Berwick outlines transportation plan in run for governor

In broad strokes, Democratic candidate for governor Donald M. Berwick today outlined his plan for transportation in the state, saying he would push to increase funding for infrastructure and boost residents’ use of mass transit and bicycles.

But Berwick, a former Obama administration health care official, offered only a few specifics on what, exactly, he was proposing or where he might find more revenue.

One way to bring in money to support transportation funding, he said, would be “to explore a basis of revenue that rests on miles driven or the user fee approach.”

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That type of policy has, in the past, failed to gain traction in the state.

A year ago, Governor Deval Patrick proposed an increase in the state income tax to support more funding for transportation infrastructure and education, but his proposal was slimmed down by the Legislature. The law that was passed used other sources of funding, such as a boost in the gas tax.

In a conference call with reporters, Berwick said the gas tax was necessary in the current environment. He did not directly answer a question about whether he would support an increase in the state income tax to pay for transportation. He said, however, he would support a change to the state Constitution to allow for a progressive income tax.

Berwick said the Patrick had made progress on transportation, but “we have a lot more work to do.”

“We need to go back and have another conversation with the Legislature,” he said.

Among Berwick’s proposals: more technology in mass transit that would make it more efficient and accountability from transportation agencies.

Berwick is among the Democrats running to succeed Patrick, who has pledged not to run for a third term. His opponents for the party’s nomination are: Juliette Kayyem, a former state and federal homeland security official; Attorney General Martha Coakley; Treasurer Steven Grossman; and Joseph C. Avellone, an executive at a bio-pharmaceutical research firm.

On the Republican side, Charlie Baker, the 2010 GOP gubernatorial nominee, and Mark R. Fisher, a political novice from Shrewsbury who aligns himself with the Tea Party, are running.

Two independent candidates have also launched bids: Evan Falchuk, an attorney and former business executive; and evangelical christian pastor Scott Lively.

Venture capital investor Jeffrey S. McCormick, an independent, is seriously considering a run as well.

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