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Governors, elected officials across New England lining up to oppose the TCI

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The Transportation and Climate Initiative, a regional coalition of 12 states and Washington DC that seeks to price emissions within the transportation sector, is losing support from stakeholders in key states.

As noted in a Boston Herald published article over the weekend, support for the TCI continues to dwindle throughout the region which is putting pressure on Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, one of the few vocal proponents of the plan.

“The Commonwealth looks forward to working with other regional leaders to identify practical, market-based solutions to reduce transportation emissions while growing the regional economy and significantly improving public health. The Administration is pleased by the robust participation by Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states throughout the program’s ongoing development process and by the broad coalition of support from members of both the business and environmental communities,” Anisha Chakrabarti, Gov. Baker’s deputy communications director, said in a December statement.

When the TCI released its draft Memorandum of Understanding in December, New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu was the first to publicly oppose it, calling the plan a “financial boondoggle.”

“I will not force Granite Staters to pay more for their gas just to subsidize other states’ crumbling infrastructure,” Sununu said. “New Hampshire is already taking substantial steps to curb our carbon emissions, and this initiative, if enacted, would institute a new gas tax by up to 17 cents per gallon while only achieving minimal results. This program is a financial boondoggle and the people of New Hampshire will never support it.”

Since that time, more New England governors are lining up to oppose the TCI, including Gov. Ned Lamont in Connecticut and Gov. Phil Scott in Vermont.

“Raising the gas tax … is 100 percent paid for by Connecticut residents and probably not the way to go,” Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont said Jan. 7 on Connecticut Public Radio.

While stating his administration is still examining the TCI, Gov. Lamont has ruled out a gas tax increase as the “primary method to fund infrastructure improvements,” according to his spokesperson.

One day after Gov. Lamont’s announcement, Gov. Scott of Vermont criticized the gas tax that comes with the TCI and its impact on consumers.

“I hear from Vermonters across the state, like those traveling long distances for work out of necessity not choice, and others, like our seniors living on fixed incomes, who struggle to fill their gas tanks and heat their homes,” Scott said. “I simply cannot support proposals that will make things more expensive for them.”

Rhode Island’s Speaker of the House Nicholas Mattiello is also pushing back against the TCI, supported by Gov. Gina Raimondo, telling the Providence Journal that the state has management problems, not revenue problems, and doesn’t need to raise taxes to close a $200 million hole in the state budget.

“Mattiello said any tax increase proposed by fellow Democrat Raimondo, including the potential gas tax hike emanating from a regional climate initiative, ‘will be looked at very skeptically,’” the Journal reported on Dec. 18.

Gov. Janet Mills of Maine has not yet indicated whether she would enter her state into the TCI. It’s also unknown if the governor would do so by a legislative vote or executive fiat.

Interested Mainers can submit public comment on the design of the TCI by filling out the TCI Stakeholder Input Form, available here. Public comments are due by February 28, 2020.

About Jacob Posik

Jacob Posik, of Turner, is the director of communications at The Maine Heritage Policy Center (MHPC) and the editor of The Maine Wire. He formerly served as a policy analyst at MHPC. Posik can be reached at jposik@mainepolicy.org.

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