Transportation Finance Successful Amendments

April 13, 2013                                             

Boston – The Senate voted this afternoon to pass two amendments, filed by Senator Richard J. Ross (R-Wrentham) to the transportation finance legislation. These amendments will increase transparency in Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) operations. The Senate deliberated over legislation which dedicates over $800 million in new funding to transportation throughout the Commonwealth. Senator Ross spoke in support of his amendments to the bill during the debate.

“By passing these amendments, the Senate has taken a step in the right direction toward improving transparency and accountability in the Commonwealth’s transportation system,” said Senator Ross. “It is my hope that by enacting efficient reforms now, we can prevent these problems from arising again in the future.”

Senator Ross amended the legislation by enhancing the bill’s requirement that the MassDOT board meet twice per year and keep a record of all meetings. His amendment mandates that the record of the MassDOT board meetings, including votes, be posted for public viewing on the MassDOT website within five days of each meeting. Making this information available to the public will increase accountability and facilitate a more open and transparent dialogue about policy. Following a roll call vote, the amendment passed unanimously.

The Senate also passed Senator Ross’ amendment seeking additional information regarding the employees’ whose salaries are paid through capital expenditures. While the legislation calls for a report to be filed by the Secretary of Transportation on the number of employees whose salaries are being paid through capital expenditures, additional information is needed to explain this problem. Senator Ross’ amendment demands the Secretary supplement that report with information regarding the work being performed by the employees being paid with capital expenditures.

Senator Ross was happy to support an amendment filed by Senator Michael Moore and Senator Katherine Clark calling for the Inspector General to conduct an investigation of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) fare collection policies and practices. The report will also include any recommendations to increase prevention and detection of fare evasion on the MBTA.

While Senator Ross was pleased to see these much needed reforms succeed, he was disappointed in the overall lack of reform in the Commonwealth’s transportation system as well as the unwarranted tax increases. Due to these deficiencies in the bill, he chose to vote against its passage.

Please contact the office of Senator Ross with any questions or concerns at (617) 722-1555 or Richard.Ross@masenate.gov.

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