MA House Speaker Outlines Position on Transportation Spending

Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo says he agrees with Governor Deval Patrick that the state should spend more on transportation. But he told the Greater Boston chamber of commerce the governor’s plan goes too far.

DeLeo told hundreds of businesspeople at the Chamber’s Park Plaza Hotel the governor’s proposal was courageous, but too ambitious.

“I believe it should be far more narrower in scope, and of a significantly smaller size. We seek to fund the priorities we need to, to enhance the economy, without creating any collateral damage.”

DeLeo says the House should propose a dedicated, user-based revenue source for new transportation funding. But he turned back audience questions about exactly how much new revenue is needed, or what mechanism should be used.

DeLeo did support three of the governor’s transportation priorities. He wants to end the borrowing that right now props up transportation department salaries and maintenance; add funding for Boston public transit in time to avert a looming fare increase; and make sure funding for public transit outside of Boston gets its due.

“As I travel around Massachusetts, what I hear continuously is the fact ‘Hey, we’re here too.’ This isn’t just about the ‘T,’ this isn’t just about Boston, this isn’t just about eastern Massachusetts.”

Transportation secretary Richard Davey says he was glad DeLeo agreed on broad priorities. He added, however, if the Legislature funds less than the governor has proposed, that would slow efforts to improve the system.