Beacon Hill takes another look at regional transportation funding

The Gateway Cities Journal

The Gateway Cities Caucus met on Thursday to review budget priorities. Click to read more.

Gateway City leaders testified at a State House hearing this week in favor of legislation to give voters the option to raise funds for local transportation projects through dedicated taxes. The bill, which is sponsored by Gateway Cities caucus co-chair Senator Eric Lesser, mirrors legislation championed by former caucus co-chair Senator Ben Downing. Senator Downing’s bill passed the Senate last session, but did not emerge from the House.

Polls consistently show that a vast majority of voters in Massachusetts want the ability to decide which transportation project are important to their regions and raise local taxes to pay for them. The record in other states shows that when voters have a choice to support well-conceived projects, they opt for investment in their communities. As federal infrastructure funding has declined, all across the country, our competitors have kept their economies moving with regional transportation investments approved by voters through ballot initiative.

MPG President Steve Koczela testifies about public support for regional ballot initiatives to fund transportation projects in Massachusetts. Click to read more.

Gateway Cities have struggled to reinvent themselves for a new economy largely because their hands are tied by the state. Their ability to raise revenue to support long-term investments is extremely limited. Our capacity to even envision such projects has waned, as the prevailing culture has become one of “there’s no money.” Even with the state’s leading economists noting that deferred investment in transportation infrastructure is taking a heavy toll on regional economic growth in Massachusetts, beyond meeting core MBTA concerns, we are short on resolve to find the means to act.

At a State House forum with municipal leaders last year, Mayor Driscoll made the case plain and simple: “There’s just a whole lot of good that can come from having resources to meet our transportation needs, and this bill would unlock some of that, in places that want it.” Enough said. 

-Ben Forman


Gateway City educators gathered Wednesday for the third annual MA Institute for College and Career Readiness. Click to read more.


Housing and Economic Development

Brockton Mayor Bill Carpenter host a “developer’s tour.”

CommonWealth profiles Holyoke Mayor Alex Morseand his efforts to develop a marijuana industry.

Twin River Worldwide Holdings is doing site prep and seeking regulatory approvals for a casino just across the Massachusetts border from Fall River 

Haverhill sets out to become a Prospect City.

New Bedford unveils a $5 million plan to update the Elm Street Parking Garage.

Worcester’s Midtown Mall is holding back the city’s renaissance, officials say. (MassLive)

Snapchef open a new culinary staffing agency in downtown Springfield.

CRRC’s new plant in Springfield to build subway cars is likely to get more work and more workers as the company signs deals with Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and possibly New York City.

The Baker administration is preparing to put MassDevelopment in charge of the state pier in New Bedford.

Governing says young Americans are moving to more diverse places and older Americans are heading to less diverse locations.

The Urban Institute releases a new report on CDBG funding and its impact on cities that need it most.

 Education

Gateway City educators gather for the third annual Massachusetts Institute of College and Career Readiness.

State officials give New Bedford educators positive marks for their turnaround efforts.

Teachers and principals from New Bedford‘s three middle schools present educational redesign plans to the School Committee.

Commonwealth looks at whether vocational schools are shutting out Gateway City students who might need them most.

The Sentinel & Enterprise calls for increasing emphasis on financial literacy in Gateway Cities.

Lawmakers say a state formula miscalculates education costs by $1 billion.

Governance/Elections/Environment/Transportation

 Worcester City Councilor Tony Economou will not seek re-election, leaving Gerardo Schiano as the only person to have pulled papers.

The Salem City Council votes 7-4 to give approval to a Sanctuary for Peace proposal.

Haverhill approves a waste (cow manure/food scraps) to energy digester at Crescent Farm in Bradford.

The Pittsfield Municipal Airport, after years of red ink, is showing signs that it may be close to profitability.

 

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