Massachusetts enjoys a reputation for progressivism, but in reality, Beacon Hill is more moderate, even more conservative, than realized. State government is friendly to many business sectors and has been fiscally restrained over the last decade when it comes to added taxation. Now, some activists and lawmakers think it's time that Massachusetts takes a decidedly left turn.

"We want the the State House in general to understand that there is a progressive population out there that is really strongly in favor of all these progressive issues," Watertown Selectwoman Caroline Bays said Wednesday while at the State House for the annual lobby day organized by liberal advocates Progressive Massachusetts. Over a hundred dedicated lefties met with lawmakers to try to push moderate Democrats to dive in on social and economic issues Beacon Hill is reluctant to take up.

But those issues, be it more funding for district schools, enhanced health care for the poor, or expanded service and repairs for the MBTA, need to be paid for in order to balance the state's budget.

For progressives like Bays, that answer is easy. Tax more, preferably the well-off.

"Today when I was lobbying my state my state rep, I said you're taxing me too little," Bays said.

A number of those state representatives, especially the new ones elected last year like Northampton's Lindsay Sabadosa, are game for raising taxes.

"If we want to do anything like fund our schools, invest in transportation, we're really going to need the revenue. So I really hope that that is the focus. Like I've been hearing from leadership," Sabadosa said.

Leadership in the House means Speaker Robert DeLeo. For over a decade, DeLeo has protected taxpayers from most tax increases. For activists like Richard Marcus, that's made DeLeo an impediment to the kinds of laws he'd like to see the Democratic super-majority enact.

"My perception is bills make it to the floor when he's ready to deal with them and when they're not - when he's not, they're never seen again," Marcus said.

Last month, however, DeLeo opened the door to tax increase discussion. The Winthrop Democrat also quickly pushed through bills banning gay conversion therapy, increasing family welfare access, and upping women's health care funding. On top of that, DeLeo has been telling progressive members like Jamaica Plain's Nika Elugardo that he'll put more progressive items on the agenda.

"It seems that the House leadership agrees with that. I know that Speaker DeLeo has put certain issues at the forefront, including education and immigration that last year didn't make it across the finish line," Elugardo said.

Among the Progressive Massachusetts crowd, there's a sense of apprehension mixed with hope that this session could lead to more progressive lawmaking for the 80 percent Democratic Legislature, even with Republican Gov. Charlie Baker still holding his veto pen.