Rep. Driscoll Joins Progressive Caucus in Letter to State Senate Regarding Transportation Funding

June 29, 2020 Dear Senate President Spilka, Chair Rodrigues, and Members of the Massachusetts Senate: As members of the House Progressive Caucus, we write with both respect and with grave concern that the Massachusetts Senate has not yet taken up the progressive transportation revenue bill which the House passed in early March. The Legislature has an urgent responsibility to raise revenue for desperately needed investments in the Commonwealth’s crumbling transportation infrastructure. A strong investment in our transportation and infrastructure is vital to workers, our climate, and our economic recovery. The COVID-19 pandemic rightfully took transportation out of the spotlight it was in, back when the Greater Boston region was declared the most congested in the country, and a MassDOT study confirmed it as reaching a “tipping point.” However, despite the pandemic, our transportation and infrastructure challenges still remain and will not be solved without substantial investment.

The House passed a carefully balanced revenue package that includes raising corporate taxes and increased fees on ride-hailing services, coupled with a modest increase in the gas tax. Given the fact that gas prices fell an average of 65 cents a gallon between January and May, a 5 cent increase in the gas tax leaves the state’s gas prices well below where they stood when the House first voted.

The Commonwealth is now facing a staggering $6-7 billion revenue loss and the prospect of laying off thousands of teachers, social workers and human service workers if we cannot find a way to address this fiscal crisis. We must instead explore a menu of options including tapping the Rainy Day Fund, maximizing federal aid, raising targeted progressive revenue, and possibly even borrowing. Our argument to raise further progressive revenue is weakened because a previous tax vote that the House took to generate $600 million did not move forward in the Senate. The Commonwealth’s borrowing constraints and interest rate also stands to be negatively impacted without this $600 million in revenue.

As policymakers, it is on us to find creative answers to difficult questions. There is never a perfect time to pass a tax increase, but as elected officials, it is our duty to act boldly and in the best interest of our constituents. We respectfully urge the Senate to take the opportunity presented by the House and act on raising revenue needed to fund both our transportation needs, the investments we promised in education and the many needs that the Commonwealth faces as we work our way out of this public health and economic crisis.

We welcome the opportunity to work together on this issue that is vital to all of our communities.

Respectfully, Tricia Farley-Bouvier

3rd Berkshire Jack Patrick Lewis

7th Middlesex Andy X. Vargas

3rd Essex Christine Barber

34th Middlesex Natalie Blais

1st Franklin Peter Capano

11th Essex Michelle Ciccolo

15th Middlesex Mike Connolly

26th Middlesex Mike Day

31st Middlesex Marjorie Decker

25th Middlesex Mindy Domb

3rd Hampshire Bill Driscoll Jr.

7th Norfolk Nika Elugardo

15th Suffolk Denise Garlick

13th Norfolk Carmine Gentile

13th Middlesex Tami Gouveia

14th Middlesex James Hawkins

2nd Bristol Natalie Higgins

4th Worcester Kate Hogan

3rd Middlesex Mary Keefe

15th Worcester David LeBoeuf

17th Worcester Jay Livingstone

8th Suffolk Adrian Madaro

1st Suffolk Liz Malia

11th Suffolk Joan Meschino

3rd Plymouth

Christina Minnicucci

14th Essex

Tram Nguyen

18th Essex Sarah Peake

4th Barnstable Alice Peisch

14th Norfolk Denise Provost

27th Middlesex Dave Rogers

24th Middlesex

Lindsay Sabadosa

1st Hampshire

Jon Santiago

9th Suffolk Chynah Tyler

7th Suffolk Steven Ultrino

33rd Middlesex Aaron Vega

5th Hampden Tommy Vitolo

15th Norfolk

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© 2019 William Driscoll, Jr.