Ex-rep: DeLeo told me, vote for transpo bill or lose chairmanship

Jay Kaufman, the former state rep from Lexington, remembers a conversation he had with House Speaker Robert DeLeo the last time the Legislature considered raising taxes to pay for transportation.

It was 2013, the morning before the House vote on a bill that would raise the gas tax 3 cents, index that tax to inflation (later rescinded by voters), jack up tobacco taxes, and impose a tax (later jettisoned by lawmakers) on some computer software services.

Kaufman, who was the chair of the Revenue Committee, said he didn’t think that tax package would provide enough new revenue to meet the transportation system’s needs. But he said DeLeo told him that if he voted against the bill he would lose his chairmanship of the Revenue Committee.

“He made it very clear to me that my options were to vote for it or not be part of any conversation going forward,” Kaufman said. “He said, ‘If you can’t vote for this, I can’t have you as part of my team.’”

Kaufman wanted to remain in control of the Revenue Committee to ultimately usher in a progressive system of income taxation in the state, so he says he went along with the speaker’s request. But now, after not seeking reelection last year and with another transportation revenue bill poised to come up for consideration, Kaufman decided to speak out on the Codcast.