Massachusetts’ draconian transportation funding proposals

Get ready to have your money sucked away rapidly by the Massachusetts tax man and be prepared to have Big Brother riding with you everywhere you drive because Massachusetts lawmakers are formulating a plan to raise more money to pay for transportation.  The current proposals have many odious provisions which are documented in this CBS Boston article Massachusetts Lawmakers Propose Expanding Highway Tolls, Charging Drivers By The Mile.

Several key House members have hinted that they are likely to include an increase in the state’s 24-cents-per-gallon gasoline tax in a transportation revenue bill that Speaker Robert DeLeo is eyeing for release next month, but other ideas put on the table during a Transportation Committee hearing on Thursday could supplement that revenue stream.

Rep. Thomas Stanley warned his colleagues that over the long term the gas tax will be insufficient to meet roadway and public transit needs. Rising fuel efficiency in vehicles, he said, means that even the same frequency of driving will result in motorists purchasing less gas, generating less revenue for the state.

Instead, Stanley suggested Massachusetts embrace legislation (H 3010) he co-filed with Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier to create a pilot program to test fees based on the miles people travel rather than the amount of gas used.

As if all of these driver fleecing proposals aren’t ridiculous enough, there are more being investigated.

The first bill (S 2060) would instruct the Department of Transportation to report on the feasibility of implementing all-electronic tolling on state and interstate highways “not currently subject to a toll,” taking a look in particular at tolls along the state’s borders.

The second (S 2062) would expand tolls to stretches of Interstate 93, Interstate 95 and Route 2 in an attempt to apply equal charges to drivers across the greater Boston region. That bill also calls for implementation of dynamic “peak pricing” where the toll varies based on roadway conditions.

As a libertarian who values personal freedom and privacy very deeply, Massachusetts Bill H3010 really bothers me on a fundamental level.  Here are the details:

SECTION 3. PILOT PROGRAM.

(a) The department of transportation shall develop, implement and oversee one or more statewide pilot programs to assess owners of motor vehicles a user fee that is based on the number of miles traveled on roads in this state by those motor vehicles.

(b) The pilot programs shall include at least 1,000 volunteers across the commonwealth who are representative of drivers of trucks, passenger, and commercial vehicles and throughout the commonwealth, who will have on-board vehicle-mileage-counting equipment added to their vehicles, administered in a manner the department of transportation deems appropriate.

(c) The pilot programs shall test the reliability, ease of use, cost and public acceptance oftechnology and methods for:

(1) counting the number of miles traveled by particular vehicles;

(2) reporting the number of miles traveled by particular vehicles; and

(3) collecting payments from participants in the pilot programs.

(d) The pilot programs shall also analyze and evaluate the ability of different technologies and methods to:

(1) protect the integrity of data collected and reported;

(2) ensure drivers’ privacy; and

(3) vary pricing based on the time of driving, type of road, proximity to transit,          vehicle fuel efficiency, participation in car-sharing or pooling or income of the driver

The freedom to travel wherever we wish is under assault by this bill.  The government will be punishing us for traveling too far by taxing us on every mile we wish to drive.  That is unacceptable.  The technologies to implement this will result in Big Brother riding with us in every vehicle.  That kind of government surveillance is beyond unacceptable.

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