Senate bill proposes new oversight board for T
Would make transportation secretary an ex officio board member
THE SENATE IS PREPARING is preparing to take up legislation that would create a new, seven-member board to oversee the MBTA and appoint the general manager of the transit authority.
With the current Fiscal and Management Control Board set to sunset at the end of the month, the Senate proposal differs in several key respects from a proposal that was approved by the House in March. It is also closer to what Gov. Charlie Baker proposed in his budget for fiscal 2021.
The Senate proposal would create an MBTA Board of Directors with seven members – five appointed by the governor; one appointed by the MBTA Advisory Board, which represents cities and towns in the T’s service area, and the secretary of transportation as an ex officio member. The Senate proposal would take the power to appoint the T general manager away from the secretary of transportation and give it to the board. The bill also requires the newly constituted board to meet a minimum of 12 times a year and a maximum of 20.
The House proposal, which was included in a transportation funding bill approved by the chamber in March, also expanded the board to seven members, with five appointed by the governor, one by the city of Boston, and one by another municipality in the T’s service area. The House bill continued the current requirement that the board meet an average of three times a month and left the appointment of the general manager in the transportation secretary’s hands.
The Senate bill includes $300 million in so-called Chapter 90 funding for municipal bridge and road repairs, but it does not include any of the transportation taxes and fees approved by the House and it does not give the T the approval it is seeking to use bond funds to pay the salaries of employees working on capital projects.Boncore said his chamber remains committed to funding transportation initiatives but raising new revenues may have to wait until post-COVID. “We fully intend to make key investments we need to make across the Commonwealth,” he said.
As for the T’s request to use bond funds to pay salaries of some employees, Boncore said that issue may get addressed in an upcoming transportation bond bill.