BOSTON- May 18, 2015 Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester), flanked by members of the Senate Republican Caucus, called for strong reforms of the ailing MBTA transit system at a State House press conference today.
Citing years of troubles stemming from lax fiscal controls and poor management practices, the entire membership of the State Senate Republican Caucus called on the Senate to adopt a package of reform measures in the budget debate which begins Tuesday.
“For years we have been calling for reform of the MBTA and now millions of T riders who were bitterly disappointed by a failing transit system know why,” said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester). “The many problems at the MBTA have been well documented by Governor Baker’s task force and others and they are well understood. The time is now for the Senate to take definitive action to address the dysfunction of the MBTA.”
The public’s unrest and anger with the MBTA accelerated as the tough winter exposed multiple failures within the beleaguered transit system. Assistant Minority Leader Robert Hedlund (R-Weymouth) a member of the Transportation Committee for more than two decades said, “We have seen many task forces and commissions formed to look at the finances and operation of the T, and this is the best chance to secure reform. I have not seen a greater push from the public, they want to see change.”
“This winter was an incredibly difficult one for commuters all across Massachusetts. The people of the Commonwealth have spoken and after all they have recently endured, what they need from their legislature is a constructive fix to the MBTA,” said Senator Richard Ross. “Another hard winter is just around the corner, and with it will come another nightmare for our commuters if we do not take real action and address systemic problems. The amendments filed to the FY16 budget by the Senate Republican Caucus aim to finally provide the public with solutions to these problems. Our constituents deserve no less. The time to act is now.”
“There are 351 towns in the Commonwealth, 14 of which I represent. This year the town of Douglas is giving out 16 pink slips, and the town of Oxford is giving out 50,” said Ryan Fattman, Assistant Minority Whip (R Webster). “By creating a fiscal control board, the MBTA would become subject to more fiscal accountability and transparency. I see this as a great opportunity to identify and stop unnecessary spending, by the MBTA, and return those tax-payer funds back to our cities and towns, allowing our local municipalities to regain much needed resources and invest in typically underfunded groups like teachers and police officers.”
Among the amendments being filed are those which would:
- Establish a fiscal 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,
- Engage the Inspector General in an MBTA audit,
- Subject the MBTA Retirement Fund to the public records laws, and
- Release the MBTA from the requirement of the Pacheco Law in order to secure greater cost savings.
Budget debate will begin Tuesday morning when the Senate will consider more than 900 proposals to the $38 billion state budget.