---- — To the editor:
Gov. Deval Patrick is pulling out all the stops. He is threatening legislators with not funding local transportation projects and predicting of a collapse of our transportation system in order to get support for a very large income tax increase.
What the governor does not publicize is that his tax increase would raise taxes substantially on families making more than $50,000 per year. He also does not mention that our national bond rating agencies disapprove of this steep increase, which could cost us millions of dollars in unnecessary spending. Additionally, the governor wants to us to invest millions in new transportation projects when we cannot afford to maintain our roads and bridges and current public transportation systems.
The Legislature’s transportation finance reform package, the other choice before us, is the better option for the Merrimack Valley because it recognizes and addresses the following:
For us to continue to attract investment and jobs, we need to reform our transportation system.
Taxpayer transportation dollars appropriated by the Legislature need to go to transportation infrastucture repair and improvement – not to pay interest on transportation debt and personnel costs, as is currently the case.
We must fix the infrastructure that we have now before building new infrastructure which we can not afford to maintain.
The manner in which we finance transportation in the commonwealth needs to change. Transportation funding needs to be distributed more equitably throughout the commonwealth. It is currently too Boston-centric. Users of different systems need to contribute more directly (including business); revenue sources need to be more predictable long-term.
Although the Legislature has taken direct action to prohibit excessive salaries, pensions and medical benefits for MBTA employees, more needs to be done. Also, our regional transit authorities need to be required to conduct a thorough analysis to improve service and cut costs. It is my observation that it is routine to see MVRTA buses in the Merrimack Valley that have only a few people in them.
As the business community has correctly pointed out, doing nothing is not an option if we wish to grow our economy and create more jobs. Although not entirely to my liking, the finance reform package that the Legislature has put forward takes action on all these measures with a very modest increase in the gas tax. It is estimated that the gas tax increase will cost the average driver, at most, an additional $30 per year and will not put us at any competitive disadvantage regionally within New England. The reason this legislation is prudent at this time is that it will require reform and allow more of your tax money to be spent on transportation as opposed to debt service.
State Rep. Linda Campbell