The Massachusetts House of Representatives has postponed until January its debate on how to overhaul the commonwealth’s transportation system.
House Speaker Robert DeLeo said Thursday that lawmakers initially planned to take up the transportation debate next week, but wanted more time to digest an enormously complex and contentious issue.
"…We decided that it's better that we try to get this right than to try to comply with, I guess you could say, a somewhat arbitrary deadline," DeLeo told State House News Service.
The Legislature is set to recess on Nov. 20 and resume formal sessions in January. While the House and Senate will continue to meet in informal sessions through December, anything that requires a roll call vote must wait.
Associated Industries of Massachusetts, which supports a reasoned, long-term approach built around Governor Charlie Baker’s $18 billion transportation bond bill, commended the House for its decision to push back the debate.
“We appreciate that the Speaker and his members are being thoughtful about this complex issue of transportation reform. Taking additional time to weigh all options is the best path forward for the Commonwealth,” said Brooke M. Thomson, Executive Vice President of Government Affairs at AIM.
“AIM will be working with House members as they continue to look at this issue.”
AIM and ist 3,500 member employers believe the first step to transportation reform must be to remove the structural impediments that prevent the Department of Transportation and the MBTA from spending the money that the taxpayers have already given them. Analysis of MBTA spending patterns reveals that budgeted capital expenditures have risen from less than $500 million in 2013 to $851 million in 2018, but the T still fell short of the $1.6 billion that was available in 2019.
AIM respectfully disagrees with those who support raising new revenue immediately through a gasoline or other tax for the transportation system. Raining money on a transportation system without updating outmoded procurement regulations and rules governing public-private partnerships is like putting brand-new rail cars on corroded 19th century tracks.
AIM is open to reducing transportation emissions by supporting the Transportation Climate Initiative (TCI), a regional collaboration of 12 Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states and the District of Columbia that seeks to improve transportation, develop the clean-energy economy and reduce carbon emissions from the transportation sector.