Editor, Daily News
I wrote a Letter to the Editor in fall 2013 asking for your signatures to place a voter referendum on the November 2014 ballot regarding the automatic gas tax increase. For those of you who signed the petition, thank you! Now for the bad news. We have to do this all over again.
Last year, the State Legislature required 67,000 signatures to place the voter referendum on the ballot. Signature gatherers throughout the state submitted 120,000 signatures. The final hurdle was a vote by the Legislature. One-party rule in this state refused to act on it. Under the initiative petition process, if the repeal was not approved by the Legislature by May 6, 2014, proponents must gather another 11,485 signatures by June 18, 2014, in order for the question to appear on the November ballot. This means we must gather additional signatures, just in case we were not serious enough about the petition drive in 2013.
The State Legislature has voted to increase the gas tax automatically every year with the rate of inflation, forever, starting 2015. The tax is currently $0.24 per gallon. The real issue with this "forever tax" is that, once passed, the legislature never has to vote an increase again. There will be no debate. If the automatic gas tax increase is allowed to take effect in 2015, you can count on this to set precedent for other taxes and fees assessed by the state.
In the past two years, the State of Massachusetts had accumulated over $1 billion in budget surplus from taxes and fees. Flush with money, the State Legislature had to pass six supplemental budgets to spend this excess money. Did the taxpayers experience any tax relief as a result of the surplus? Of course not. It is extremely important that we tell our legislators that increases in fees and taxes must be debated. We send our legislators to Boston to vote on issues, not to create laws which will eliminate discussion and debate.
For those of you who did not sign the petition last year, we need your signatures. We will have a petition drive set up at the Redemption Center in Orange as well as The Lee Committee Campaign Headquarters, at 352 Main St., in Athol. Please stop in and sign or email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will bring a petition to you.
We need your help!
Susannah Whipps Lee