House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R- North Reading), Representative Steven S. Howitt (R-Seekonk), ranking Republican on the Joint Committee on Transportation, and Representative Peter Durant (R-Spencer) are joined by their House Republican colleagues in calling on House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo to request a public hearing for his soon-to-be-released transportation financing bill.
Speaker DeLeo’s pending transportation proposal, which comes on the heels of Governor Patrick’s plan of close to $2 billion in additional revenue, is being represented as a solution to the Commonwealth’s transportation needs. As is required with legislation filed in the Legislature, all bills must be heard and receive public testimony at a committee hearing; however, on occasion, major revisions to bills have often been forwarded to the full Legislature without the benefit of public comment.
“The transportation plan put forth by the Patrick Administration has been available to the public and the members to review, understand, and ask questions about for a considerable amount of time,” said Representative Jones. “I would hope that with the potential for massive tax increases looming, the Speaker would put his plan through a similar public test.”
Furthermore, members of the Republican Caucus are concerned that any procedural shortcuts will continue to cloud the public’s view of the institution.
“Whenever the Legislature asks the residents of Massachusetts for more of their hard earned tax dollars, the manner in which we do so needs to be open to the public,” said Representative Howitt. “If we, as legislators, can’t follow the process, there is no way the public will be able to follow the process.”
“The Speaker’s public uncertainty as to whether or not his transportation proposal will come from the Joint Committee on Transportation or from the House Committee on Ways and Means is proof for the need to conduct a public hearing,” said Representative Durant.
House Republicans have repeatedly stated that transportation is a core government function, and agree that there is a daunting problem looming before our transportation agencies. While the Republican Caucus will certainly disagree with the Democratic majority on the reliance that the state should place on targeted reforms, reductions, or revenues, the importance of transportation requires that any proposal to solve this problem should be put through the rigors of the public hearing process.