Sunday, April 14, 2013

Rep. Basile extends support to remake transportation finance

From the office of State Representative Carlo Basile.

(BOSTON) – State Representative Carlo P. Basile joined his colleagues in the Massachusetts House of Representatives yesterday in passing a plan to fix long-standing financial problems within the state’s transportation system.

The bill was part of a joint legislative package announced by House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D-Winthrop) and Senate President Therese Murray (D-Plymouth) earlier this month. It sets in motion significant changes to make the transportation system more efficient and accountable, and, recognizing the need for adequate funding, relies upon a carefully-targeted $500 million financing plan. By realigning transportation revenue to support the Transportation Fund, the plan closely ties transportation funding to needs.

“A healthy transportation system allows us to keep and grow jobs in Massachusetts,” Speaker DeLeo said. “Yesterday’s House vote for a carefully calibrated revenue package enables us to fund our transportation system without placing excessive burden on taxpayers. With this vote, we address the needs of businesses and commuters who rely upon our transportation system in a way that encourages economic growth while minimizing the pain on families and employers. It also helps maintain our strong financial standing, which lowers our borrowing costs when they arise.”

“Our joint transportation package addresses the issue thoughtfully and efficiently,” said Representative Brian S. Dempsey, House Chair of the Joint Committee on Ways & Means (D-Haverhill.). “We recognize the integral role that the Commonwealth’s transportation system plays in the expansion or our economy and in our residents’ quality of life.  As a result, our bill makes targeted, statewide investments while addressing the inefficiencies of our current system.”

 “This bill presents a balanced and realistic approach for sustaining our state’s transportation system while also providing the resources for expanded future capital improvements,” said Representative William Straus (D-Mattapoisett), House Chair of the Joint Committee on Transportation.  “This joint legislative proposal provides added reforms and revenues to help meet our need for a modern and safe transportation network in Massachusetts.”

“Thanks to the efforts of Speaker DeLeo and my House Collegues, we now have a means of preserving and improving our transportation system that is critical to the lives of so many people in the Commonwealth,” Carlo P. Basile (D - East Boston) House Chairman of the Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs said. “Now, with a $500 million dollar financing plan, we can reform our transportation system making it safer and more efficient with little burden on taxpayers.”

The plan includes the following reforms to our transportation system:

* Moves Employees off of the Capital Budget over 3 years; 

* Provides forward funding for Regional Transit Authorities;

* Generates Revenue to Cover a Capital Plan;

* Gives MassDOT and the RTAs a long term plan to rely on;

The plan relies upon the following revenue items to finance the funding gap:

* A 3 cent increase to the gas tax (indexed with delay ) to help pay for road and bridges ($110 million);
* $1-per-pack increase on the tobacco excise tax  ($165 million);

* Modernizes the tax code on canned software to include modifications to software and computer system planning and design   ($161 million);

* Changes to the tax status of utility companies ($83 million).

The bill now moves to the Senate.