Lynch says gas tax could help transportation woes

U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch suggested a gas tax hike could help close the deficit for the state’s troubled public transit system.

“I think a holistic transportation bill is needed, one that increases revenue which means we might need to go up on the gas tax by 2 or 3 or 6 cents,” Lynch said during an appearance on Herald Radio.

He chided Republicans for opposing a gas tax increase as the price of gas declined sharply. The gas tax indexing law, which tied the gas tax to inflation, was repealed by state voters in 2014.

“They had no problem paying $4 for gas, now that it’s $1.97, $1.99, if we could have taken 3 or 4 cents and put it on the gas tax as that price was going down, I think we could have absorbed it,” Lynch said. “People would not have noticed the difference because the price was dropping so precipitously. We missed an opportunity there.”

The South Boston Democrat also said MBTA fare hikes could be “part of a solution. The T’s Fiscal Management and Control board approved a new fare structure yesterday that could raise fares by as much as 10 percent every two years.

“There are situations where we can raise fares on the T,” Lynch said, referencing South Shore residents voting to hike ferry fees in order to keep the boats operating. “I know (the T) is challenged right now and talking about cutting back service.”

Lynch, who supports former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election, also said a Donald Trump victory in the Republican primary would serve to energize the Democratic base.

“If he’s the nominee, I think the people who otherwise might have stayed home will come out to vote against him,” Lynch said. “He is providing energy and entertainment. I sat down and watched the Republican debate the other night, which is not something I would normally do. But it’s like a car accident, you just can’t take your eyes off of it.

“He’s basically a target-rich environment, that guy, he just doesn’t stop. As a Hillary supporter, yeah, I would love to see Donald Trump. Somehow I have a sense that Republican voters are a bit smarter than that.”