Baker, bucking GOP, goes green
Governor testifying in DC on climate change initiatives
MUCH HAS BEEN made of Gov. Charlie Baker’s “evolution” on taxes, as the state’s Republican governor, seemingly liberated by his November reelection, has shed his longtime aversion to new revenue-raising schemes.
Baker’s willingness to consider new taxes is a mark of his separation from Republican orthodoxy. Now, in another move that sets him apart from a national party that has moved sharply to the right, Baker is in Washington, DC, today to sound the alarm on climate change.
The Globe reports that the governor will testify before the House Committee on Natural Resources, now back under the control of Democrats, which is holding its first hearing on climate change since 2009. According to prepared remarks shared with the paper, Baker will issue a sweeping call for the federal government to include climate change risks in all federal planning, and will ask for more federal funding for infrastructure spending to deal with climate change effects and new federal emissions targets that could vary by region.
It’s a far cry from the prevailing outlook in his party, whose leader has derided climate change as a hoax, bailed out of the Paris Climate Accord, and didn’t mention the issue once in his State of the Union address last night.
Fast forward to the present and the Harvard-educated governor has apparently gotten a lot smarter on the issue.
“We understand the science and know the impacts are real because we are experiencing them firsthand,” Baker will tell the congressional committee today, according to prepared testimony shared with the Globe.
His openness to new taxes and a more aggressive stance on climate change dovetail in one recent proposal: Baker’s call for a 50 percent increase in the deeds excise tax to fund local climate change “resiliency” projects.Baker has been firmly in the never-Trump camp of the Republican Party, declaring in 2016 that he was blanking his presidential ballot, and he seems increasingly comfortable parting ways not only with the GOP’s standard-bearer, but with positions that now define the national Republican mainstream. Baker will reportedly try to cast climate change as a bipartisan issue, a worthy enough aspiration, but one that cuts against the grain of the partisan bent defining much of the climate debate.
A well-known frog famously said “it’s not that easy being green.” For Baker, it seems, it increasingly is.