Charlie Baker Talks Immigrant Driver’s License Bill and Boston Transfer Tax

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Governor Charlie Baker slams the Legislature’s decision to vote against a railing to a bill that would give driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants.

“One of the things that Brad Jones, who is the Republican minority representative in the House, proposed during the House budget debate was to give the registry, to give the city clerks, the power to speak to the register to determine if someone… is eligible to vote, and that was rejected. It bothered me a lot,” Baker said Thursday on “Boston Public Radio.”

The bill, which has passed the House and is currently debating in the Senate, would grant illegal immigrants in Massachusetts the right to obtain a driver’s license and drive a car, which supporters of the bill say. law, would allow them to come and go to work, doctor’s appointments and their children’s school.

Jones’ amendment, mentioned by Baker, would insert another check into the voter registration process, which could prevent illegal immigrants from illegally registering to vote.

Baker pointed out that in Massachusetts, those who get a driver’s license are automatically registered to vote. “So we need to create a process that somehow separates people who are citizens from people who aren’t who are applying for that driver’s license,” he said.

Baker pointed out that, unlike similar bills passed in other states, permits granted to illegal immigrants would be identical in appearance to standard driver’s licenses.

“The driver’s license is one thing, the right to vote is another,” Baker said. “But we’re using the driver’s license and the process to get one as a mechanism that actually, you know, creates that right to vote in the Commonwealth.”

Baker also took aim at Mayor Michelle Wu’s plan to sign a petition that would tax real estate sales for their value over $2 million to fund affordable housing. Although Baker is generally reluctant to comment on pending bills, “as a rule, I don’t support this stuff,” he said.

He questioned the timing of the House Rules petition, which Baker and the legislature would still need to sign before it could be signed into law.

“I particularly wonder why we are doing this at a time when we have billions of dollars at our disposal to spend on housing,” he said. He called on the legislature to underfund housing initiatives to support first-time homebuyers and drew attention to the “large state surplus” Massachusetts has in its coffers.

“Those are huge numbers, folks,” Baker said of the hundreds of millions Boston has received in American Rescue Plan Act funds. “The city and the Commonwealth should put a lot more into housing initiatives.”

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