Mass. House Speaker Supports Governors Education, Transportation Goals, Not the Price Tag

House Speaker Robert DeLeo says he agrees with Governor Deval Patrick that the state should spend more on transportation and education. But DeLeo also says the governor’s plan goes too far.

In a speech before the Greater Boston chamber of commerce Speaker DeLeo told hundreds of businesspeople that Governor Patrick’s proposal is courageous, but too ambitious.

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

DeLeo touched on education issues, specifying improved remedial math and science programs at the state’s community colleges should be a priority.

But he offered the most details on transportation plans. DeLeo said the House should propose a dedicated, user-based revenue source for new transportation funding. He avoided specifics, but many businesspeople at the breakfast appeared to be primed for DeLeo’s message.

“Transportation, the conversation has been building for years,” said Michael Widmer of the business-backed Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation.

“The public never likes new taxes of course, but I think there’s greater and greater understanding that we have this major problem in transportation.”

DeLeo does support three of the governor’s transportation priorities. He wants to end the borrowing that currently props up transportation department salaries and maintenance; he wants to add funding for Boston public transit in time to avert possible fare increases; and he wants to make sure that 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 waspleased DeLeo agreed on broad priorities. He added, however, if the Legislature funds less than the governor has proposed, that could slow efforts to improve the system.