debate in the senate.”
The lawmakers will invite co-sponsors of the packet from members of the House and Senate.