Much of the current focus on transportation policy is at MassDOT and the MBTA, with the consideration of the 5-year plan to invest in transportation projects. But this week, the House of Representatives will consider its Fiscal Year 2017 budget with many line items and amendments that will affect transportation across the state. (We will update this page as the week continues)
Here, at the start of "House Budget Week," we take a look at some of the transportation-related amendments that have been filed. In total there are 1307 amendments that the House will adopt, modify, or reject, over the course of the next 3-4 days. Amendments can adjust funding levels and may also make legislative policy changes.
Both the Governor's proposed budget and the initial House budget would cut regional transit authorities (RTAs) by $2 million. Amendment 580 (Rep. Peake) would increase the appropriation to RTAs to keep up with inflation. We strongly support this amendment. Update: the House adopted a $1 million increase, which still falls $1 million short of the FY16 level.
Complete Streets are designed for all users, and the Complete Streets Program at MassDOT is an exciting funding opportunity for cities and towns. In order to ensure that this program is effective and available to a broad number of cities and towns, T4MA and MassDOT are supporting tweaks to the legislation that created this program. These changes have been filed as Amendment 402 (Rep. Straus).
T4MA supports these three amendments that would enact policy changes:
- Amendment 309 (Rep. Cullinane) would reform municipal parking regulations to give cities and towns more options to manage their public parking, including establishing "parking benefit districts." This language mirrors Senate Bill 1094 / House Bill 1855.
- Amendment 421 (Rep. Straus) would ask MassDOT to perform a system assessment of its needs and currently available resources. This language reflects S1857 / H3100.
- Amendment 1305 (Rep. Straus) would further enable value capture strategies in the Commonwealth, the language of H3877.
Bike/Ped Safety and Connectivity
T4MA is generally very supportive of enhancing bicycle and pedestrian safety and connectivity. These three amendments promote those goals:
- Amendment 35 (Rep. Crighton) would enable MassBike (one of our members) to study ways to enhance bicycle connectivity to public transit in Gateway Cities.
- Amendment 892 (Rep. Rogers) would protect "vulnerable road users," the same as S1807/H3073.
- Amendment 894 (Rep. Rogers) would put in place a statewide ban on parking in bicycle lanes. This language is the same as S1808/H3072.
Update: An amendment filed by Rep. Hecht was adopted that would require the RMV to always include at least one question regarding safely sharing the road with cyclists and pedestrians in written drivers' exams.
Our coalition supports strategies to enhance resilience and adaptation in the face of the impacts of climate change on transportation, and Amendment 863 (Rep. Smizik) would appropriate $300,000 toward this effort in transportation and other sectors. Update: The House adtoped language to appropriate $150,000 for this effort.
Additional important transportation amendments
Several other amendments relative to transportation were filed by representatives:
- MassDOT's outdoor advertising practices continues to be a hot topic for legislators. Three amendments were filed on this topic: Amendment 438 (Rep. Jones), Amendment 700 (Rep. Hunt), and Amendment 1108 (Rep. Gregoire).
- Amendment 1165 (Rep. Kocot) would establish a working study group on high-speed-rail to Western Massachusetts, a worthy goal of many across the state. Update: This language was adopted.
- Both the Governor's and the House's proposed budget would eliminate a provision that requires the MBTA to send its final budget to the MBTA Advisory Board (a T4MA member) by April 15 of each year. Amendment 1183 (Rep. Smizik) would strike that provision, restoring the requirement.
- Amendments 1218 and 1221 (Rep. O'Connell) would require an audit and public disclosure at the MBTA Retirement Fund.
- Finally, we are following Amendment 928 (Rep. Pignatelli), which would allow tolls collected on the Turnpike to be used on any state highway west of Route 128. These tolls currently support the Turnpike only.
If you have questions about anything related to the state budget, please contact T4MA's Policy Director Charlie Ticotsky.