BOSTON – Westfield At-Large City Councilor Daniel Allie, a Republican, opposes Gov. Charlie Baker’s carbon tax initiative process.
Allie joins several Boston legislators in opposing Baker’s intention to lead a coalition of 10 other states seeking to institute a regional cap-and-trade program that would apply to emissions from cars and trucks.
According to State House News, the pact being developed by Massachusetts and other east coast states to cap carbon emissions from vehicles could add up to 17 cents to the price of a gallon of gas, but could also generate more than $500 million in revenue for state government in Massachusetts.
The program would reduce carbon pollution from cars and trucks and generate the resources needed to expand clean transit options and improve public health, according to Baker.
The effort, known as the Transportation Climate Initiative, is a central part of Baker’s transportation and climate agenda. The administration proposed earmarking half of all proceeds toward improving public transit.
Allie said in a press release that he opposes Baker’s process.
Most states are seeking legislative approval to enact this regional cap-and-tax scheme, states Allie’s release, but Baker wants to do it by executive order, without a vote of the legislature.
“According to our State Constitution, all state taxes must originate in the House. Beginning with the Declaration of Independence, Americans declared that governments derive their only just powers from the consent of the governed. Governor Baker does not have authority to unilaterally raise taxes. We already have enough trouble getting our elected officials to listen to us and spend tax dollars wisely on their intended purpose,” said Allie.
State House News reported last month that Chris Hoagland, an economist in the climate change division of Maryland’s Department of the Environment, said TCI’s model showed that emissions from vehicles – which cover 43 percent of all emissions in the region – would decline by 6 percent to 19 percent without any additional action.
That drop, according to Hoagland, would result from the ongoing shift to more fuel-efficient cars and trucks, but could fluctuate depending on whether federal fuel efficiency standards are rolled back.
The new economic forecasts also figure to play heavily into the upcoming debate that House Speaker Robert DeLeo has planned for January to generate new revenue for transportation.
Several of his top deputies have suggested a gas tax hike would be high on the list of options, reports State House News’ Matt Murphy, who wrote that while a straight gas tax hike may be less popular with business leaders, TCI has significant backing from many of the major environmental and employer groups in Massachusetts, including Associated Industries of Massachusetts and the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce.
Transit activists also see an opportunity in the program to generate significant new resources to invest in improved public transit and build new sidewalks and bicycle paths.
“We applaud Governor Baker’s leadership in advancing this important public policy initiative that will improve the lives of people in every corner of the Commonwealth who use our transportation system, breath the air, or care about climate change. TCI will stand as a model for the rest of the nation,” Transportation for Massachusetts Director Chris Dempsey said.
“TCI is attempting to bypass the democratic process without forcing the legislature to take a vote,” said Allie. “We pay enough taxes and the state could do better helping cities take care of the roads. I am not satisfied that with a 43 billion-dollar budget and a billion-dollar surplus, the state only provides 200 million-dollars a year to cities and towns for road maintenance.”
In 2014, Allie was a volunteer coordinator in the successful effort to Repeal Automatic Gas Tax Hikes and is expected to announce shortly his decision whether to run for the State Representative seat currently held by John C. Velis. Allie asks residents to contact state legislators and that further plans will be announced on the issue soon.