Friday, June 19, 2009

Transportation Reform at State House.... is it enough?

The long awaited Transportation Package, in it's 175 page length has been approved by the Senate and is off to Devals desk. At the very same time, a group of BU students discovers flagrant campaign violations where Deval is paying for travel for his wife for non political reasons. He just can't seem to stay out of the media spotlight for a week.

The vote in the Senate reflects a distention 27 - 11 (The House voted 130 - 25) among who is not clear, except for Senator Spilka. I can't wait to see who else voted against it. Pike Board member Mary Connaughton has raised some concerns about exactly how will the big dig debt be paid, now that the State is raising the sales tax and dedicating millions to the Big Dig, it falls short, now and in the future. Even with a gas tax increase I don't see the tolls coming down in my life time.

A few key measures are still not in play but it is refreshing to see that Senator Spilka welcomes the idea of tolls on 93 and 95. In their defense, to study 175 pages of anything as important as transportation reform in less than a day is one reason to question the whole package. If an attorney (Senator Spilka) has trouble digesting the bill, one can only imagine how hard it would be for most of the elected elite to interrupt.

The budget includes a series of tax increase in everything from satellite TV to alcohol, decreases local aid by 15%, eliminate 50 line items, (no word on which ones) and funding for 800 local projects. And still no pay reduction for the Legislature. What wasn't taken off the books was the funding of the Quinn Bill... it now gets 10 million for current employees, but doesn't fund any new hires. Locals will be able to add to the meals and hotel tax to make up for the 15% shortfall in revenue.

In the next 10 days, after all is said and done in secret, we will be faced with the reality of what has already been decided. I am still predicting, a gas tax increase and or a toll increase, if not now, before the end of this year, when it will become clear as a bell, raising a sales tax now is bad for the economy and the revenue projections will be far less than they predicted.

9 Comments:

At June 19, 2009 at 1:45 PM , Blogger Brian V. said...

Cut 15 line items, that is one of the things I would like more information on. Cut funding for 800 local projects? What could they cut out of budgets we were already told were at the bare minimum? Cut by 15% local aid? What is Framingham going to lose because of these things? I know we need to think globally, but right now, I need to know what services I am going to lose, are my kids schools going to be so underfunded they can not effectively teach my kids, are we going to have no street plowing next winter, or bigger potholes because we have no money to fix them? Jim, can you be an advocate and get the answers to these type questions for us on the local level? They never give us this information, and you have a better shot of getting an honest response from them than any of us do. Richardson should be holding open meetings on several dates and times for people to be able to get there at their convenience, not hers, and she should be informing us about what is going on.

 
At June 19, 2009 at 2:11 PM , Blogger James said...

Spilka favors tolls on 93? Well its about time. Do the other legislators from metro-west agree with her? If not, I would be interested in knowing why. Specifically what is Richardson’s position on this?

 
At June 19, 2009 at 2:59 PM , Blogger Jerry G. said...

Transportation reform? How about a complete new package, one that does not include inequitable tolls that fund huge overruns and mistakes on the big dig without consequences to the people who mismanaged that project. And why is everything done behind closed doors? What is the big secret here? They are spending our money, shouldn’t we get to know how they decide what to spend it on. As for Patrick paying for his wife’s travel with state money, I consider that being a thief, a felony thief, and that means he has no business being the governor. I say we impeach him. Seriously, one thing to be useless, completely different to be doing damage, and I believe he has crossed that line and is now hurting us.

 
At June 19, 2009 at 3:22 PM , Blogger Jamie said...

We need to stop complaining, and start doing. The time to start a grass roots effort to change things at the state house is now, not in Sept. 2010 when elections are just weeks away. You see everywhere people talking about this, and saying it needs to get done, and everyone agrees with that. But no one is doing anything constructive about making this happen. We need someone to organize this, and I don’t mean a candidate, they have enough to do. We need someone to organize the people who will then work to get the candidates like Jim elected. Come on people, lets get going on this. Anyone ready to step up and help get this ball rolling?

 
At June 19, 2009 at 4:40 PM , Blogger Arnold said...

Keep up the good work here Pillsbury. Don’t know how you find all this stuff out or how you have the time to put it all together on this blog but do know your efforts are appreciated by those of us who found this blog. Thanks again for all you are doing.

 
At June 19, 2009 at 4:56 PM , Blogger Linda and George said...

Jamie is right in what he states here, we need to start thinking about the plan for 2010 now. The future waits for no one, and if we don’t plan for the future, it is going to be here before we are ready for it. I see lots of these groups claiming they are working on a plan for taking over the state house in 2010, but none of them impress us as being realistic. Don’t kid yourself, no matter how bad things are we are still going to be battling the democratic machine in this state, and that is one huge machine. Last minute planning will mean we lose the best chance we have had of turning things around in this state. Summer is never a good time to get people on board to start a new process, but we have to be ready to roll come Labor Day and get people who are going to challenge the incumbents, like you Jim hoperfully, out there talking to people and making a strong case for challenging the system. And that takes work and planning.

 
At June 19, 2009 at 5:18 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with Brian. What can you find out for us Pillsbury?

 
At June 20, 2009 at 11:02 AM , Blogger Jim Pillsbury said...

Deval has 10 days or so to approve, reject or change the bill. Until then, I can only guess what will happen. My guess... some things will changed or modified, like the Quinn Bill and that 10 million that was approved will go away.

I should be able to get more intell on what is being cut and how much in the next week or so.

There are still some major components in the bill that are reasons for concern, not this year, but the next few years. They still need new revenue sources for the Big Dig dept, which I believe will have to come from gas tax increase and or toll increases. The bill does say, tolls on 93 and 95 could happen, but removing the tolls on the Pike would only happen AFTER all the debt is paid for.... I won't live that long

Pam was not present to vote on Thursday, she cited a family event as the reason. So where she stands on anything to do with transportation reform is left up in the air. She did say in the paper, she liked the fast lane discount program being left in, but said, "She would have liked to see tolls completely eliminated".

She may be the only person in the Commonwealth that thinks the tolls are going away.

 
At June 20, 2009 at 11:15 AM , Blogger Jim Pillsbury said...

Linda/George

How true that is.. .it's all in the plan.
We have another few weeks of Beacon Hill madness to contend with and the resulting fallout will be felt by all of us later this summer and even those who have kept their heads in the sand will take more stock in their roles as voters.
We do have a few more scandals on the horizon, a few more indictments and of coarse, a few trials, and huge tax increases that will shake the collective confidence in the one party rule.

The move to oust a majority of them is well under way and I do believe, voters will have choices in 2010 across the State.

As my father used to say, give them enough rope and they'll hang themselves...

 

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