Warren’s Sen. Felag aims to cut gas tax

John Dato pumps gas at a 76 station in West Covina, Calif.

John Dato pumps gas at a 76 station in West Covina, Calif.A 5-cent per gallon cut in Rhode Island’s gas tax will cut into the state’s tax revenues, but with the gas tax in Massachusetts a full 10 cents a gallon lower than in Rhode Island, Sen. Walter S. Felag Jr. (D-Dist. 10, Warren, Bristol, Tiverton) is more concerned about local stations losing business to stations just across the border.

 “If our gas tax continues to be so high, and so much higher than taxes in Massachusetts, our state should be concerned about how much revenue will be lost if Rhode Island stations close because they cannot compete fairly,” said Senator Felag. “You can’t get blood out of a stone and you can’t get tax revenue out of gas stations that are closed because motorists are driving a few miles into the Bay State to save money.”

Senator Felag has introduced legislation, 2013-S 0085, that would reduce the Rhode Island gasoline tax by 5 cents, from the current 32 cents per gallon to 27 cents per gallon.

Coupled with the federal gas tax, purchasers of gasoline in Rhode Island are paying 51.4 cents per gallon in tax, compared to 41.9 cents in Massachusetts.

“In our efforts to make it better to do business in Rhode Island, we cannot concentrate only on major companies, or start-ups, or certain private sectors. We must do what we can to help the small businesses in our state, and that includes operators of gas stations which, if located near the Massachusetts border, are daily losing business to our neighboring state,” said Senator Felag.

“Admittedly, with some of the tax moves Massachusetts has made in recent years and others the state is talking about, we need to do a major examination of our tax structure to make all businesses in Rhode Island more competitive,” he said. “We can start, though, with this one small area.”

Senator Felag said he is aware that a cut in the gas tax will mean less revenue intake for the state, but he said that “if our businesses are competing on a level playing field, I believe they will do more business and that means more revenue. On the other hand, if these stations go out of business, that will mean a lot of tax revenue that is lost.”

The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Finance.

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2 Comments

  1. DownTown said:

    Mr Felag seems a bit late with this concern since there has been a difference in the gas tax for years and years now with MA being 8-10 cents cheaper.

    On another note Deval Patrick is proposing increasing the MA gas tax by about 10 cents a gallon to pay for some of his ambitious projects such as rail to Cape Cod and SE MA. Of course you’d have to read the paper or read news on the net to know that.

    If RI does lower the gas tax that money should come out of the RIPTA funding.

  2. lat41lon71 said:

    It would be nice if indeed MA raised it’s fuel tax to at or near the RI level. Mr Felag’s bill would be unnecessary . In the meantime, most everyone within a convenient driving distance of the state line, regardless of what city or town they reside in goes to Massachusetts for their fuel. Add the MA drivers that avoid Rhode Island filling stations and this state probably loses more revenue than it gains from higher taxed fuel. RI is adept at exporting its commerce and this is justone example.

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