DeLeo: MBTA Reform Bill Not In Cards Before Summer Recess

House Speaker Robert DeLeo on Monday punted plans to take up MBTA reform legislation until sometime after the summer recess.

Major reforms at the transit agency were included in the $38.1 billion budget on the governor's desk, and DeLeo on Monday said lawmakers still plan to take up additional changes.

"I would be doubtful that we'd be addressing that issue before we break for August, but having said that I think we still want to supplement what we did in the budget," DeLeo told reporters after meeting with the governor and Senate President Stanley Rosenberg. DeLeo continued, "Although I was very pleased and proud of what we did addressing many of the major issues, I still think that there may be some others we have to discuss."

Budgetary provisions expand the size of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation Board of Directors, establish a fiscal and management control board and remove the MBTA for three years from a vetting process required before state agencies can outsource services.

"From our point of view, we have a ton of work to do," Gov. Charlie Baker told reporters, standing next to Rosenberg and DeLeo and referring to the reforms included in the budget.

The Transportation Committee shipped Baker's standalone transportation reform bill to the House Committee on Ways and Means after stripping out legislation that would have removed restraints on fare increases, along with other language that would have given managers the chance to reject an arbitrated union contract.

The standalone T reform bill (H 3347) would allow the MBTA to use manager-at-risk and design-build construction contracts and it would give more leeway to the state's 15 regional transit authorities in how they use their capital funds.

The MBTA's failure to handle abnormally cold and snowy weather this past winter pushed it to near the top of the list of legislative priorities this year. Before agreement on a final budget bill, lawmakers had said they planned to finish MBTA reform legislation before breaking for the summer.

Legislative priorities postponed are sometimes postponed indefinitely, as sentencing reform advocates are still making the case for additional changes following passage of a 2012 law increasing penalties for repeat violent offenders.

Sen. Marc Pacheco (D-Taunton) last week predicted lawmakers would not see a standalone MBTA reform bill since reforms were included in the budget.

DeLeo on Monday identified sales tax holiday legislation as a matter that will likely emerge before the recess.


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