Representative Garlick voted to pass legislation to invest up to $600 million annually in an immediate and critical infusion of transportation funding.
The House plan provides much-needed revenue that will begin to address the ongoing needs of the statewide Massachusetts transportation system. The system faces increased congestion, ongoing unreliability and safety concerns while cities and towns across the state report increased transportation infrastructure needs.
The House estimates the legislation, known as An Act Relative to Transportation Finance, will bring between $522 and $612 million in annual revenue. The bill contains a moderate increase in the gas tax and the diesel gas tax of 5 and 9 cents, respectively.
The legislation also features the first increase to the corporate minimum tax in more than 30 years. The tax is tiered to protect small businesses while ensuring the largest companies contribute appropriately for their reliance on the state’s transportation infrastructure. Small businesses with less than $1 million in annual Massachusetts sales would see no change in their tax rates. Businesses with Massachusetts annual sales above $1 million would pay fees according to an eight-tier scale. The maximum annual fee of $150,000 is for companies with annual Massachusetts sales of $1 billion or more.
Under the bill, Transportation Network Company (TNC) fees would increase in a tiered structure to incentivize shared rides. Shared rides fees will not increase, but fees are higher for non-shared and luxury rides. The bill updates a TNC out-of-state driver excise tax provision and sets TNC data collection and reporting requirements. The bill also eliminates a rental car sales tax exemption for car rental companies to close an existing loophole that currently allows companies to purchase fleet vehicles without paying sales or use taxes on the transaction.
With the goal of keeping oversight of the MBTA’s fiscal management practices intact, the bill extends the Fiscal Management Control Board to at least 2023, with an option for an additional extension to 2025. The provision also adds two seats, one for the City of Boston, to increase municipal representation on the board. Finally, the bill establishes an 11-member commission of outside experts to study congestion pricing and tolling systems to provide a comprehensive investigation into roadway pricing mechanisms designed to change commuter behavior.
The bill will now go to the Senate.