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Car use tax worth eyeing, official says

The state transportation secretary said yesterday that taxing drivers based on how much they use their cars, to supplement the gas tax that helps pay for highway projects, is an experiment worth a look in Massachusetts.

Daniel A. Grabauskas made the remarks while speaking to a new Beacon Hill commission looking at alternative ways to pay for transportation projects.

But Jon Carlisle, spokesman for the Executive Office of Transportation, immediately backed away from the comments, saying a mileage-based tax "was not in any way under active consideration."

Grabauskas was asked about a new system for taxing drivers, using global positioning technology to keep track of how much individual cars are used, that Oregon plans to test next year and that officials in California and Washington state are also considering.

Grabauskas merely responded by saying that all new ideas should be considered, Carlisle said.

"It was an offhand comment during a brainstorming session," he said.

Governor Mitt Romney, who appointed Grabauskas, is opposed to any increase in taxes or new taxes, and has been on record opposing any increase in the gas tax, which was proposed in Congress earlier this year as a way to bolster federal funding for highway projects.

Anthony Flint can be reached at

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