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Raise taxes on gas? Is Massachusetts insane?

My jaw dropped when I saw this item in the Boston Herald. My wonderful home state of Massachusetts is, like a lot of other states, facing serious state budget problems.

What does our fearless governor, Deval Patrick, have to say about all this? "I have never opposed raising the gas tax. What I have said is that it is not my first choice. I think I would be right in saying that it is not the first choice of most consumers in Massachusetts, especially in these times."

Of course he said he's reluctant to raise taxes on gas -- what else could he say? But what's sad is that pretty much no one on Beacon Hill is willing to stand up and say "We will not raise taxes on gas."

But that's exactly what they should be saying. Here's why it's such a bad idea: the tax on gas is one of the most regressive taxes out there: while gas represents a drop in the bucket for people in the upper tax brackets, it's a huge expense for people living paycheck to paycheck and need their cars to get to work.

So when Deval Patrick, who has billed himself as a progressive, says that he doesn't oppose raising the tax on gas, that worries me. Our state's budget woes should not be solved by hiking taxes on the people who can least afford it.

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