Mass. Transportation Plan Admirable, Funding Plan Abominable
First the good news. On Monday, Massachusetts governor Governor Deval Patrick unveiled an ambitious plan for reinvigorating "the state’s beleaguered transportation system," report Eric Moskowitz and Michael Levenson. "In a presentation earlier in the day at the University of Massachusetts Boston, Patrick unveiled what analysts and advocates considered perhaps the fullest accounting ever of the state’s transportation red ink, coupling plans to balance annual budgets with targeted spending on infrastructure, mostly to fix and modernize highway and transit systems."
In order to fund the $1.02 billion a year necessary to implement “The Way Forward” plan, Patrick identified a "menu" of potential funding sources from which he would select his preferred option in Wednesday's State of the Commonwealth address. The menu included, "[p]rogressive ideas from a vehicle miles traveled (VMT) tax to a 'green' fee would help align transportation costs with use and wear."
Now the let down. "[J]ust two days after outlining a menu of funding options, the Patrick administration proposed only raising income taxes to pay for repairs and improvements around the state," reports the blog Boston Streets.
Angie Schmitt summarizes Patrick’s proposal thus: "[It] doesn’t contain a vehicle miles traveled fee, which was endorsed by a state-appointed panel. Nor does it contain the tax on parking facilities that intrigued Governing Magazine. Instead, like Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell’s recent transportation funding proposal, the package doesn’t ask motorists to contribute anything. While he won’t be taking the extreme step of eliminating the state’s gas tax, as McDonnell wants to do, Patrick is going to pay for the state’s transportation needs by adding a new tax on productive work instead of driving."
Perhaps Patrick could learn something from Republican Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan, who this week proposed raising gas taxes to pay for his state's road repairs.