Massachusetts measures pursue local road funding
August 6, 2020
Multiple measures at the Massachusetts statehouse are intended to provide a shot in the arm for local road funding.
Massachusetts now collects a 24-cent-per-gallon excise tax on gas and diesel purchases.
Despite the decision by legislative leaders not to pursue an increase this year in the state’s excise rate, other bills in the House and Senate focus on local road funding enhancements.
Local option fuel taxes
The first local road funding bill would authorize a local option gas and diesel excise tax. Specifically, any city or town could choose to collect up to a 5-cent excise tax on fuel sales.
The Joint Committee on Revenue has voted to advance the bill, H2592, to the House Ways and Means Committee for further consideration.
The Revenue Committee also voted to advance a bill that singles out authorization for a local option tax in the town of Charlton. The locale along Interstate 90 in Worcester County would be allowed to collect up to an additional 3 cents in excise tax on gas and diesel.
The bill, S1672, is headed to the Senate floor.
Transportation ballot questions
Another local road funding option is being considered in the Senate. The bill would provide local communities with an avenue to raise funds for regional transportation projects. Specifically, S1694 would let local ballot measures to ask regional voters whether to raise revenue for transportation work.
More than half of all states authorize regional voters to make decisions on transportation funding issues.
The bill cleared the Revenue Committee and is awaiting consideration in the Senate Ways and Means Committee.
Local roads funding gest boost
Citing concerns about the economic fallout from the coronavirus, legislative leaders have put on hold for the year pursuit of an increase in the state’s fuel tax rate.
Progress has been made, however, to secure additional funds for local governments. One new law will provide a boost in investment for local road and bridge projects.
Gov. Charlie Baker has again signed into law the bill to authorize the state to borrow $200 million for improvements to municipal-owned roads and bridges. The funds authorized via H4803 will be dispersed through Chapter 90 grants.
The grants are sent to towns and cities in Massachusetts to receive reimbursements on approved projects. It is a 100% reimbursable program.
Advocates say the funds are critical for every city and town across the commonwealth.
The amount is the same as what the state approved one year ago.