Resolution Calling for Solutions to the Transportation Finance Crisis (2013)

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As adopted by the members on January 26, 2013.

Whereas, a modern and fully functioning transportation system is essential for economic competitiveness, growth and a high quality of life in Massachusetts, ensuring productive and efficient commerce for all businesses, and safe and efficient travel for individuals and families across the Commonwealth;

Whereas, investments in public roads, bridges and transit are essential to prevent a decline in competitiveness, to ensure public safety, and to preserve the quality of life in Massachusetts;

Whereas, transportation construction investments are a vital source of employment and economic benefits, with estimates by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association showing that every $1 billion spent by federal, state and local governments creates or supports 27,832 jobs;

Whereas, transportation finance in the Commonwealth is a critical and urgent matter because the current state and federally funded program has been operating on intermittent and short-term extensions that undermine predictability and stability, interfering with the ability of towns, cities and states to plan and manage their infrastructure maintenance and improvement operations;

Whereas, the Massachusetts Transportation Finance Commission found that there is a state transportation funding deficit of approximately $20 billion over the next two decades, including a $1 billion gap in the Chapter 90 program, and funding for Chapter 90 has not kept pace with increases in the cost of materials and labor, as evidenced by an MMA survey of cities and towns that determined that the actual need for the Chapter 90 program is more than $562 million a year; and

Whereas, authorization for the federal highway transportation program will end in less than two years, and the federal highway trust fund and federal gas and fuel taxes are inadequate to meet the promises made in the law, creating uncertainty and undermining the federal partnership that is necessary to ensure adequate investments in roads, bridges, transit and regional transportation systems;

Whereas, cities and towns in Massachusetts must receive increased resources and revenues from the state and federal governments to allow communities to maintain their public roads and bridges in acceptable conditions; and

Whereas, the MMA has been a leading member of a statewide coalition of key stakeholders working to educate the public and state about the transportation funding crisis;

Therefore, in order to build our local and regional economies, enhance economic development, create essential construction jobs, protect and promote safety on roadways, and keep our transportation system moving, it is hereby resolved by the members of the Massachusetts Municipal Association as follows:

• The MMA will continue to take a leadership role in examining the extent of the funding crisis, advocating for multi-faceted solutions, and educating the public about the critical needs of the Commonwealth’s local and state transportation systems, including the promotion of a stable, broad-based revenue structure that is adequate to support and maintain our roads, bridges, highways, bicycle and pedestrian accommodations, and transit systems in a manner that shares resources fairly with the cities and towns of Massachusetts; and

• The Governor must submit and the Legislature must approve a new multi-year state transportation bond authorization that includes at least a five-year Chapter 90 bond authorization, including not less than a total of $300 million in any one year; and

• The Legislature must enact and the Governor must sign a “stand-alone” Chapter 90 bond bill for fiscal 2014 in sufficient time for the customary release of Chapter 90 allocation amounts by April 1 in order to allow cities and towns to move ahead with the vital maintenance and repair projects during the full construction season; and

• Recognizing that transportation investments are vital to our nation’s economic recovery, federal budget cuts should not be targeted at federal highway and transit programs, and Congress and the President should prioritize the formulation and passage of a longer-term surface transportation bill of at least five years that includes competitive grant funding opportunities that are directly accessible to municipalities, to be enacted immediately upon expiration of MAP-21; and

Be it further resolved that a copy of this resolution shall be presented to the Governor, the members of the Massachusetts Legislature, the members of the Massachusetts Congressional Delegation, and the President of the United States on behalf of the cities and towns of the Commonwealth.