Monday, February 29, 2016

MBTA Reform Bill One Year Ago This Week

From time-to-time there are particular occasions that cause us to look back and reexamine events of the previous year. The near record high temperatures of this week stand in stark contrast to winter storms that beleaguered us all last year. Though, for more than a million MBTA riders who were unmercifully exposed the failed transit authority last winter will be hard to forget.

One year ago this week, with snow still piling up, I filed legislation to create an MBTA Fiscal Control Board, a legislative approach to increase accountability and establish financial stability. February 2015 proved to all that the only thing more cold and unapologetic than the brutal weather were the consequences of the stone-cold reality of years of failed MBTA management practices.

Expected to serve people across 175 communities, the MBTA is given billions of taxpayer dollars to spend. The impacts of years of MBTA mismanagement will take more than just time to remedy – appreciatively real reform is on the way.

With the unanimous support of my colleagues in the Senate, a modified version of the Fiscal Control legislation was adopted in our Senate budget debate and ultimately signed into law by Governor Baker. T troubles, while unwelcome, were not unpredicted.

Components of the MBTA Fiscal Control legislation include:
• Securing financial and performance stability of the MBTA;
• Implementing uniform budget and planning guidelines and procedures for all departments;
• Requiring the Inspector General to review service and procurement contracts;
• Executing capital budgets and borrowing authorizations to finance or refinance any debt;
• Maintaining authority to appoint, remove, supervise, and control all MBTA employees and personnel matters;
• Developing a long range plan for MBTA financial and structural sustainability; and
• Accountability measures including requiring the filing of a quarterly report to the House and Senate Committees on Ways and Means detailing revenues and expenses.

Years of news accounts, watchdog reports and independent audits have clearly documented what commuters know first-hand - the T has been riddled with dysfunction. We now have an opportunity to mandate that our state’s most significant transit agency function efficiently and effectively, this is the only way that we can get on the right track.

In fact, since being created, the Fiscal Management and Control Board is already at work confronting these challenges, identifying what’s wrong, and taking action to fix it.  To learn more about the work, meetings, minutes, plans, and to read their latest report click on the following link - MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board