Gov. Healey nixes idea to add tolls at state borders

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Gov. Maura Healey has joined a chorus of voices pushing back against an idea floated by the secretary for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation about adding tolls at the state’s borders.
MassDOT Secretary Monica Tibbits-Nutt was giving a keynote speech at a WalkMassachusetts gathering on April 10 when she talked about the need to get “aggressive” to have enough money for safe transportation in the Bay State. She shared with the advocacy group audience that a funding task force has been created to look at new ways to generate revenue – including tolls at the borders.
But Healey says those comments do not reflect the view of the administration.
“To be clear, I am not proposing tolls at any border,” the governor said in a statement.
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She added that she spoke with Tibbits-Nutt about the issue and remains confident in the secretary’s leadership.
“Our top priorities are making Massachusetts a more affordable place and bringing people together to get things done. It is why we were proud to partner with the Legislature to pass a billion dollars in tax cuts. The Healey-Driscoll administration is committed to collaborating with the Legislature and all stakeholders to make Massachusetts a more affordable, competitive place,” Healey said.
The comments come after other leaders, including New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, ripped the secretary for the comments, pointing out that it’s another way to make the state less affordable.
“Looks like Massachusetts has found yet another way to unnecessarily take your money,” the Republican governor said in a statement over the weekend. “All the more reason for more Massachusetts residents to make the permanent move to New Hampshire. The Live Free or Die state continues to be the place to be.”
Tibbits-Nutt’s ideas were also not embraced by people like Massachusetts state auditor Diana DiZoglio.
“Merrimack Valley kid here. Putting a toll at the NH border would have DEVASTATING impacts on our region, not just economically speaking, but also regarding the unmanageable congestion & infrastructural burden it would create on every local backroad,” DiZoglio wrote on social media. “Creating a border war is not the answer and it’s definitely families within Massachusetts who would ultimately be hurt by this move — border communities count. I strongly urge the administration to reject this approach.”
The nonprofit Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance condemned Tibbits-Nutt for her “unsettling” and “insensitive” comments, calling them “simply reprehensible.”
“She describes her targets that will affect ordinary people, like people who commute from border states, people who get packages delivered, people who take Uber and Lyft rides, and even people who pay payroll taxes. Decisions to raise taxes, fees, or adding tolling should be made by our elected legislature, not announced by an overzealous, unelected bureaucrat before a special interest advocacy organization,” Paul Diego Craney, a spokesperson for MassFiscal, said in a statement posted online. “It’s frightening to think an official so high up in the Healey administration is bragging to a special interest advocacy group about the economic pain she wants to inflict on the very people who she’s supposed to work for. Remarks like this have no place in state government. Secretary Tibbits should be dismissed from her position in state government, as she’s clearly demonstrated she does not have the best interests of all the residents of Massachusetts at heart.”

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