Today I wrote my opponent, State Rep. Colleen Garry, and asked her to take a public position on raising taxes or tolls for an MBTA bailout. The vote on this matter will occur after the election. Speaker DeLeo has stated that finding a long term solution to the T’s financial situation will be one of the first item taken up by the House in January. Rep. Garry’s constituents deserve to know before they vote where she stands on this issue.
The recent transfer of auto inspection fees and unused snow removal money to the MBTA does nothing to solve the agencies long term financial troubles. The T is expected to face a $100 million deficit next year. The MBTA is over $5 billion in debt. It has a maintenance backlog of $4 billion. The Sunday Globe reported that some trains are over 40 years old. A recent study of system congestion pointed out signals on sections of the Green line were installed in the 1920s.
There has been speculation that possible solutions are raising the gas tax, new tolls, or creating a vehicle mileage tax. There have been no discussions of changing the way the T does business or cutting costs. The only thing under consideration is reaching into taxpayer pockets to continue funding the status quo. The agency still has plans for several expansion projects. Just three of these- the Green and Blue line extensions along with building commuter rail to the South Coast will cost over $4 billion.
I believe the T should begin solving its budget mess by doing four things:
1. End all expansion plans for at least 5 years. Catch up with repairs to the current system before spreading out already thin resources.
2. The legislature should exempt the MBTA from the Pacheco Law.
Contracting out services is preferable to eliminating them.
3. Freeze all management hiring. Recently the T police hired three supervisors making over $100,000 per year. Announcing this the same week fares were increased an average of 23% shows how little MBTA management respects the riders.
4. No raises should be given to management. Unions should only receive raises for contracts that have already been ratified.
Rep. Garry is an 18 year incumbent that serves on the Ways and Means Committee. She has an opportunity to support the taxpayers by taking a public position against a tax increase to support the bad practices currently in place. Let’s debate the MBTA bailout before the election.