ITEM FILE PHOTO
This February 2017 file photo shows Newton Mayor Setti Warren on a visit to Lynn.
By THOMAS GRILLO
LYNN — Democratic candidate for governor Setti Warren promises to extend Blue Line service into the city and have millionaires pay for it.
The two-term Newton mayor will make the case for the MBTA project at Central Square Station at a campaign stop Friday morning.
Warren, who is running to unseat Gov. Charlie Baker, is facing a challenge for the Democratic nomination from environmentalist and entrepreneur Robert K. Massie and former Gov. Deval Patrick administration budget chief Jay Gonzalez. Whoever wins, they will battle Baker, who was recently named the country’s most popular governor in a nationwide poll.
Warren, an Iraq War veteran, said he did not know how much it would cost to extend the Blue Line 4.5 miles above ground from Wonderland Station in Revere into Lynn.
“Here’s what I do know,” he asked. “The cost of not doing it is the loss of access to high-paying jobs, not getting cars off the highway and more congestion because that’s what’s happening right now.”
In 2013, the MBTA conducted a Blue Line Extension study and estimated the cost from $737 million to $1 billion.
Warren said there are at least two ways to pay for the T project. First, as governor he pledged to examine $12 billion in state tax credits that are lost to the treasury.
“I’d look at exemptions that are in the tax code right now that gives revenue away to special interests,” he said.
The second method to raise revenue is to implement the so-called millionaire’s tax. If approved by voters next year, the proposal would amend the state constitution by imposing a 4 percent surtax on incomes over $1 million. The money would be designated for schools and transportation.
About 20,000 or 0.5 percent of households in the state would be hit by the new tax and it would raise $1.9 billion annually, according to the state Department of Revenue.
“Transportation is a critical part of moving people back and forth to work,” Warren said. “It’s critical to get people off the roads and out of their cars. If we are not making smart investments in things like transportation and we are giving away revenue through tax exemptions, we are not being honest about how we are spending money.”
The Newton mayor also endorsed the Lynn to Boston ferry which was cut last summer amid budget problems.
“The longer we wait to make investments in things like the ferry and Blue Line, we are growing economic inequality because we are not providing Lynn with the chance to grow economically,” he said. It’s essential for the vitality of the city for these projects to move forward so Lynn can meet its full potential.”
Jacqueline Goddard, a spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, declined comment.
But in a visit to Lynn last year, state Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack said given the T’s budget troubles, the T was not building new stations on the state’s dime.
Thomas Grillo can be reached at email@example.com.