Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, not content with destroying thousands of businesses with his COVID-19 restrictions, is coming for the rest with a new regional gas tax in his quest to control the climate.

Baker has announced a Transportation and Climate Initiative with Rhode Island, Connecticut, and the District of Columbia to develop a "cap-and-invest" program. The goal is to reduce pollution from motor vehicles by raising new taxes to expand "clean transit options" and improve public health.

Baker had been in discussions for two years with the governors of a dozen East Coast states to form such a coalition, but in the end, only Rhode Island, Connecticut, and D.C. bought into the scam.

The Transportation and Climate Initiative would initially raise the gas tax for motorists in the three states and D.C. by between five and nine cents per gallon. Baker had advocated for as much as a 15-cent-per-gallon increase. Of course, once a new tax is established, there is no saying how quickly the coalition might come back to the well and for how much more.

Massachusetts businesses were already reeling from bad business policies, and then came COVID. Now Baker wants to add to the misery by increasing taxes during a time when businesses are in crisis mode and consumers are struggling to pay rent and meet expenses.

Baker's TCI would raise an additional $1.8 billion from taxpayers over the next 12 years in what Citizens for Limited Taxation calls a "boondoggle." The Administration argues that Baker's initiative "provides a critical opportunity to improve air quality throughout the Commonwealth, create jobs for Massachusetts residents, and help our state and regional economies recover." CLT says it will do nothing of the sort.

In a statement, CLT said the agreement does "nothing to create jobs for Massachusetts residents" and will do "very little if anything whatsoever to reduce pollution or affect the climate around the world." Executive Director Chip Ford accuses Baker of simply "leading a crusade."

Transportation under Charlie Baker is a nightmare. We already invest billions for transportation projects that are misspent or cannot be accounted for. In addition, voters have made it abundantly clear that they oppose new gas taxes.

When fuel costs go up, the cost of everything goes up. This is not a time to be increasing the burden on business and consumers for some mythical quest to lower the oceans. Balance the budget. That would impress me.

I'm not sure Massachusetts can survive two more years of King Charles and his policies.

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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