Gov. Patrick Weighs 27-Cent Gas Tax Hike In Mass.

Gov. Deval Patrick is considering raising the gasoline tax in Massachusetts by 27 cents per gallon as part of a comprehensive transportation overhaul plan, The Associated Press learned Monday.

The proposal would stave off a doubling of Turnpike tolls planned for this summer, but would leave the state with the highest gasoline tax in the nation at 50.5 cents.

A policy draft obtained Monday by the AP said the added tax would be dedicated to paying down the debt of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, funding regional transit authorities and removing some tolls on the Massachusetts Turnpike.

Tolls would be removed west of Route 128 by the end of next year. Tolls within Route 128, from Westin to Boston, would come down as the state shifts to a program of tracking - and charging - all drivers based on the miles they travel.

Trips would be measured by a chip installed in a vehicle inspection sticker as soon as 2014, and drivers would receive a gas-tax refund to avoid double payments.

"The Patrick administration recognizes that a greener, more fuel-efficient transportation system means that the gas tax will become a less viable (means) of funding our transportation system," said the document prepared by Transportation Secretary James Aloisi. "A user-fee based system, collected electronically, is a fair way to pay for our transportation needs in the future."

An administration spokesman said the governor has made no final decisions about his plan, which is promised by the end of the month.

"We're finalizing our transportation reform plan," Patrick spokesman Joe Landolfi said. "It will be a comprehensive initiative, but no final decisions have been made - especially on a gas tax."

This program aired on February 9, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.