Say “Thank You” Massachusetts

One year ago drivers in the United States in general got an unexpected gift from the laws of supply and demand.  The US fracking boom which has caused the US to become the #1 energy producer in the world forced a reaction by the Saudi’s that dropped the price of fuel in the US in general putting money in everyone’s pocket that they didn’t expect, not just for drivers but for everybody who buys a product delivered by a truck.

As I noted in a piece earlier this year on Watchdog rather than celebrate this drop the Obama administration and others have tried to reverse this trend

These new rules, along with taxes proposed in various states, have the potential to do what the Saudis have to this point been unable to do: curtail the energy boom that has been the engine of the recovery thus far.  As Investors Business Daily  wrote “This war-on-shale action mirrors the administration’s war on coal, with EPA rules impossible to meet economically and sometimes requiring technology that doesn’t even exist.”

And to be sure Gas prices have slowly started to increase again.  The station where I fill up dropped to $1.99 a gal at their low and was charging $2.53 as of my last fill-up.

ma-gas-price-chart 10 year
With a national election on the horizon and terror threats in the news many in the state might have forgotten the fight that prevented annual automatic gas tax hikes for going into effect.This price increase hasn’t caused an angry reaction most likely because those now paying an average of $2.71 were paying nearly a dollar gallon more a year ago. ma-gas-price-table But if you’re a Massachusetts consumer grateful about that .90 a gallon you’re not paying this year, make sure you remember a debt of gratitude you owe to a few other people.

In 2013 The Mass legislature passed a .03 increase in the State Gas tax and included with the flat increase indexing the tax to inflation meaning we would get a tax increase every single year without a vote by the legislature.  As I put it at the time:

We get one chance to stop the indexing of gas tax increases forever, just one because if this budget is passed with the indexed tax it will not only never be repealed but it will be used as a political tool for years to come

I could see a bunch of 81-79 votes for repeal with every pol in electoral trouble voting with that 79 &beating their breast over the failure to repeal the tax.

Luckily for the state some people didn’t take it sitting down Mass GOP chair Kristen Hughes stood out with Tea Party members in 2013 publicizing that gas tax indexing.

and former GOP Congressional Candidate Marty Lamb who derided the attempt to increase gas taxes “to infinity and beyond”.

They had an uphill fight.   They were opposed by the Boston Globe and the Governor Patrick who were very well-funded.  In fact the No on one committee raised 2.9 Million dollars and spent 2.6 Million to save the indexed gas tax while The Committee to Tank the Automatic Gas Tax managed to raise only $98K spending 3.7% of their opponents.

Instead of big names they relied on a group of hard working grass roots activists and it paid off.  Despite being outspent nearly 30-1, the opposition of the largest paper in the state and then Governor Deval Patrick the group managed an improbable 53-47 victory leading to Holly Robichaud and Tank the Gas Tax being awarded the “Ballot Measure Campaign of the Year” by the American Association of Political Consultants

But the real winners are the Massachusetts drivers and consumers who are not dealing with an extra tax increase on Gasoline every single year.  Each one of them owes Ms. Robichaud, Mr. Lamb, Ms. Hughes and all those activists who gave freely of their time to keep the government out of their pockets a debt of gratitude

After the repeal passed I gave a warning:

The folks at the statehouse will learn from that result and be smarter next time. They’ll make small gradual changes, and reach into your wallet more subtlety, not stealing over their weight or attracting attention.

Let’s hope that if they do there are people ready to take up the fight once more.  Big Government is never stopped by accident, it comes from hard work.