Politics

As Governor, Mitt Romney Raised A Gas Tax By 400%

The Republican Presidential frontrunner increased gas taxes in Massachusetts for an environmental fund. He then shifted the revenues into the general fund.

Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has been attacking President Obama for the high price of gas prices and calling on him to fire his administration’s “gas hike trio.” He’s suggested Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson intentionally raised the price of gasoline.

But during his time as Governor, Romney actually increased the price of gasoline directly himself according to this 2010 News report from the Boston Fox affiliate. In 2003 Romney increased fees on gas by two cents a gallon to pay for environmental clean ups of leaking underground gas station fuel tanks. The fee increased the clean-up tax on drivers by 400% and hit consumers directly at the pump. The fund, which was originally only half-a-cent, was created in 1992 to aid gas station owners with clean-ups.

Two weeks after raising that tax, Romney eliminated the fund for gas station clean-ups entirely but kept the two cent increase. The money raised by Romney’s tax increase now goes directly into Commonwealth’s coffers for legislators to spend as they please.

The result of Romney’s decision was about $60 million more every year in tax revenue and a huge backlog in clean-ups. Of all the money collected by Romney’s tax increase, only $13 million annually reportedly goes to clean up gas leaks.

CLARIFICATION: The fees are imposed on the delivery of gas to stations’ underground storage tanks, not directly on drivers; such taxes are widely viewed — particularly by Republicans — as being passed directly on to consumers. Jake Tapper was the first to write about this issue this year.

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Andrew Kaczynski is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact this reporter at andrew.kaczynski@buzzfeed.com
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