Rep. Linda Dean Campbell of the 15th Essex District, (Methuen and Haverhill) has posted her position on the upcoming transportation finance bill scheduled for a vote this coming Monday in the House on her Facebook Page. Her statement, expressing support for the Legislative revenue package of $500 million, but opposition to the Governor’s larger package, is below. The Speaker picks up an important vote for his tax package, as well as for his coming attempt to override the promised veto of that package, by Governor Patrick.
Dear Citizens and Elected and Appointed Officials of the 15th Essex District,
As you are aware, I will soon need to choose between a transportation proposal put forth by the House and the Senate, or a plan put forth by the Governor Patrick. To vote for the Governor’s plan, I believe is clearly not in the best interest of my district. To vote against the Legislative plan would jeopardize millions of dollars in transportation projects needed for our district.
Equally important to these considerations is the input that taxpayers in my District and have provided to me, along with those from across the state at hearings I attended in my capacity as a member of the committee on Ways and Means. I thank all of you for being part of this debate.
As a result of these conversations, and as a result my research to date, I have concluded:
For us to continue to attract investment and jobs, we need to reform our transportation system and improve our transportation infrastructure.
We must fix the infrastructure that we have now before building new infrastructure which we could not afford to maintain.
The manner in which we finance transportation in the Commonwealth needs to change. In this regard:
– Users of different systems need to contribute more directly.
-Transportation funding needs to be distributed more equitably throughout the Commonwealth. It is too Boston centric.
-Currently, too much of the taxpayer dollars that the legislature allocates for transportation is being utilized to pay interest on transportation debt and personnel costs, as opposed to transportation infrastructure repair and improvement.
The Governor’s proposal to raise the income tax substantially at this time would damage our bond rating. The Governor’s proposal to build new infrastructure that we cannot afford to build or maintain at this time is not a fiscally responsible option.
We need to establish sources of Revenue for transportation that will be reliable and 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.
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 buses in the Merrimack Valley that have only a few people in them.
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 $30.00 per year and will not put us at any competitive disadvantage regionally within New England. The reason this increase is prudent at this time is that it will allow more of your tax money to be spent on transportation as opposed to debt service.
Please continue to provide me with your views, they are very important, and counter the narrow interests of lobbying groups.