Thursday, May 14, 2015

Senate Republican Caucus Seeks to Secure MBTA Reforms in State Budget

Boston- May 14, 2015 Massachusetts Senate Republicans today said that they will push for meaningful reforms to the MBTA in the Senate’s version of the Fiscal Year 2016 state budget, and are filing several amendments to provide their colleagues with the opportunity to take action and begin the process of bringing accountability dysfunction, that was exposed by the dramatic failures over the past winter.

“We can’t contemplate a $38 billion state spending bill without pursuing the reforms that are needed now to repair a broken MBTA, and to give riders, taxpayers and the public the mass transit system they need and deserve,” said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester).  “The time to act is now, and we will provide amendments for the Senate to take that action.”

Among the amendments being filed are those which would:
  • ·         Establish a five member control board to focus for three to five years on making the MBTA operationally sound and cost-effective,
  • ·         Free the MBTA from prohibitive strictures that prevent innovation and private partnerships and cost savings,
  • ·         Require rigorous performance management standards for procurement of goods and services, and
  • ·         Release the MBTA from the requirement of the Pacheco Law in order to secure greater cost savings.

“This is our opportunity to address the concerns that the entire Commonwealth has in reforming the MBTA,” said Vinny deMacedo (R-Plymouth) the Ranking Republican on the Senate Committee on Ways and Means.  “I have become convinced that the work of the Governor’s special panel will give the MBTA board the tools necessary to make our public transportation system world-class.”

Governor Baker appointed a special panel to review the MBTA system following the wide-spread interruptions and T closures during the winter.

“The need to fix and reform the MBTA is as important to my constituents in western Massachusetts as it is to the people who ride the T in the eastern part of the state. The amount of money, time, and resources spent on the T has a profound impact on the Massachusetts state budget which is, of course, a concern for the tax-payers, constituents, and voters, across the Commonwealth,” said Donald Humason (R-Westfield) a member of the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

“The failure of the MBTA to provide efficient and reliable service throughout the winter months has brought to light years of serious mismanagement and lack of fiscal discipline within the transit system and to not take significant action would be a great disservice to the people of the Commonwealth,” said Assistant Minority Leader Richard Ross (R-Wrentham). “Next week, we will be working hard for our constituents and commuters across the state to pursue reforms necessary to get the MBTA back in working order. It is my hope that we can put the needs of the people we serve before those of any political party or interest group."

Budget debate will begin Tuesday morning when the Senate will consider more than 900 proposals to the $38 billion state budget.