BOSTON – Senator Michael O. Moore (D-Millbury) announced that during yesterday’s Fiscal Year 2016 (FY16) budget debate, the Massachusetts State Senate unanimously adopted a bipartisan amendment creating an MBTA Fiscal Management and Control Board (FMCB). The amendment is in response to the failures of the public transit system this past winter, and other long-term issues with the public transit system.
The Tarr-McGee amendment creates a direct line of accountability from the MBTA to the Governor’s office without creating additional bureaucracy. The FMCB will consist of five members, three of whom will also be members of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) Board, including the Secretary of Transportation or her designee.
“This is an important step in the process to reforming the MBTA so residents can count on a reliable and efficient public transit system. This past winter illustrated the vital importance of the MBTA to businesses and residents alike,” said Senate President Stan Rosenberg (D-Amherst). “In addition to this bipartisan effort, I look forward to the work of the Transportation Committee on the MBTA.”
“One of the most important things that the Senate can do in this budget is provide a major reform package that comports with the framework of the plan offered by Governor Baker and restores confidence from an exasperated public,” said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester). “The bi-partisan support for MBTA reform affirms that we are ready and willing to bring accountability to a dysfunctional system and give riders, taxpayers and the public the mass transit system they need and deserve.”
“I am proud to be an initial co-sponsor of this measure and recognize the importance of including MBTA reforms within the Senate budget,” said Sen. Moore. “We have witnessed the failures of our Commonwealth’s primary public transit system and must ensure that steps are taken to get the system back on track. Central Massachusetts taxpayers have helped subsidize a failing system for far too long.”
During a 2012 debate, Sen. Moore joined a bi-partisan group of nine senators to oppose a $51 million bailout for the MBTA. The Senator also co-sponsored an amendment during the debate to impose a similar financial control board with complete control over the finances and operations of the MBTA for three years. The amendment also would have made the $51 million appropriation into an 8-year loan. Despite bi-partisan support, the amendment was defeated 26-9.
The FMCB has an initial three year authorization with an option for an additional two years. The amendment mandates the board to meet at least three times a month, with each meeting subject to Massachusetts Open Meeting Laws. The authorization to raise fares under current law (which allows a 5% increase every two years) will be placed under FMCB control, rather than the MassDOT board.
Finally, the FMCB must make monthly reports to the Secretary of Transportation on implementing the necessary changes to fix the MBTA, avoid future breakdowns, and put the system on firm financial footing.