Start spreading the news: Not only are the Yankees a game and a half in front of the faltering Red Sox, New York has taken a big lead over Boston in dealing boldly with the carmageddon of traffic gridlock that is choking lots of American cities.
A budget deal reached between New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and lawmakers there will make New York City the first in the US to adopt a congestion pricing plan. Under the agreement, by 2021 a system will be established to charge motorists a fee to enter the most traffic-clogged areas of Manhattan.
Eighty percent of the millions of dollars in revenue the plan will generate will go to the beleaguered New York City subway system, a flow of funds that might have those who endured yesterday’s Red Line meltdown turn green with envy.
The budget deal also pushed New York ahead of Massachusetts on other issued favored by progressives, including a statewide ban on plastic bags, a real estate transfer surcharge on the sale of high-end homes, and the elimination of cash bail for most misdemeanors and nonviolent crimes.
The New York Times says Philadelphia is considering a congestion pricing plan, while Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle are all making plans to consider a similar move.
The reaction to the idea in Boston, which was recently rated as having the worst rush hour traffic in the nation? Not so fast, one might say.
A report issued in January by the city-sponsored Boston Green Ribbon Commission proposed a $5 fee for cars entering central Boston, but Mayor Marty Walsh said he’s not interested in adopting such a plan any time soon.
The Times story laid out the case for congestion pricing with a description that seems to seems to fit exactly what’s happening on Boston streets.
“Fueled by an economic boom, a revival of urban areas, a proliferation of Uber and Lyft cars and an explosive growth in package deliveries propelled by the rise of Amazon, the average speed in urban downtowns fell to 15 miles per hour last year, down from 18 miles per hour in 2015, according to INRIX, a transportation analytics company,” it said.
When it comes to highway congestion, Gov. Charlie Baker has been cool to the idea variable priced tolling, which would create incentives for drivers to shift commutes to less busy hours.
Meanwhile, the state’s gas tax has remained unchanged for six years, while MBTA riders have been hit with regular fare increases, not exactly a combination designed to get people to move out of cars and onto trains.
House Speaker Robert DeLeo told WBZ’s Jon Keller over the weekend that he’s “not ruling anything out” when it comes to new taxes, including those related to transportation, though he took note of the fact that voters in 2014 repealed the indexing of the gas tax to inflation.
Some anti-tax groups are noting that as well, making clear yesterday that they’ll take a dim view of any move to reverse that decision.
Having the gas tax bump up in line with inflation seems like an easy call for the state’s overwhelmingly Democratic Legislature, but plenty of those Democrats represent more moderate districts where such a move might not be well received. It’s the sort of issue that might test the muscle of the House Progressive Caucus, which has crowed recently about its strength (even if word that its membership had reached a new record level seems to have resulted from a miscount).
Shudder the thought, but whether it’s taxes or fees to deal more aggressively with traffic, or moving to make statewide a plastic bag ban that is now a patchwork of municipally adopted ordinances in Massachusetts, are we just slow walking our way to eventually catching up with New York?
If so, maybe the new chant should be, “Yankees surge.”
It turns out the House Progressive Caucus isn’t growing. The co-chair, Rep. Tricia Farley Bouvier of Pittsfield, says she miscounted. (CommonWealth)
The Massachusetts Republican Party is going on the offensive to defeat a bill expanding abortions rights in the state, with its fiery new chairman, Jim Lyons, charging that it would permit “infanticide.” (Boston Globe) Gov. Charlie Baker says he supports the existing law on abortions in Massachusetts and doesn’t want to expand access to late-term procedures. (MassLive)
Anti-tax groups are flexing their muscles in advance and warning against any talk of raising the state’s gas tax. (Boston Herald)
A Globe editorial slams the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance, saying the group’s calls for greater transparency ring hollow after it set up of a separate nonprofit to help shield donors from public disclosure.
Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito says the state will contribute $383,000 toward emergency call boxes, satellite phones for lifeguards, and first-aid equipment for towns on Cape Cod following an increase of great white sharks in surrounding waters. (Cape Cod Times)
Attorney General Maura Healey says her office disapproves of Brewster’s decision to ban recreational marijuana establishments, largely based on a recent Land Court decision. (Cape Cod Times)
A former Haverhill employee has filed a discrimination complaint against the city that the city’s lawyer says is related to an ongoing investigation into the Department of Public Works. (Eagle-Tribune)
The crumbling Gloucester waterfront has prompted one city property owner to propose removing designated port area restrictions on inner harbor development, and Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken welcomes the discussion even though she supports the restrictions. (Gloucester Daily Times)
Robert Burr, a Salem developer, is at risk of losing a permit for a commercial building because the trees planted out front are the wrong variety of gingko. (Salem News)
Saudi officials have showered homes and large monthly payments on the children of Jamal Kashoggi, who was killed by Saudi operatives in Turkey six months ago. (Washington Post)
Over the past 15 years, there’s been a big swing in public opinion about having a gay president. (NBC News)
Pete Buttigieg, the openly gay 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Indiana, is prompting interest in the question right now, as he’s taken the Democratic presidential field by storm with a surge of interest — and fundraising success. Buttigieg is due to speak at Northeastern University tomorrow, but Nathan Robinson, editor of the left-wing journal Current Affairs, has a harsh assessment of Mayor Pete, saying progressives who are getting excited about him shouldn’t.
Joan Vennochi says a Joe Biden peck on the back of the head to a Nevada lieutenant governor candidate should not be the kiss of death for a possible 2020 run for president. (Boston Globe)
Attorney General Maura Healey’s office indicts the owner of auto repair shops in Worcester and Everett for participating in an auto insurance scam. (MassLive)
First-generation homebuyers need support, say Tom Callahan and Symone Crawford of the Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance. (CommonWealth)
Soaring rents are squeezing nonprofits in Boston. (Boston Globe)
Gaye Hill steps down as chairman of the Hampshire College board of trustees, citing the “vitriol, slanderous attacks, and the questioning of motives that have been leveled at not only me but at colleagues.” (Daily Hampshire Gazette)
Former state reps. Martha Walz and Juana Matias say reform efforts in the Lawrence schools, where the graduation rate for Hispanic and high-need students exceed that in Boston, which spends 36 percent more per student, show that money alone can’t drive school improvement. (Boston Globe)
A person was diagnosed Sunday with the first case of measles in Massachusetts this year after traveling to restaurants and stores between Hyannis and Waltham last week. (WBUR)
Curahealth CEO MacGregor Morgan says the Stoughton Curahealth Hospital evacuation that displaced 21 patients on Sunday can be attributed to a piece of equipment that malfunctioned during a repair of a “leaky toilet” in the building. (Brockton Enterprise)
T notes: The transit authority over the last five years has witnessed a major employee exodus….A massive report details the many ways the T is inaccessible.to the disabled….The agency is using money collected from Uber and Lyft rides to subsidize Uber and Lyft handicap-accessible vehicles. (CommonWealth)
At Monday’s meeting of the Fiscal and Management Control Board, the Red Line’s meltdown that day was juxtaposed with the agency’s on-time performance. The T even disclosed it is working on a new way to measure being on time. (CommonWealth)
A 62-year-old Brookline woman lost her balance and bloodied her head at a press event Monday put on by scooter companies Lime and Bird to showcase the state’s first regulated electronic scooter pilot program. (WBUR)
Officials expressed dismay at the antics of a group of abou 30 bicyclists who hopped on I-93 and rode through the O’Neill Tunnel, but doubt that the $20 fine that the stunt can draw is enough to dissuade would-be repeat offenders. (Boston Herald)
South Shore entrepreneur Win Sargent will acquire the Plymouth & Brockton Street Railway Co., and serve as chairman and CEO. (Patriot Ledger)
Cultivate, one of the first marijuana facilities to open in the state, is already seeking permission to expand in Leicester. (Telegram & Gazette)
Irin Carmon has a very interesting and provocative tick-tock story about the behind-the-scenes maneuverings of me-too reporting at the Washington Post. (New York)