Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance made the following statement today regarding the Rhode Island legislature going into recess on Thursday without voting to approve their state entering into the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) with Massachusetts
Like Connecticut, Rhode Island must seek legislative approval of the agreement before their state officially can enter into it. On June 4, Connecticut lawmakers were unable to gain a consensus to approve TCI, despite using the budget as negotiation leverage, due to its lack of support by rank-and-file lawmakers. Essentially, TCI suffered a similar blow in Rhode Island on Thursday. The bill in the Rhode Island House remains in the House Finance Committee, as lawmakers there realistically view it as a gas tax.
“What happened in Connecticut in early June is clearly having an impact on what’s happening in Rhode Island in early July. Lawmakers have a very good pulse for what their constituents want and realize that there is no desire to raise gasoline and diesel costs anywhere. While gasoline is surpassing $3.00/gallon and inflation is devaluing wages, TCI is about to make matters worse for working people and low-income families in order to subsidize electric cars for the affluent. Aside from small pockets in Massachusetts that continue to push TCI, this doesn’t sound appealing to anyone and states from Virginia all the way up to Maine continue to reject it,” stated Paul Diego Craney, spokesperson for MassFiscal.
As of today, TCI has still not disclosed how much they want to raise the cost of diesel fuels. TCI had originally started out with 12 states, from Virginia all the way to Maine, engaged in the process. After intense political pressure, the only Governors that joined on December 21, 2020 were Gov. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, Gov. Ned Lamont of Connecticut, and former Gov. Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island. Recently, lawmakers in Connecticut and now Rhode Island have refused to take up joining TCI, even though their states require a legislative vote to enter into the agreement so that fuel prices can start to increase by as early as 2022 when TCI goes into effect. Kathleen Theoharides, Gov. Baker’s Secretary of the Office of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs is the head of the TCI effort.
“At some point, the regional approach to TCI is going to lose whatever credibility it has left when it’s just Massachusetts entering into the agreement next year. It’s clear to everyone but Gov. Baker and Lt. Gov. Polito that there is no appeal to TCI and Massachusetts should withdraw from the program and stop wasting taxpayer money on trying to advance a regional gas tax that only the Governor of Massachusetts wants to see implemented,” concluded Craney.