Massachusetts Considers Hummer Tax

Posted: February 20, 2009

Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick (D) will unveil his transportation plan today, which may feature what the governor himself calls a "Hummer tax."

The measure, the Boston Globe explains, would feature "higher registration fees for gas-guzzling cars and offering discounts for those that do less harm to the environment. One industry opponent said it would be the first such fee in the nation on the state level." Backers say "saying it would encourage people to buy smaller and more fuel-efficient cars, which are increasingly seen as key to curbing global warming." Representative William Brownsberger, co-sponsor of a similar bill, told the Globe, "The social costs of larger vehicles include not only the additional pollution, but also higher crash risks to other vehicles."

But opponents of the measure "say such fees could penalize families and small businesses who need big cars or trucks and already pay higher fuel prices."

"On the other hand," Autoblog Green points out, "proponents for the legislation highlight the fact that it's technology neutral, meaning that any vehicle that manages to save fuel over its competitors would qualify for the savings, regardless of what kind of fuel or technology is being used."

Simpler ideas could also prevail. AG notes, "There are movements within the current Massachusetts administration that hope to raise the state's gas tax or increase the price of tolls. One problem with a gas tax increase is that the move towards more fuel efficient vehicles would lower the amount of income the state is taking in, so an alternative plan would tax drivers based on mileage driven."

Meanwhile, Massachusetts readers concerned about their budgets should note that many fuel-efficient cars are surprisingly affordable in the current market. Research the best car deals with U.S. News' car rankings and reviews.

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