BOSTON — Roughly half of voters are generally receptive to the idea of paying $100 more per year in taxes to improve the conditions of roads and public transit in Massachusetts, according to new research published by The MassINC Polling Group that shows varying levels of support for different means of generating additional tax revenue.
The polling data also suggests that despite 71 percent of voters attributing transportation agency deficits to “waste and mismanagement” they are increasingly willing to support tax increases if they know specifically that the money will be invested in roads and transit, responding best to arguments that new revenue will create construction jobs, link people to jobs via better transit, and create a better business environment for younger workers.
The report is the result of a year-long research project that included interviews with transportation experts, nine focus groups and two public opinion polls.
The latest poll conducted Feb. 4 through Feb. 11 surveyed 1,506 registered voters, and found that 40 percent of respondents rated the state’s transportation system fair and 39 percent rated it good.
Sixty-five percent of voters said they’d be willing to pay $50 more for transportation improvements, but that level of support dropped to 48 percent if the price tag grew to $100 and 31 percent for $200.
Fifty percent of respondents said they support hiking income taxes and closing tax loopholes to raise funds for general transportation improvements. That’s a similar mix to what Gov. Deval Patrick has proposed, to blend an increase in the income tax with a reduction in the sales tax, the closing of tax loopholes and the elimination of some deductions.
Forty-seven percent said they would prefer to see revenue generated through fees, tolls and taxes of users of the transportation system rather than a broad-based tax increase such as the income tax.
Asked about the gas tax, 43 percent of those surveyed said they would support an increase for general transportation uses, compared to 55 percent opposed to such a plan. The level of support for increasing the gas tax climbed to 61 percent if the money is used to fund roads and highways.