T control board leans toward new revenue
Only 1 of 5 members says no new taxes needed
A MAJORITY OF THE FIVE members of the MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board, all appointees of Gov. Charlie Baker, support the idea that the T needs more revenue.
They express it in different ways and their charge to the Legislature as it prepares to take up transportation taxes differs from person to person. But many of them see a need for additional revenue.
Board member Chrystal Kornegay said after Monday’s meeting of the control board that she and her colleagues are trying to make the T a world class system. “We certainly can’t do that with the resources we have today,” she said.
Efforts to follow up with her on specific recommendations she would have for the Legislature were unsuccessful. Her spokesman at MassHousing, where she serves as executive director, referred questions to the MBTA and the spokesman at the MBTA declined comment.
“Taxes is not a dirty word,” said Lang at a control board meeting in April. He said a number of revenue-raising measures (gas tax, congestion tolling, and fees on ride-hailing apps) could be used both to raise money for the T and incentivize people to stop driving their cars so much.
Joe Aiello, the chair of the control board, tried to work with his colleagues to come up with some form of unified position on new revenues, and Aiello, Lang, Tibbits-Nutt, and Kornegay appeared in sync at a board meeting in March. But it seems that plan has been abandoned. In an interview on the CommonWealth Codcast in early October, Aiello said the goal now is to lay out choices for the public and the Legislature.
“It’s certainly not our role to tell anyone that tolls ought to be raised or more tolls ought to be implemented on a mode we don’t control. That’s not how we view our role,” he said.
In terms of laying out choices, Aiello is pushing the board to take a position on the future shape of the commuter rail system at Monday’s meeting. He said that information, along with cost estimates, would be useful information for the Legislature as it deliberates. An advisory group last Monday recommended the most expansive of six commuter rail options, with the cost of that option totaling tens of billions of dollars over many years.
Aiello declined comment on taxes this week.The final member of the control board, Brian Shortsleeve, says new taxes are not needed.
“My view is that the tools and the money we need for the next few years are in the governor’s bond bill, which provides more than adequate funding for the early actions required to begin the process of commuter rail transformation,” said Shortsleeve, the T’s former chief administrator and general manager who current works in venture capital. “But without the statutory authorization for a commuter rail public-private partnership, commuter rail transformation won’t be possible. So the critical next step now on commuter rail transformation is public private partnership authorization by the Legislature.”