Advocates Host ‘Call To Action’ As State House Ponders New Transportation Funds

The Massachusetts House of Representatives could approve a new transportation funding bill before the end of November.

The Massachusetts State House in downtown Boston.
The Massachusetts State House in downtown Boston.

The Transportation for Massachusetts coalition will host a “Call to Action” in the State House on Wednesday afternoon in anticipation of a major new state transportation funding bill that could face a vote in the House of Representatives as soon as next month.

According to a report from the State House News Service, House Speaker Robert DeLeo met on Monday with several key legislators, including House Majority Leader Ronald Mariano of Quincy, Ways and Means Chairman Aaron Michlewitz of Boston, Revenue Committee Co-chair Mark Cusack of Braintree, and Transportation Committee Co-Chair William Straus of Mattapoisett, to begin discussing new policies, taxes and fees that could fund the state’s struggling transportation systems.

The State House News Service also reported that Speaker DeLeo wants to have a transportation funding bill approved by the House before the Legislature recesses for the holidays on November 20.

That goal would give the House a tight three-week timeline for its members on the Transportation and Ways and Means committees to draft a bill, then shepherd it to approval from the full House of Representatives.

The “Call to Action” from Transportation for Massachusetts (T4MA) aims to connect advocates with legislators as that bill takes shape behind the scenes.

“It’s a pivotal time in the transportation finance and policy debate,” said Charlie Ticotsky, Policy Director for T4MA (Ticotsky also volunteers as a member of the StreetsblogMASS Board of Directors). “We hope that this event will be part of several leading up to the House debate in November, and we’re thrilled to have so many groups speaking out for the importance of transportation investments.”

Co-sponsoring organizations for the “Call to Action” include the Boston Cyclists Union, Environmental League of Massachusetts, League of Women Voters, LivableStreets, MassBike, MASSPIRG, MA Smart Growth Alliance, Transit Matters, and WalkBoston.

T4MA is advocating for five strategic policies to help the state fund transportation solutions in an equitable manner while also creating better incentives for Massachusetts residents to take more trips by public transit.

Those ideas include a proposed 25-cent increase to the state gas tax, implementation of the Transportation and Climate Initiative, which would establish a cap-and-trade system on greenhouse gas pollutants from motor vehicle fuels, and higher fees on Uber and Lyft rides, which constitute a significant source of regional traffic congestion.

The “Call to Action” event will begin at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday in Room 437 of the Massachusetts State House (that’s on the fourth floor, near the building’s Beacon Street entrance). Advocates are encouraged to RSVP at http://tinyurl.com/transpo-2019 if they plan to attend.

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