Friday, April 10, 2009

Peterson: Major Reforms in House Transportation Bill

Assistant Minority Leader George N. Peterson, Jr. released the following statement in regard to the passing of the Transportation Reform bill.

The House took tremendous steps last night in reforming what has been a very inefficient transportation system. The Legislature is often criticized for being all talk and no action; however, nothing could be further from the truth in last night’s showing of true bipartisanship.

The bill passed last night will dissolve the Turnpike Authority, transfer MBTA employees over to the GIC for health care and eliminate the so called 23 and out rule that currently allows MBTA workers to retire with full pensions at a very young age. These reforms combined with a number of others is expected to save the Commonwealth anywhere between $2 and $4 billion over the next twenty years.

Additionally, I am very proud of one specific GOP amendment offered in the House last night that will allow the state to pay Mass Highway employees through the state’s operating budget. Currently, the salaries of those employees are paid using borrowed money, a practice that even the Governor has called a “budgeting gimmick.” This particular amendment will likely save Massachusetts upwards of $500 million.

There is a time and a place for partisan politics, and last night’s transportation debate was neither. I hope the efforts of the House will go a long way in restoring the public’s confidence in its elected officials.