'WHEN IT COMES to our transportation system, revenue can't wait," declared Robert DeLeo, the Massachusetts House speaker, when he unveiled a bill last month to raise taxes by $600 million. "Revenue can't wait any longer."
Since the House, for all intents and purposes, is a one-party institution whose members vote as they're told, there wasn't any doubt that DeLeo's bill would be approved. What passes for deliberation on Beacon Hill began in the House on Wednesday afternoon and was over by Wednesday night. A number of amendments to soften the measure's tax bite were introduced, only to be withdrawn or handily defeated. After a legislative session "that featured little public debate and lengthy periods of public inactivity," as the State House News Service put it, the bill was overwhelmingly approved.
If the Senate concurs, DeLeo's legislation will raise the state tax on every gallon of gasoline to 29 cents and on diesel fuel to 33 cents, hikes of 20 percent and 38 percent respectively. It will raise the tax on Uber and Lyft rides by 500 percent, from 20 cents per ride to $1.20. It will also strip the sales tax exemption from rental car companies that purchase additional vehicles, and jack up the annual minimum corporate excise tax from $456 to as much as $150,000. The commonwealth, already inundated with tax receipts, will collect even more of the revenue that DeLeo claims "can't wait any longer."
But DeLeo is wrong. . . .