Opponents of the hotly debated Transportation Climate Initiative are pushing a bill this week that would force Gov. Charlie Baker to seek approval from the Legislature before enacting the multi-state compact that will hike the cost of gas.
“The bottom line is we’re filing something that will at least require the Legislature to approve and maybe direct it if it’s passed,” state Rep. David DeCoste, a Norwell Republican, told the Herald. “It’s essentially a tax and you could have potentially never-ending tax increases as a result of this and nobody would ever vote on it.”
Baker has been keen on the TCI deal — a collaboration between 12 states from New England to the Mid-Atlantic, as well as the District of Columbia — as a method of reducing carbon emissions and moving toward renewable energy for transportation.
The compact would charge fuel companies for the carbon emissions associated with the gas and diesel they sell. Half of the money raised through the fees would go toward Baker’s $18 billion transportation bond bill, which includes major investments in the beleaguered MBTA.
But DeCoste is among the group of legislators, activists and Massachusetts residents who are decrying the initiative as a gas tax and pushing for the Legislature to have a say. Baker could enact the TCI via an executive order.
“Between possible gas taxes, some questions about wanting to put tolls on Interstates 93 and 95 and all the rest of the major thoroughfares, and then you have the congestion pricing that people have talked about, it’s like the tax increase of the day,” DeCoste said.
State Rep. Marc Lombardo, R-Billerica, said he was “100%” behind DeCoste’s proposal.
“In Massachusetts, all revenue proposals and tax proposals start in the House of Representatives, and under the TCI it’s being proposed as an executive order,” Lombardo said. “I think that’s a really poor practice and certainly not the norm for Massachusetts tax policy.”
Lombardo is among a growing number of legislators and residents who have responded on TCI’s website voicing opposition to the initiative. Some have assailed the compact as a thinly veiled gas tax, while others more recently have pushed back on the notion of Baker bypassing the Legislature.
Baker’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. It was unclear when the governor would act on the compact.
Lombardo said, “The basic premise of being representatives is that we’re the voice of the people; we’re there to be the voice of our constituents in our communities.”
He added, “When it comes to things like TCI, our residents deserve to have their voices heard, and they do so through their representatives, and they should have that continue.”
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