NewsMax reported yesterday that the initiative to stop the automatic gasoline tax increases in Massachusetts has made it onto the November ballot. The effort to get this on the ballot was a true grassroots effort.
The article reports:
Having secured a position on the fall ballot and with little money to propel it, the initiative to thwart an automatic rise in the gas tax by linking it to inflation could have an impact on other states if Bay State voters pass it this fall.
As Barbara Anderson, executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation, told Newsmax, “Any time a tax cut passes in blue-state Massachusetts, it gives hope to taxpayers everywhere. In other words, if we can do it, so can they.”
Veteran Massachusetts political consultant Holly Robichaud told Newsmax: “You have to remember that Massachusetts is the birthplace of the American Revolution and citizen outrage against ‘taxation without representation.’ And that’s about what happened here last year.”
She was referring to a vote in the overwhelmingly Democratic Massachusetts Legislature for a $500 million tax package. Buried within the package was the 3 cents per gallon tax increase. But far more significantly, the package also included language stating that the gas tax would now be linked to inflation.
“That means when inflation goes up, so does the gas tax — automatically, and without a vote by elected representatives,” Robichaud explained. “Theoretically, it could rise to infinity and beyond.”
Her view was strongly seconded by veteran tax battler Edward F. King, chairman of King Information Systems, founder of Citizens for Limited Taxation, and a Republican candidate for governor in 1978.
This is good news for Massachusetts residents, but it also an example of how ordinary citizens can undo the mischief that politicians do.
The article reports how it was done:
Although the potentially explosive linkage of the gas tax hike to inflation was largely ignored in the press, Robichaud, with her political ear to the ground, called a meeting at her Scituate home. Over Chinese food, activist Republicans, including former U.S. House candidate Marty Lamb, state Rep. Geoff Diehl, and GOP State Committeeman Steve Aylward plotted how to stop the tax link to inflation from becoming law.
Out of the meeting came language for a proposed statewide initiative that would not repeal the gas tax increase, but decouple it from inflation. As Robichaud explained, “We wanted the debate to be about automatic tax hikes. I think the debate on the principle is more important than 3 cents.”
Without this initiaitve (and hopefully a victory in November), the gas tax would have risen automatically without any legislator having to take responsibility for the increase–a politician’s dream and a taxpayer’s nightmare.