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Joining E2 is the most effective way to stay informed about cutting-edge environmental issues, leverage your professional network, and use your skills to influence important environmental policy issues.

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April 1, 2013
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MA business taxes in context of the rest of the nation  
The problem: how to fix a broken system
The Massachusetts' transportation system is crumbling and in disrepair -- endangering safety, the economy and our quality of life. The system has a crushing burden of debt with insufficient revenue to even maintain its current condition.  Nearly half of all bridges are either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.[1]  Our roads ranked 45th worst out of 50 states in 2010.[2]  Many MBTA vehicles dating from the 1970s and 80s are well beyond their useful life and must be replaced.  A typical driver in greater Boston spends 47 hours per year sitting in traffic. 

Governor Patrick has proposed a plan to raise $1.16 billion in new revenue to fund the debt; bring our roads and bridges to a state of good repair; update, modernize and expand our mass transit; and prepare for future capacity increases.   As the Massachusetts legislature considers its options, E2, working in conjunction with the T4Mass coalition, has mobilized E2 members in support of the Governor's plan. We have held meetings at the State House, sent an E2 letter  and fact sheet that was hand delivered to every member of the legislature; organized a phone campaign; and attended multiple meetings and hearings. Please use this link to contact your Massachusetts' state legislators and register your support for fully funding our transportation system. 

Fully funding transportation will NOT create an undue tax burden
In FY2011 Massachusetts' combined state and local business tax level ranked 40th lowest in the nation and our overall tax rate is below the national average[3]. Our taxes have declined 26% since 1977 – the 2nd largest decline of any state in the union.  In fact, cuts to the Massachusetts income tax in 1998 have reduced annual state revenue by ~$3 billion a year. 

Even after raising the required revenue, our tax rates would remain competitive with other states such as NY, NJ, CT, and CA. 

Transportation improvements are essential to reducing GHG pollution
In 2008, Massachusetts passed the Global Warming Solutions Act that requires the state to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) to 25% below 1990 levels by 2020.  Transportation is the largest and fastest growing emissions sector and accounts for 36% of the state's GHG emissions. Under the business as usual scenario, increases from transportation will wipe out all of the reductions from commercial and industrial energy efficiency. Without reductions in the transportation sector we will fail to meet our goals.

Reform is having an impact – but it is not enough
In 2009, the legislature passed a transportation reform bill that streamlined the transportation bureaucracy; combined separate agencies under the single authority of the Department of Transportation (MassDOT); eliminated overly generous benefits; and improved the credit rating of the transit agencies.  Later as a result of continuing shortfalls, transit agencies raised fares and reduced service to save money. As a result, reforms undertaken by MassDOT over the last three years have already saved more than $500 million.

A crushing level of debt
Transportation funding has been ignored for decades in the Commonwealth– paid for with high cost borrowing, quick fixes and accounting gimmicks. A 2007 bi-partisan Massachusetts Transportation Finance Commission found $15 to $19 billion funding gap over the next 20 years.[4]  The Governor's has requested $1.16B per year for the next 10 years. This represents the true cost of reducing our debt, bringing our statewide infrastructure into a "state of good repair" and accommodating increased capacity to ensure that our state's economy will continue to thrive.

Massachusetts has the highest percentage of transportation debt of any state in the union.[5]  In FY2012, 45% of the combined budgets of MassDOT and the MBTA budgets went to pay off debt, not to operate and maintain current systems, let alone expand them.  We are borrowing just to pay operating expenses. For every dollar spent, taxpayers will repay $1.76. Our children and grandchildren will pay for today's expenses.  A recent report[6] finds that failure to keep our state's highways in a state of good repair will cost the state between $17B and $26B dollars by 2030.  

Public transit fuels economic growth
Public transit plays an important role in making the state economically competitive by easing traffic congestion, providing convenient travel alternatives, contributing to cleaner air and lowering greenhouse gas emissions. Absent the ability to reliably move large numbers of specialized skilled labor within the urban economy on a daily basis such as that provided by public transit, Boston‘s economic potential is constrained. At a minimum, we support the following projects:

(1) Fix the South Station bottleneck
Boston South Station, the premier passenger rail hub in New England, has become a major bottleneck that is slowing service throughout the Northeast Corridor and beyond.  When South Station opened in 1899, it had 28 tracks. Today, with only 13 tracks, trains idle outside the station while they wait for other trains to vacate berths, causing maddening delays. South Station serves commuters and travelers on Amtrak, the MBTA Commuter Rail service, intercity bus systems, MBTA rapid transit, and MBTA bus rapid transit services, including direct service to Boston Logan International Airport.  At present, South Station operates well above its design capacity for efficient train operations and orderly passenger queuing, significantly constraining current and future rail mobility not only within Massachusetts but throughout New England.

(2) Extend the Green Line to underserved communities
This long delayed project will extend the MBTA Green Line from a relocated Lechmere Station in East Cambridge to Union Square in Somerville and College Avenue in Medford. It will greatly improve local and regional mobility; address longstanding transportation inequities; result in fewer automobiles on local roads; and help to combat greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution. The Green Line Extension will also support municipal plans for sustainable growth while leveraging many millions in private investment and providing residents of environmental justice communities with faster rides to jobs and other destinations.

(3) Address transportation inequity by building the South Coast Rail project
The South Coast Rail project will restore passenger rail transportation from South Station in Boston to the South Coast of Massachusetts, catalyzing nearly half a billion dollars in economic development every year.  The cities of Taunton, Fall River and New Bedford are the only cities within 50 miles of Boston that are not served by commuter rail.  This project will address long-standing transportation inequity by extending MBTA service to a region of the Commonwealth – and particularly to two urban areas with large immigrant and low-income populations – currently under-served by the existing transportation network.  It will enable residents of the South Coast to access jobs and services in the Boston area and allow Boston-area workers to more easily take advantage of affordable housing in the South Coast.

Decisions will be made in the next few weeks.  We encourage all Massachusetts E2 members and supporters to contact their state legislators to register their support for fully funding our transportation system.  You can find their email address and phone number here. 


[1] Staying on Track, Northeastern University Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy, November 2012; http://www.northeastern.edu/dukakiscenter/wp-content/uploads/Staying-on-Track-Plenary-Presentation-FINAL.pdf      

[2] Road Work Ahead: Holding Government Accountable for Fixing America's Crumbling Roads and Bridges; http://www.uspirg.org/sites/pirg/files/reports/Road-Work-Ahead.pdf

[3] Massachusetts Budget and Policy center, http://www.massbudget.org/reports.php?category=ALL

[4] Transportation Finance in Massachusetts: Volume 2
Building a Sustainable Transportation Financing System: September 2007,
http://www.masstaxpayers.org/sites/masstaxpayers.org/files/MassTFC2.pdf             

[5] Maxed Out: Massachusetts Transportation At A Financing Crossroad; http://www.t4ma.org/site/wp-content/uploads/Maxed-Out.pdf   

[6] The Cost of Doing Nothing: The Economic Case for Transportation Investment In Massachusetts; January 2013; The Boston Foundation and the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership; http://www.tbf.org/~/media/TBFOrg/Files/Reports/CostofDoingNothing_r1.pdf        




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