Episode 149: Baker increasingly isolated on transportation taxes

Gov. Charlie Baker finds himself increasingly isolated on Beacon Hill with his opposition to new revenues for transportation.

House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Karen Spilka are both open to raising additional revenues for transportation and the two chairs of the Legislature’s Transportation Committee, in an interview on the CommonWealth Codcast, said new money is desperately needed.

Rep. William Straus of Mattapoisett said his first priority this session is developing a revenue package with money dedicated for transportation along with a list of spending priorities for the future. He said lawmakers don’t like to increase taxes, so the revenue option chosen will be “the one people hate the least.”

“For me,” he said, “it’s hard to see the kind of revenue in the kinds of numbers we’re talking – hundreds of millions of dollars – that isn’t built at least as a core component of a gas tax change.” He said raising the gas tax is efficient and relatively straightforward, with each penny increase in the tax raising $35 million a year.