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Gov. Baker Pressures Legislators To Address Climate Emergency In State of the Commonwealth Address

Governor Charlie Baker at the Massachusetts State House. Courtesy of the Office of the Governor.

In his State of the Commonwealth address at the State House on Tuesday evening, the Republican Gov. Charlie Baker made significant proposals to increase transit funding and dramatically reduce the state's contributions to the global climate emergency.

“Tonight, I’m committing the Commonwealth to achieving an ambitious climate goal: net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050," said Governor Baker.

The Governor immediately followed that pledge with a focus on the state's transportation sector, the biggest regional source of greenhouse pollution.

“We’re working with our colleagues across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states on a regional Transportation and Climate Initiative," said the Governor. "Greenhouse gas emissions from transportation have been on the rise for decades and now represent 40% of this state’s total emissions. Unless we take on transportation, we won’t meet our objectives."

The Governor's pledge puts pressure on Democratic state leaders, who have recently been voicing doubts about the Transportation and Climate Initiative, but have thus far failed to propose any plausible alternative policies to achieve necessary reductions in climate pollution.

Governor Baker also produced some proposals for action in the short term. Acknowledging the bracing critiques made in a recent safety audit, the Governor announced that his next budget proposal would include "an increase of $135 million increase for the MBTA's operating budget.

That would represent a significant increase in the state's support for the MBTA, which operates on a budget of roughly $2.1 billion a year, with $1.3 billion in subsidies from state and local sources.

The address also called for better regulation of app-based ride hailing services, which "clog our roads and operate with very little oversight," according to the Governor.

Read the Governor's complete speech here.

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