Massachusetts’ 2022 election ballot could include question on regional climate pact

August 11, 2021

Keith Goble

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A challenge to a regional climate pact could be added to Massachusetts’ 2022 election ballot.

State Rep. David DeCoste is leading a group that has filed an initiative petition to include on the 2022 midterm ballot a question to end the state’s pursuit of adopting a controversial plan to reduce carbon emissions.

The pursuit from the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance is one of about 30 proposed laws and two proposed constitutional amendments filed with the state Office of the Attorney General.

Dubbed the Transportation Climate Initiative, the proposal is intended to aid transportation work and limit emissions from road, rail and air sources. Fuel tax increases estimated at nearly 10 cents per gallon are expected to result from the adoption of the plan.

Transportation Climate Initiative background

In late 2020, Gov. Charlie Baker along with governors in Connecticut and Rhode Island, and the mayor of Washington, D.C., signed a memorandum of understanding stating their intention to bolster transportation funding and reduce emissions via the regional cap-and-invest program.

Each participating state is responsible for approving the final tax plan.

According to a news release, the Transportation and Climate Initiative requires large gasoline and diesel suppliers to buy what are called “allowances” in a cap-and-trade plan. Essentially, companies would be limited to how much carbon dioxide they could emit. After reaching its cap, a company could pay the government a certain amount of money to go beyond that limit. Allowances a company could purchase would decline each year.

The initiative is touted to cut greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles in the region by 26% from 2022 to 2032.

The program is estimated to generate about $3 billion over the next decade. Participating states are expected to use that money to invest in “clean transportation” options and to help stimulate economic recovery from the pandemic.

 21-18 Initiative Petition

The petition effort titled 21-18 is described as an act preserving consumer access to gas and diesel fuels.

Specifically, the petition states that “the supply of gasoline, diesel fuel, special fuels or similar motor fuels available to meet consumer demand shall not be reduced or restricted by the imposition of any tax, fee, other revenue generating mechanism, or market-based compliance mechanism.”

Supporters must collect 80,000 signatures before mid-November to qualify for the 2022 ballot. The process can begin Sept. 1.

H3: ‘Millionaire tax’
A separate question already to secure a spot on the 2022 ballot would create an additional tax to benefit transportation work.

The Massachusetts legislature voted earlier this year to include a question to collect a 4% surtax on the state’s wealthiest residents. The so-called “millionaire tax” would be collected from individuals who report an annual income over $1 million.

Massachusetts now requires all income be taxed at uniform rates.

Affected residents would pay the additional 4% only on income exceeding $1 million yearly.

Advocates say the new tax would raise about $2 billion annually for education and roads, bridges and public transportation.

Critics say there are multiple holes in the estimated tax revenue plan. They say the tax would result in lost jobs and that taxed individuals would simply leave the state. LL

More Land Line coverage of news from Massachusetts.

 

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Keith Goble has been covering trucking-related laws since 2000. His daily web reports, radio news and “OOIDA’s State Watch” in Land Line Magazine are the industry’s premier sources for information regarding state legislative affairs.