Mark Fisher on Transportation and Smart Growth

Transportation for Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance invited all candidates for governor to complete a questionnaire on important issues that will require leadership from the next governor.


1. What are your transportation investment priorities across the commonwealth?

Mark Fisher: Maintaining and repairing our roads and bridges are what MA citizens expect their government to provide. I propose that we invest heavily in this area before we consider any new projects. Let’s stabilize our current infrastructure before we attempt to build on it. Once we get our roads and bridges back in shape and create a feasible program to maintain them going forward, then we can begin a discussion about future needs. Our current transportation needs are job 1!

2. The Transportation Finance Act, passed in 2013, dedicates an average of $600M a year in new transportation revenue to our transportation system through FY18. Experts such as the bipartisan Transportation Finance Commission estimate that we need double this level of investment to bring our transportation system into a state of good repair, nevermind making the capacity improvements needed to support future economic development. How would you, as Governor, work to ensure adequate and stable funding to meet our needs?

Mark Fisher: As President Kennedy reminded us, increased revenues come through a reduction in taxes. My proposals to reduce the sales and income taxes to 5%, as we were promised, will give citizens more money to stimulate the economy and increase state revenues. Additionally, my 4 point program to make MA business friendly will increase the payrolls and further increase state revenues.

3. Do you support the commonwealth’s mode-shift goal to triple the number of trips made by biking, walking and public transit by 2030? If so, what will you do to help the state meet this goal? If not, what are your suggestions to increase trips by public transportation, biking and walking?

Mark Fisher: The mode of transportation should be left to the choice of individuals. My goal is to stabilize our current infrastructure. Once that big task is accomplished and a plan is put in place to maintain it we can have a discussion about a “mode-shift”.

4. Public transportation investments and development around transit stations are critical to the growth of Massachusetts. But an often unwanted side-effect of gentrification is displacement of long-time residents. What policies would you implement to help minimize displacement, especially of low-income and disabled residents?

Mark Fisher: Local communities need to be onboard with any proposed transportation growth. Let’s get their input before we “impose” anything. This has been my stance on the South Coast Rail. We need to know that the majority of citizens affected by a project are actually in favor of it.

5. What steps will you take as Governor to reduce greenhouse gases from transportation sector and through smart growth to reach the greenhouse gas emission reduction targets required in the Global Warming Solutions Act?

Mark Fisher: Please visit www.isthereglobalwarming.com. There has been no measurable global warming for the past 17 years! We need to base decisions on facts, not on politicized opinions that ignore the facts. I would be a strong proponent for a robust discussion on this issue.

6. To make Massachusetts more livable and successful, we would encourage the next Governor to break down agency “silos” and organize her or his cabinet to collaboratively establish and achieve economic, housing, transportation, environmental, public health and climate goals. How would you organize the executive branch to achieve these cross-cutting goals?

Mark Fisher: Communication within any organization is key to its success. I am an advocate for flat organizations without the multi-levels of supervision. As an example, there would be no need for spokespersons at any level of my Administration. The head of each agency needs to know what is going on and to speak clearly to the media about it.

7. Do you support the commonwealth’s goal of building 10,000 new units of multi-family housing each year? If so, how will you accelerate the state’s work to encourage new housing? How will you ensure that this housing doesn’t contribute to sprawl? If you do not support this goal, what are your plans to meet our housing needs in the coming years?

Mark Fisher: By eliminating the reward of benefits to illegal immigrants who break the law we will encourage their self-deportation to other sanctuary states. The reduction of 220,000 illegal immigrations in the state will reduce the demand for multi-family housing. Once this is accomplished we can reassess our housing needs.

8. What reforms would you like to see to the commonwealth’s outdated planning and zoning laws? How would your administration encourage or incentivize municipalities to plan for future growth and development and then update their regulations to allow for that to occur?

Mark Fisher: Let’s have local communities decide their own futures. They know what’s best for themselves. If a proposal of theirs would require State approval I would gladly consider it, but I am against imposing a top-down solution on local communities.

9. In Massachusetts, 1 in 8 households do not have a car. People living in these households depend on public transportation. In certain parts of Boston and other cities, there are only limited public transportation options, and this is particularly true in many of the commonwealth’s low-income communities. In rural communities, residents often have such limited public transportation service that people, especially seniors, are housebound. What would you do to try to address these mobility needs? How will you start to prepare for the very significant growth in the transportation needs of seniors?

Mark Fisher: Public transportation needs to be affordable for seniors. I would review the current expenses associated with Public transit and make our findings available to the public. I believe the outcry over the waste in the system would be a great stimulus for much needed reform. For example, we know that the minimal skill job of a toll taker earns them $130,000 per year with overtime. This is what happens when Government is more concerned with patronage jobs than it is with the service it is expected to provide to its citizens.

10. As Massachusetts has developed over the last 60 years, our homes and jobs have sprawled further and further apart. We have lost farmland, forests and other natural areas. What are your goals as Governor to protect and preserve land?

Mark Fisher: At the state level I would do all I could as Governor to maintain our current open space. On a local level I would encourage communities to do the same, bearing in mind that they are the best judges of their particular, local needs.