Healey nixes Mass. transportation secretary’s border toll idea

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Gov. Maura Healey at North Station with Transportation Secretary Monica Tibbits-Nutt and MBTA General Manager Phillip Eng. (Bruce Mohl/CommomWealth Beacon)

Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey overruled her transportation secretary on Monday, issuing a statement strongly disavowing comments Monica Tibbits-Nutt made on April 10 indicating she was considering raising money for the state’s transportation system by installing tolls along the state’s borders.

“The Secretary’s comments do not represent the views of this administration, and to be clear, I am not proposing tolls at any border,” Healey said in the statement. “I have spoken to the Secretary and made that clear, and that I have confidence in her leadership moving forward in this important time as we work to ensure a strong and robust state transportation system.”

It was unclear whether Healey had concerns about any other comments made by Tibbits-Nutt at an event hosted by Walk Massachusetts. At the event, the secretary talked about other revenue-raising measures she is considering, including a payroll tax increase and higher or new fees on Uber and Lyft trips and package deliveries. Tibbits-Nutt also called for tighter enforcement on speeding violations, made a pledge to do away with a commuter rail layover facility as part of the I-90 Allston project, and slammed those who drive F-150 trucks.

The comments, first reported by CommonWealth Beacon, attracted an outpouring of anger on social media. The conservative Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance on Monday called for Healey to fire Tibbits-Nutt and Boston Herald columnist Howie Carr called her “a real nutjob.”

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, whose state relies heavily on toll revenue, told the Boston Herald the Tibbits-Nutt border toll idea was another money grab by Massachusetts, and state Auditor Diana DiZoglio, calling herself a “Merrimack Valley kid,” tweeted that “creating a border war is not the answer and it’s definitely families within Massachusetts who would ultimately be hurt by this move.”

The Secretary’s comments do not represent the views of this administration, and to be clear, I am not proposing tolls at any border.

– Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey

On Friday, the governor’s office coordinated with Tibbits-Nutt’s office in issuing a statement saying no final decisions had been reached by a task force looking into how to fund transportation in Massachusetts.

“The Secretary was conveying that we need to have difficult conversations about how to make our transportation system work best for everyone,” the statement said. “This task force is in its early stages and no decisions have been made about its potential recommendations. Any proposals would be made in collaboration with the Legislature and other stakeholders and would carefully consider any affordability and competitiveness implications.”

Healey on Monday decided that wasn’t enough, so she issued the statement saying border tolls are no longer under consideration. “Our top priorities are making Massachusetts a more affordable place and bringing people together to get things done,” Healey said in her statement. “The Healey-Driscoll administration is committed to collaborating with the Legislature and all stakeholders to make Massachusetts a more affordable, competitive place.”

This article first appeared on CommonWealth Beacon and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

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