AAA Massachusetts reports gas prices increased in the Bay State by nine cents per gallon in the last week to an average price of $3.27, according to its latest weekly survey. That's up from $3.10 just a month ago and $2.10 a year ago.

"Compared to the price of gas a year ago, it now costs consumers about $17 more to fill up their vehicles," said AAA's Mary Maguire. "Unfortunately, it doesn't look like drivers will be finding relief at the pumps any time soon."

According to a press release from the auto club, "The last time prices were this high was October of 2014 at $3.32 per gallon." AAA said rising crude prices are the "primary factor" behind the rapidly increasing prices.

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Adding to the misery, rising food prices, home heating fuel prices, and a worsening supply chain crisis could make this a long and difficult winter for many. Many New Bedford residents are finding it difficult to find affordable housing and many property owners are forced to pass on increasing tax assessments to their tenants.

It seems as though this would be the perfect time for Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker to drop plans to participate in the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI), as all of the other East Coast governors have already done. Only Massachusetts and Washington, D.C. remain in the pact, the goal of which is to reduce carbon emissions by 20-25 percent over 10 years. The ultimate goal is net-zero emissions by 2050.

Baker believes the "cap and trade" system would raise millions, if not billions, in new revenue for Massachusetts for improving transportation and funding infrastructure projects, but here's the rub: it would require an increase in the state's gas tax of between 17 cents and as much as 50 cents per gallon to raise that kind of money.

Massachusetts residents have spoken loudly and clearly against raising the gas tax on several occasions. Raising taxes now is the least sensible thing that Baker could do and would surely be repealed again by the electorate.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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