Baker proposes all-new MBTA board
Would include 7 members, meet 12 times a year
A correction has been added to this story.
GOV. CHARLIE BAKER is proposing to replace the existing five-member Fiscal and Management Control Board with a new seven-member board that would include the secretary of transportation and a representative of the municipalities that contribute revenue to the T.
The governor is also proposing that the new MBTA board meet a minimum of 12 times a year, far less than the 36 required under current law and three less than what the current board has recommended. (This sentence was corrected to clarify that the governor is proposing the board meet a minimum of 12 times a year.)
Some transit advocates have raised concerns about creating a new board at a time when so many projects at the agency are at sensitive planning stages. Indeed, several sources have said they believe Baker would like to start over from scratch because the existing board members, who were all appointed by him, have shown a high degree of independence recently, pushing individually for more revenues for the authority and pressing forward as a group with some projects resisted by the administration.
“This board has won the confidence of the public, the Legislature, the advocacy community, and the business community,” Aloisi said. “It just doesn’t make sense to change it.”
The current Fiscal and Management Control Board came into existence in 2015, in the wake of the snowstorms that shuttered the T for several days. The board is scheduled to go out of existence at the end of June. It’s widely credited with bringing greater transparency to the T’s operations, opening the agency to greater public input, and putting the T’s finances on sound footing.
As part of his fiscal 2021 budget proposal, which he released on Wednesday, Baker proposed the creation of an MBTA board that would consist of the state transportation secretary, who currently is Stephanie Pollack; the municipal representative, who would be appointed by the MBTA Advisory Board; and five volunteers who must include a safety expert, a rider, an expert in transportation operations, and an expert in finance.
As with the current board, members of the new MBTA board would not be paid. They would be allowed to serve up to two four-year terms and no more than four members could be from the same political party. At least two of the board members would also have to be members of the board of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.
Baker said he modeled the board on the panel used to govern the Massachusetts Port Authority, which operates the state’s airports and Boston’s port. His design also pays homage to some recommendations of an independent safety panel, which urged the inclusion of a safety expert and fewer meetings. The safety panel said meeting three times a month prevented managers from doing their regular jobs.In the past, lawmakers have often not agreed on a final version of the state budget until right around the July 30 end of the fiscal year, if not later. That raises the possibility that the new board might not be in place before the FMCB dissolves.
Asked about that concern, Baker said the budget usually reaches his desk around June 30, and he will be surprised if that does not occur this year.